The Best Career Advice of 2016

December 31, 2016, 3:00 PM UTC
Overhead view of two business persons in the lobby
A high-angle view of a businessman and a businesswoman sitting in the office building lobby and using a tablet computer
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Every day at Fortune, influential leaders, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 500 executives offer valuable insight from their experiences navigating the business world. We’ve compiled some of our favorite pieces of career advice published in 2016:

Sarah Kauss, founder and CEO of S’well:

Delegation can sometimes come off as negative—like you’re just pushing off work on someone else—but it doesn’t have to be perceived that way. Don’t just say “no” to a request. You should, in fact, pass it along when you’re too busy.

And that’s not a bad thing. Think of the opportunity you are giving others. A conference organizer may not always want your senior vice president when the founder or CEO can’t make the event. But if you show that you trust someone else with an opportunity — such as establishing your company’s brand reputation — you may be surprised by the positive reactions you’ll receive.

Dennis Yang, CEO of Udemy:

Hiring begins with the job description itself, which needs to reflect the position’s real requirements and responsibilities. Too many companies go forth in search of a left-handed, purple unicorn: that elusive individual who possesses mastery in a broad range of skills and can single-handedly do the job of many people.

Unfortunately, unicorns don’t exist. Companies that think they’ve hired one stand to be disappointed, and candidates who represent themselves as such are either on the fast track to burnout or are overselling themselves. Your job listings need to be realistic in order to attract real candidates and give your interviewers tangible evaluation criteria.

Amber Theorharis, host for the NFL Network:

When [a] job opens, take it—even if the salary is low. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and there’s nothing wrong with starting at the bottom. That’s where you make mistakes that will be the least devastating to your professional reputation—and you can still learn from them. The money and the position will come later, but you have to get in the game. Take a side job to pay the bills if your career can’t. I waited tables after work and on weekends for almost two years while working on-air at a small TV station in Salisbury, Md. My dream was bigger than my pride.


Jeremy Roche, president and CEO of FinancialForce:

I can’t express enough how important it is to throw your ego out the door. When you jump into a new career or position, there is a 100% chance you will make mistakes. No matter how much experience you have and how high up the ranks you were, when you start a new job, you will have to prove yourself all over again.

And while that might sound daunting, you have to stay positive. Embrace the unknown and be willing to go back to the basics of learning new skills. This experience can build empathy, truly enhancing your leadership skills in the long run.

Kim Metcalf-Kupres, vice president and chief marketing officer of Johnson Controls:

Fight for change when it matters and learn to let lesser issues roll off. While gender parity continues to improve in traditionally male-dominated fields, the reality is that we all have preconceived perceptions of how things should be, and culture change does not happen overnight. In these moments, especially if they involve unconscious bias, it is essential to educate others and provide your perspective in a kind and respectful manner. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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