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By Kim Castelda
March 12, 2017

The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?” is written by Kim Castelda, chief people officer for Bullhorn.

“Focus on your passion and career advancement will follow.”

That’s the best advice I received early in my career. It’s how I turned my passion of advocating for people into a rewarding career in human resources, and why it’s important for employees to find out what truly motivates them.

But one of the biggest misconceptions is that once you’ve identified your passion, you can fuel it through career advancement.

When working at a great company earlier in my career, I found that my desire to climb the professional ladder ran up against taking care of my three children at home.

As I sought to take on more responsibilities, one of my colleagues asked me, “Do you have the bandwidth to do more than you’re currently doing?” At that point, I realized that I couldn’t increase my workload because of my personal responsibilities. I didn’t need any additional tasks to make me feel happy at work.

Whenever I share this advice with young professionals, I tell them to think about these three things:

Test out your career path

I’ve had countless conversations with young employees who say they’re only working in their current field because their parents are too—and they didn’t know what else to study in college. That’s a shame.

One of the biggest career mistakes you can make, especially when starting a new job, is not having any prior internships or experiences in your field of choice. These real-world experiences will help you decide if you want to embark on a career in your intended field.

If you find yourself in a career that you don’t enjoy, it’s crucial to pivot it into something that will make you want to return to the office every day. That might mean taking a step back and trying a new and different role. If it helps you go into a field you might enjoy, it’s worth a shot.

 

Authenticity matters

Many disgruntled workers think that they can mask their unhappiness. They’re wrong. I can walk around an office and immediately identify the employees who are truly passionate about their work and those who are there just for the paycheck.

Pay attention to your non-verbal communication. If your colleagues can tell you’re unhappy, your managers and customers can too. If you’re not self-motivated or excited to dive into new projects or challenges, you’re in the wrong profession.

Don’t try to be perfect

Perfection doesn’t exist, so you must remove any belief that flawlessness will dictate your success. Mistakes will always occur, because we’re human. Instead focus on being yourself, which will allow you to shine and organically ignite your passions. If you’re enthusiastic about your career, you’ll succeed and everything else will fall into place.

For me, success is doing a great job in your role and enjoying your accomplishments. We spend so much time at work that it’s important that we’re passionate about our careers. If we’re not excited about them, it’s damaging to our teams, our businesses, and our clients.

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