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The career advice to take - and the advice to ignore

SEO 2021 | September 30, 2014

career advice

Good advice can advance you to the next step, and bad advice can sabotage your professional life.

Career advice has serious implications if you follow it – either for the better or for the worse. This means that good advice can advance you to the next step, and bad advice can sabotage your professional life.

The advice to follow

Good advice either brings clarity to a situation or reveals all the factors involved in a decision. For your career, this often means looking at the big picture or accepting the conditions of your current circumstances.

Sarah Skirpan, media strategist for Dick Jones Communications says that she’s received two helpful pieces of advice that have stuck with her throughout her career:

  • “On my first day of college, in my first class, my professor told the class, ‘In four years, when you leave this institution, there will be millions of other job seekers with the same degrees vying for the same jobs. Spend your four years here doing something that will make you stand out.’ Although he was speaking to our years in college, the same holds true for every job I've had since graduation. With that perspective, I've spent the past 12 years developing myself professionally so I can stand out from my peers.
  • “I had a co-worker who got along really well with her boss and considered her a friend. And when my co-worker was offered another position at a new company – with more money – she was hesitant to accept it, because she didn't want to disappoint her current boss or leave her in a scramble to replace her. Our friend reminded her that her current boss, although very nice, would let her go without a second thought if it were good for business. She said, ‘Business is business. You can't worry about hurting your boss's feelings, because if layoffs come around, she wouldn't worry about your feelings or circumstances when she shows you the door.’”

Taylor Schulte, certified financial planner and founder/wealth adviser of Define Financial,shares some of the best tips she’s received when it comes to finding the right job and furthering your education:

  • “Don't look for the perfect job. Accept an offer that fits within your general guidelines, give it 120 percent and network within your new company and your new list of contacts. You might be surprised who you will meet that will lead you to your next role and potentially your dream job.
  • “[Don’t go] back to school just because you are having a difficult time finding a job and don't know what else to do. Furthering your education is great but it's also very expensive and time consuming. Unless you have a very targeted plan for continuing your education, I think there are better uses of your time and money than getting another degree.”

The tips to turn away

Not everybody’s meant to give advice, but people still do. However, when it comes to your career, bad advice can have a real impact on your life. Nearly six in 10 executives surveyed by The Creative Group say they have received bad career advice from co-workers. Another 54 percent have been steered in the wrong direction by their bosses.

Survey respondents were asked to describe the worst career advice they’ve ever received. For many, this was the recommendation to play it safe. Answers included:

  • "I was advised to keep quiet when there were problems."
  • "They told me to stick with what I know, but all growth is the result of developing and learning, especially in this economy."
  • "I was told to look for safe opportunities rather than striving for challenges."
  • "They told me I was as high as I was going to go in this organization and should stay put."

Others were encouraged to make overly risky moves:

  • "I had someone tell me to walk into the CEO's office and say, 'We need to talk about my salary today.'"
  • "Someone told me to jump into a start-up company, and six months later the firm went out of business."

These next professionals were presented with guidance that benefitted the advice giver, rather than them:

  • "My former boss discouraged me from going to work for a competitor, saying that I wouldn't last, but I did. I later found out that he had made a wager that I wouldn't join that firm, and that was why he discouraged me to work there."
  • "A co-worker wanted me to take her job so she could take a new position. It wasn't a good idea. I wasn't ready to fill that job."

Learning how to decipher the good advice and ignore the bad is itself a huge accomplishment for your career. To do so, consider the person giving you the advice and their own interests, as well as how often their advice is sound. Then carefully review the context the advice was given in and how it directly or indirectly applies to your situation. Finally, it’s up to you to decide if that advice is right for you to follow.