5 Pieces of the Worst Career Advice, and What to Do Instead


When you’re changing careers, or simply changing jobs due to boredom or the desire to move up, where do you turn to for advice? Some people look to family members and friends, while others turn to successful colleagues and network contacts. How has that worked out for you? If you think about it, you’ve probably gotten really bad career advice from a friend, family member, or colleague. While it’s easy to ignore the obviously bad ideas, some of that advice is recirculated year after year, making it seem like a standard job seeking practice.

While the tried and true advice may sound great at the time, it is often either outdated, lacking in critical details, or based on myth. If you’re in need of quality career advice, I suggest you seek out the assistance of a professional career coach. If you’re looking for a job because you’ve been laid off and you’re lucky enough to be offered career transition services that include a certified career coach, you’re probably in pretty good hands. If you’re on your own, a certified career coach with current credentials can help you land a job quicker and hopefully at a higher salary.

If you’re not sure about the advice you’ve been offered, we’ve gathered five of the most common and worst career tips we’ve heard and offered some advice about what you can do, instead.

Worst career advice #1: Do good work and you’ll be noticed by your boss

This advice is a little off point, but not completely wrong. You certainly want to do your best at your job, and the benefits that follow recognition for your efforts is always rewarding. However, if you’re doing good work to impress your superiors for a raise or promotion, understand that this method alone rarely works. The problem is that good work doesn’t mean recognition or rewards. You’ll be a reliable employee, certainly, but if you want to surpass expectations, you’ll need to have ideas.

Think about what you do in your current job. Is there a way to improve or enhance any part of it? Is there somewhere you can take the lead to be the agent of change?

Here are a few things to get you thinking like a leader:

  1. Improve workflow processes. If possible, come up with an idea or two to improve processes that save the company time or money. Companies love to save time, and saving money even more, which is a great way to get on your boss’s radar.

  2. Recommend better software. Suggest new company software that you know will save more time, smooth out processes, or improve productivity.

  3. Boost employee morale. This is especially key if you’re working in HR. Research what the top workplaces in your area and in the nation are doing. Suggest a similar program in your organization.

  4. Enhance the customer service experience. Can you turn a customer’s experience with the company into something memorable? Suggest implementing a program that rewards customer’s and helps keep your organization top of mind.

These are just a few ideas to draw attention to yourself and your work that will make it easier to justify why you deserve that raise or promotion. Remember to always claim recognition for your efforts, but don’t hog all the glory for projects that involve other team members. Give credit where credit is due, but be sure your boss knows the part you played to make the project a success.

Worst career advice #2: Follow your passion

The problem with this bit of advice is that following your passion doesn’t always lead to income or even a lucrative career. Blindly following your passion can result in a job history that seems disjointed and inconsistent. Those who simply follow their passions, without considering all the implications associated with extreme career changes, often need to return to their original career path in order to fulfill financial obligations. What does following your passion mean to you? For some it represents an extreme shift in focus, including:

  1. Starting a business based on a hobby

  2. Searching for a job in an industry that sounds interesting, without any real evidence or experience

  3. Pursuing an opportunity to try an uncommon and seemingly interesting job (e.g.: Bounty Hunter, Ethical Hacker, Waterslide Tester)

  4. Leaving a career due to boredom or dissatisfaction with a current position

If you are thinking of following your passion, start by taking inventory of your needs and long-term goals. Instead of following your passion blindly, take the time to find the career that matches not only your interests, but your financial and personal goals, as well.

Here are a few ideas to help you get the job satisfaction you’re looking for without creating a personal or professional crisis in the process:

  1. Consider starting a side hustle. A side hustle allows you to test your idea while you’re still employed. After you’ve spent some time working in your new career, you’ll have a better idea whether or not it will bring you the joy you imagined and you’ll have a better idea whether or not taking on your side hustle full time will fulfill your financial requirements.

  2. Research unique and uncommon jobs. Before you leave your job to become a bounty hunter, find out what skills you’ll need to be successful. Do some research to check if your past experiences and abilities are a match for the job.

  3. Update your skills. If you’re preparing to switch careers, examine your work history to discover gaps in skills and knowledge. Once you’ve identified the gaps, take courses to fill in your knowledge in unfamiliar areas before attempting to make the move to a new career.

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