career

Roxy Jacenko: "The 7 pieces of advice I have for every woman who wants a stellar career."

I’m often asked for career advice from women at all stages and ages. Whether it’s a high school student who’s looking to carve out a career in PR or someone who’s had years of experience and they want to make a change, I’m regularly approached for my top tips and secrets.

First thing’s first – there are no shortcuts or secrets to success! Believe me, I’ve seen plenty of aspiring ‘Roxy’s’ who think they can walk in the door on day one and be handed the seemingly more glamorous, senior publicist tasks!

Regardless of whether you want to be a publicist, pharmacist or perhaps own your own business one day, there are universal traits and behaviours of those who are successful. While you may need a fancy degree or qualification as the bare minimum requirement, it’s your attitude and willingness to work hard that are going to get you ahead. Education is a given these days and it’s ongoing, whether formally or informally.

Roxy Jacenko opens up about her nervous breakdown on Mamamia’s No Filter podcast. Post continues after video. 

Video by MMC

So best not assume that because you’re qualified for a role, it makes you the best candidate or you simply deserve it. If you truly want to get ahead and make a stellar career for yourself, here are my top seven pieces of advice.

1. Get work experience and be prepared to start at the bottom.

My very first job was as the drive-thru chick at McDonald’s. Believe it or not, I learnt things in that job that I still apply even to this day in my own businesses, such as the immense value of stringent systems and processes.

There is no shame in starting at the bottom and working your way up. It’s actually essential! This sets the foundation for your career and it may be something you need to do several times if you want to make a career change.

We all start somewhere. What’s important is that you learn to take something away from every job and think about the bigger picture. Don’t skip the basics as these are what will set you up to have a solid understanding of how your particular field or industry works.

Above all, don’t feel entitled to a role without having any relevant experience. The more on-the-job experience you can get, the more prepared you’ll be to excel at the more complex roles and the more likely you’ll be able to handle additional responsibilities and pressure as you work your way up.

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2. Impress everyone and treat everyone with equal respect.

I don’t care whether you’re the CEO or the office junior, you should treat everyone with equal respect and kindness. Your attitude and the way you treat others, especially those who you think are more junior than you, says a lot about your character.

Throughout your career, you’re going to meet and work with a lot of different people. It might be the office cleaner who comes in just as you’re clocking off for the day, a supplier or work experience student. Don’t ever think you’re better than anyone else and that someone is more or less valuable because of a job title.

As I often say, if you’re rude or disrespectful to someone on your way up the career ladder, I guarantee you’ll meet them on your way back down!

You just never know who is watching or who you’ll meet again. Always do your job to the absolute best of your ability, regardless of who it is that has asked you. Equally, treat everyone with dignity, respect and humility. There is nothing worse than someone who is sweet as pie to the boss but who treats the office newbie like dirt. Just don’t go there, you’re better than that.

3. Think carefully about your application and image.

Over the years, I’ve seen some truly abysmal job applications! If you really want to secure the job of your dreams, you’re not only going to have to work for it but you’re going to need to take the time and care to present a standout application.

Never, ever send a stock-standard resume and application to a tonne of employers and hope for the best. No one wants to hire a person who is clearly just trying their luck at every job that sounds vaguely suitable. It’s not only blindingly obvious, it’s downright lazy!

Take the time to carefully research the job and company you’re applying to before you even start your application. Write a concise, clear cover letter specifically for the job you’re applying to and address all of the key requirements. Tell them why you want to work for them and what makes you so well-suited to that role.

Also, think carefully about your social media presence. It’s so obvious, but be assured that a future employer will likely do a quick Google search on your name and check out your social media profiles. Are they going to like what they see and view you as a potential representative for their company? Does your LinkedIn profile align with your application? Have you shown attention to detail every step of the way?

Everyone has the chance to create their own brand these days – you are your brand! Be careful about what you share and think twice about the future ramifications of every picture, comment and caption you post.

