Sometimes the truth hurts -- but that doesn't make me shy about telling it. As I learned when I had to deal with 3,751 PR pitches, holding back doesn't do anyone any good. So, with that in mind, here are 25 harsh truths I've learned from my work as an employee and as a business owner that'll help you achieve your career goals.
1. It's not about you.
Let's start with the easiest one: it's not about you. If you want to succeed, you need to help others succeed. When you're helpful, others will help you.
2. Be clear about your goals.
People who don't set goals don't succeed. People who don't set clear goals don't succeed. Be SMART about it.
3. A job search can easily take three to six months.
You don't get hired overnight, so don't expect a quick turnaround. There are plenty of different factors that influence how long it takes to get hired, and companies care a great deal about finding the right fit.
4. Just because your friend got the job doesn't mean you will.
Careers are unique. What works for someone else may not work for you. You aren't someone else, even if you have a similar degree and are that person's best friend.
5. Your attitude is as important as your skills.
Today's employers are becoming increasingly aware that skills are much more teachable than attitude. Don't assume that skills alone are enough. Work on your people skills as well.
6. Regardless of what you think you "deserve," you'll start at the bottom.
Yes, we know you just graduated college. Welcome. Now, please get me a coffee…
7. You won't make a lot of money immediately.
According to CNN Money, the graduating class of 2014 is earning about $16.99 per hour, which is 8 percent lower than that of 2007. You'll be living frugally when you start out, but if you're invested in your career growth, you'll be able to grow your earnings quickly.
8. You'll dislike parts of your job. ANY job.
There is no fairy-tale company that has it all and makes you perfectly happy. Even if you run your own business, there will be things you dislike. People even complain about working for Google, and they get perks like free meals and massages on site.
9. If you're unsatisfied with multiple jobs, you might be the problem.
Harsh but true. You take yourself with you to every new position, so if several haven't felt right, it's time for some introspection. Do you know what you want? Do you need to deal with some issues?
10. Changing industries is a lot like starting over.
You'll end up starting back at the bottom and you'll have to build up a new base of accomplishments. Consider career moves like this carefully.
11. Think about what's in it for others.
Always present your ideas based on what's good for the other people involved. Your ideas will be better received, and so will you.
12. Keep flattery genuine and concise.
No one likes a suck-up, so don't be one. However, compliments will get you places. Keep your positive comments genuine and on-point, especially in writing.
13. Build relationships (that aren't about you).
Genuine relationships are the key to achieving your career goals. Focus on the other person -- be interested, rather than trying to be interesting.
14. You have to pursue your promotions -- they don't magically come to you.
Your boss isn't the magical promotion fairy, waiting to grant your wish. You have to hustle and get yourself noticed if you want to be promoted.
15. Do more than you're paid to do.
Someone who does only what they're paid for is telling management they're content where they are and don't want to move up. Unless that's true for you, continually stretch and seek more responsibility. It'll help you achieve your career goals in the long run.
16. A great career doesn't fall in your lap.
A fulfilling career over time is something that you have to work at, and work at consistently. If you stop, your advancement and career will stop too. Enjoy the journey.
17. Slackers aren't your problem.
I know how frustrating it can be when someone in the office gets away with things. Newsflash: every office has that person, and they aren't your problem.
18. It's not a straight line upward.
In your career, you'll suffer setbacks. You'll get laid off. Maybe even fired. The key is learning from those experiences and bouncing back stronger.
19. Your network is REALLY important.
No one has a successful career without support. Build a network of people you admire and have enjoyed working with. Reach out to them as mentors. Be open to coaching and suggestions. They may even help you find your next job.
20. Unquantified accomplishments don't matter.
When you're looking to catch a hiring manager's eye -- whether it's your first job or you're gunning for your next promotion -- you need some hard numbers. There are several ways to quantify your achievements. Use them.
21. In communication, brevity with clarity is king.
No one likes to get a 15-minute answer to a five-second question. If it's not necessary, don't include it. This is especially true in email and other written correspondence.
22. No one is irreplaceable.
It's important to remember that no one is too precious to get replaced. Don't get complacent in your career. Keep working like your job depends on it, because it does.
23. One major mistake may not get you fired. Two, on the other hand...
People are human, and mistakes are made. But don't count on being able to play that card twice. Big mistakes can result in the derailment of your career.
24. You have to do the work.
For some reason, it's become very fashionable to talk about how much money you make and how little you work to make it. That will not lead to a successful career. Trust me.
25. Learn to sell yourself.
If you don't make a big deal of your accomplishments, no one else will either. Don't be annoying about it, but do learn to sell yourself and your achievements so you can continue to move up.
Achieving your career goals isn't easy, but the sooner you understand these harsh truths, the more success you'll achieve.
What's your favorite harsh career truth? Share your own experiences with hard lessons learned in the comments below: