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What career lessons are you most thankful for?

Alina Dizik, Special to CareerBuilder

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Even if a certain job or interview doesn't go your way, there's no reason to be disappointed. In hindsight, everything can be a lesson, right? As Thanksgiving approaches, we asked career coaches, authors and entrepreneurs for the career lessons they are most thankful for. The results, based on both positive and negative experiences, may surprise you.

Here's what they learned:

"In this tough economic environment, it's natural to be competitive, and it's hard to be happy for someone when they get a prize -- a promotion, a raise, a bonus -- and you don't. When I have that feeling, I rely on the 'pork chop theory.' The pork chop theory is based on the premise that if you put one pork chop in the pan and turn the heat on high, the pork chop will burn. If you put two pork chops in the pan, however, and turn the heat on high, they will feed off the fat of one another. It's the ultimate in giving, sharing and developing mutually beneficial partnerships and relationships. It's not about competition; it's about sharing the fat, sharing the love."
-- Virginia Willis, author of "Basic to Brilliant, Y'All: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company"

"The career lesson I am most thankful for was the realization that you must 'fake it till you make it.' I am not talking about misrepresenting your credentials or lying about your experience level. What I mean is that I learned that you must act like the person you want to become. You must treat a chosen goal as though it is a foregone conclusion. I learned that prospective clients will want to hire me only when they feel the confidence that I have in myself; only when I behave and speak with the authority and poise that a successful person exudes. I was not always the coach I am today, but I learned early that I had to act forward in order to get there."
-- Martha Newman, career coach and founder of Gain Your Goals Inc.

"I worried so much in college and the years after that I made the wrong decision with my major and the path I'd chosen. Fortunately, I realized that very little is set in stone, and while not easy, it is possible to transition into another job or career. Though I couldn't have known it at the time, all the twists and turns I took along the way have helped me in my career today. I'm thankful that we have career options."
-- Charlotte Weeks, certified résumé writer

"I worked for several years at an organization where I consistently received high performance reviews and other accolades from the managers that I worked with who appreciated my low-key but effective work style. But when it came time for a promotional opportunity, it was given to another colleague. What's worse is that I didn't even know that there was such an opportunity available within the department. I learned a few valuable lessons from that experience: The first is that other people's perceptions of you matter and it can sometimes play a role in who has access to promotional opportunities and who doesn't. The second lesson was that it was important for me to take charge of my career and my own destiny and not assume that others will create opportunities for me."
-- Dianne Shaddock Austin, principal at Easy Small Business HR

"For a long time, I really thought that people said what they meant. In conversation with colleagues, I had no concept of what it meant to be two-faced. I learned the lesson the hard way when I trusted one of my managers who used to say all the right things, just to get me to work hard, to the point of putting my life and studies on hold in order to dedicate at least 16 hours a day at the office. Back then it never crossed my mind that a person, especially a senior manager, could be so manipulative. Then one day my boss was cornered, and he was forced to take a position and to provide an opinion, in my presence. I was shocked when I heard him say things that were completely the opposite of what he had promised me. That changed how I interacted with people. It taught me a valuable lesson: Do not depend on other people's thoughts and opinions -- work hard to build yourself, and don't worry about what others might say. I believe that a healthy dose of suspicion is mandatory in the corporate jungle."
-- Jonar Nader, author of "How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People"

"I had a personal blog, which I was sure no one read nor knew about. Following a very stressful work situation, I wrote a blog post that complained about my boss. I didn't mention him by name and I assumed that nearly no one knew about the blog. One day he innocently Googled the name of a photography business that one of my co-workers owned and found the blog post and the complaint. I was very nearly fired, and more than stunned that he had found my 'private' blog. My career lessons from this experience? Take issues up with your supervisor directly. Nothing you post online is private. Always use care in what you post via social media, on other people's websites, online forums, etc."
-- Jenny Foss, career coach and founder of Ladder Recruiting Group

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter.

Last Updated: 01/11/2011 - 3:22 PM

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