10 Career Lessons Taken From the Top Headlines of 2013

What can you learn from last year's news to improve your career prospects?

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Hannah Morgan
Hannah Morgan
Celebrities, politicians and even extreme weather made the news last year. What can you learn by reflecting on news and headlines to improve your career prospects this year? Personal reputation, honesty, improved communication and legacies are just some of the reoccurring themes you may find helpful in focusing your career in 2014.

Get the royal treatment. We can't all be as fortunate as His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. He was born into royalty. That doesn't mean that we can't try and recreate a queenly marketing campaign, or at least toot our royal horn a little. Don't be intimidated or afraid to share your successes with managers. Document your achievements by including them in your LinkedIn profile when they occur, not just when you need a job.

Liars never win in the long run. Lance Armstrong, winner of seven Tour de France titles had long disputed the rumor he was taking enhancement drugs. Well, sooner or later, the truth comes out, and liars get caught. You may land a new job or a promotion based on the lies on your résumé or the ones you told during the interview. That doesn't mean that's the end of the background checking. People have been dismissed and fired from jobs based on false information on their résumés, so don't play that game.

Be careful what you put out there. Miley Cyrus took extreme creative risks this year. While this is admirable, consider the repercussions to your reputation. Some may say there's no such thing as bad publicity. However, you don't have a team of public relations people to help repair the damaged publicity. Remember whatever you post on social media outlets is almost as public as Cyrus's music videos. Don't let it wreck your reputation.

Boston strong. The horrific events that occurred during the Boston Marathon remind us of the power of community. Boston rallied together to support each other and came out strong, maybe even stronger than before. When faced with misfortune or a catastrophe, will you unite your supporters or attempt to brave it alone? And one other valuable lesson: Are you living every day to its fullest?

Women, lean in. In her book, "Lean In," Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, suggests that more women should strive for professional success. Her book started a movement and sheds light on the issues facing women in corporate America. If you are a working woman or just someone who wants to start a movement, learn from how Sandberg generated conversation and take action. 

You can't believe everything. Manti Te'o, a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers and former football player for Notre Dame, was either involved in a fake girlfriend saga or duped by schemers. We may never know the real truth behind this story, but what it proves is that we must be vigilant in evaluating the sources of information we consume and share. There is no shortage of scams out there targeting unsuspecting job seekers. Question and research anything that seem too good to be true.

Using a name improves communication. Tornadoes and super storms impacted communities around the country. It wasn't until 2013 that winter storms were identified by name; an honor previously only bestowed upon hurricanes. Why are we giving storms names? "It's simply easier to communicate about a complex storm if it has a name, which our naming program last year demonstrated," says Bryan Norcross, senior hurricane specialist at The Weather Channel. "Good communications benefits everyone." Use your name consistently across social media channels and your résumé to ensure you don't confuse people. Also embrace well-recognized key words in your career documentation to improve your communication.

A good idea doesn't work when it's poorly implemented. Some may not believe the Affordable Care Act was ever a good idea, but President Obama wasn't backing down. What damaged the ACA most was the software malfunction. Test and retest is one moral of this story. The other is to make sure your carefully crafted plan is well-executed. Merely having a great résumé won't guarantee a great job unless you strategically implement a plan to get it into the hands of people who can potentially hire you. Ask people what they think of your plan and listen to the feedback. When you gain buy-in and then implement the solution, the odds for success are greater and everyone comes out a winner. Remember, success occurs when a good idea is implemented well.

What's your backup plan? As Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor, found out, doing the right thing can label you a hero, a whistleblower or a traitor. Doing what you believe is the right thing may not always get you fired, but you should always have a backup plan and be ready to face the consequences. Better yet, work your backup plan all the time, just in case the unforeseen occurs. We also learned from Snowden that our own U.S. government is monitoring more of our Internet usage than we thought.

Leave a legacy. We celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela in 2013 and the legacy he leaves behind. Dignitaries from around the world paid honor to his life. Why were so many people impacted by Mandela's death? Could it be because he inspired the world to fight not just for racial equality, but for inclusiveness? His message and his life's mission inspired something in all of us. This is his legacy, but what will yours be?

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.