3 Career Lessons from Taylor Swift

Published: Jun 06, 2024

 Career Readiness       
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Although Taylor Swift has dominated headlines in recent years, she hasn’t always been a global superstar. In fact, Swift has encountered (and overcome) many challenges to get to where she is today—challenges that, in many ways, mirror obstacles that many career seekers experience.

Here, we dive into how all the twists and turns in Swift’s career have led to her current era, along with what any career seeker, at any level and in any industry, can learn from Swift’s wildly successful career.

It’s Okay to Change Direction

Trying to break into a new genre of music is not that different from breaking into a new industry. Up until 2014, Swift was known as a country artist. She produced country music, owned property in Nashville, and had a CMA award under her belt. But in 2014, Swift switched into popular music with her album 1989

Similarly, you may be sitting with years of experience in a career field that no longer interests you, with eyes on something new. Switching jobs can be a good decision for many reasons, and even though you may not have industry expertise in your field of interest, transferable skills will help you immensely. 

In Swift’s case, her musical expertise was (and still is) a transferable skill that allowed her to switch into a new genre of music. A transferable skill you may possess could be expertise in Excel, which is applicable to multiple industries. You might also have management experience, and if you’re looking to switch industries, that could help you immensely with securing a management role in a different industry. Transferable skills can be a mix of soft skills and hard skills, and both types should fill the blank space on your resume. 

According to Swift at the time of her switch to pop, she followed her “gut instinct” to make the change. And according to Billboard, “Her departure from country would go down as one of the single greatest business moves in the modern music industry.” Although your switch from one industry to another may not be historic, it could result in success beyond your wildest dreams.

Closed Doors Are New Opportunities 

Being told “no” in your career is a universal experience that even Taylor Swift can relate to. Swift recorded her first six albums with Big Machine Records, and when the masters of her music were sold to Scooter Braun, she publicly expressed her frustration. Though Swift was unable to own her own music, she didn’t stand at the closed door and retreat. Instead, she took some advice from Kelly Clarkson and took her frustration back into the studio to create “Taylor’s Version.”

Similarly, you will definitely be told “no” more than once during your career. You might get turned down for a role or a promotion, or told that a flexible schedule isn’t an option. Whatever the case, each “no” you hear isn’t the end of the world but an opportunity to figure it out in a different way.

For example, if you’re continuously being turned away from job opportunities, get creative with your approach. Try reformatting your resume to get noticed, or acquiring a new certification, or even pursuing a new degree. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, consider starting your own business instead of working for someone else. 

As of today, Swift has released four re-recorded versions of her albums, signified by “(Taylor’s Version)” in the title. This is a perfect example of perseverance in the face of rejection or adversity. If Swift would have admitted defeat, her re-recorded albums wouldn’t be breaking records on the streaming charts. Likewise, if you take every “no” as a sign to quit, you could be walking in the opposite direction of where you’re meant to be. 

You Never Know Who Is Doing “It With a Broken Heart”

Taylor Swift has also shown, during her multi-year international Era’s Tour, what can be accomplished while experiencing very real struggles. One of her new songs, “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” was presumably written during the Era’s Tour. In the song, Swift explains that fans assume she’s “having the time of her life” on tour, but in reality she was being told “you gotta fake it ‘til you make it” and telling herself “you know you're good when you can even do it with a broken heart.” Once the song was released, fans realized what Swift had been pushing through in order to put on a great show for her audience.

Similarly, it’s likely that your coworkers are experiencing personal struggles of their own while continuing to show up to work every day. Nobody is obligated to disclose any stressors they’re experiencing outside of work, so it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t know the full picture of someone’s life. Treating colleagues with kindness and respect, even when they make mistakes, can show that you care about them as a people, not just coworkers. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that if colleagues are experiencing mental health struggles that impact daily work, there are resources available to help them feel bejeweled again, including wellness benefits and leave options. There are also various ways you can indirectly support a colleague's mental health, including inviting them to grab lunch with you, regularly checking in, and making sure their ideas are heard. A little bit can go a long way when it comes to showing your colleagues that you care—and don’t want them to have a cruel summer.