4. Make sacrifices.

You’ll never get ahead in your career without making sacrifices along the way. No one is going to hand you your dream job on a platter. You’re going to have to work for it, consistently over many, many years. You might have to miss the girl’s weekend trip away to stay and help out on a project, skip the after-work drinks to complete a report that needs to be submitted or forgo your holidays at a busy time of year to work overtime. It might also mean sacrificing your spare time to study or work a second job to get more experience.

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The employee that skips out the door at 5pm every day, regardless of what work still needs to be done, is unlikely to be the next in line for that promotion! But the one who always raises their hand to help out, stay back and give more than is asked of them – well, it’s pretty obvious who’s going to be the more likely contender isn’t it?

Over time, consistently making the choice to prioritise your long-term career vision will pay off. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever take a holiday or enjoy your downtime after work, but it does mean that more often than not, you need to consciously choose what’s best for your career.

5. Go after opportunities that scare and excite you.

If you want a stellar career, you’re going to have to jump before you’re ready.

If you stay in your comfort zone and only take on or apply for jobs that you feel 100 per cent comfortable doing, then you’re never going to progress.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve said yes to something that I didn’t really know how to do. I just figured it out along the way! I’d certainly never run a business before. Or worked in PR for more than a few months before opening Sweaty Betty PR. Even with five businesses, a host of ambassadorial roles, books, seminars and an online course to my name, I never stop looking for opportunities to learn and push myself.

Show up, be ready to learn and actively chase those opportunities you know will grow your personal brand and career.

Now, I’m not recommending that you blindly go out and start a business or apply for a job that you have absolutely zero experience in. But if there is an opportunity that you know will stretch you, challenge you and that you believe you have a good foundation for (coming back to the work experience!), but that also scares you a little bit – you need to go for it.

Learning comes from doing. Not from thinking about it or wishing for it. You need to put yourself out there to have a go, be challenged, make mistakes, learn and grow.

Roxy discusses how she went from a receptionist at a fashion label to one of Australia’s most well-known entrepreneurs, on this episode of Lady Startup. Post continues after podcast.

6. Go the extra mile.

Never simply do a ‘good enough’ job. You should always aim to over-deliver and exceed expectations at every opportunity.

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I truly believe that how you do anything, is how you do everything. Read that again.

If you slap together a haphazard email to a potential client full of mistakes or turn up to work looking like you just rolled out of bed, what hope has your employer got of feeling like they can trust you with more senior tasks?

If you can’t do the menial tasks with attention to detail, then you’re not giving your team or employer any confidence in your ability to perform at a higher level. Always look for ways to be doing your job better – whether that’s with extra attention to detail, working out how to do a task more efficiently or asking your boss if there is anything else that they need help with. As we say in our team, go above and beyond.

If you can do more without being asked, produce a higher quality of work than is expected, make improvements to the efficiency of your team and generally be an absolute pleasure to work with, then I guarantee that your efforts and dedication to your job won’t go unnoticed.

Remember, being employed is a privilege, not a right. If you want to excel in your career and land your dream job, you need to show up and earn that right every day, in everything that you do.

7. Be a student for life.

No matter what job I’ve had or who I’m working with, I’ve always used it as an opportunity to soak up information like a sponge. If you’re not constantly learning new things, you may as well be going backwards.

For you, that may mean constantly updating your professional skills with a further degree, conferences or online courses. It may be personal or professional development seminars, attending industry events, speaking with and networking with others who are a few steps ahead of you in their career. It could even be as simple as listening to a business podcast or reading a few pages of a business book every morning.

Don’t ever become complacent and assume that you know enough or that you can afford to rest. Because if you do, I promise you there will be ten other people going after your dream job who will have more knowledge, more insights and more drive than you.

Every job is an opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge. Regardless of how junior or menial the tasks may seem to you, I promise you there is something you can take away and apply to future roles. Never waste time in a job thinking that you’re too good for it. Instead, use it as a learning opportunity – ask questions, be curious and commit to giving it your all because you only ever get out what you put in.

Feature Image: Instagram @roxyjacenko

Doors are now open to Roxy’s Brand Bootcamp, the ultimate online course to help you build a powerful brand. To find out more and sign up, click here. But hurry, doors close on Sunday 8th March.

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