How to Avoid Bad Career Advice

It seems like everyone has an opinion these days, especially when it comes to career advice. Between the internet, mentors, and even well-meaning friends and relatives, there’s a lot of career advice floating around out there. How do you know what advice you can trust? Here are six tips to avoid bad career advice.

Consider the Source

Not all career advice is created equal. When reading a book, article, or blog post, look at the author and the credibility of the outlet. Is it somewhere you have heard of and trust? Career advice from Forbes should be considered differently than a blog post on someone’s personal site, especially if there are typos and mistakes. The same principle applies to people giving you advice.

A recommendation from your parents using outdated examples is different from up-to-date advice from a career counselor. Consider whether the source knows your industry, has current information, and knows what it is like to build a career in 2017. If you’re pursuing a career in healthcare, for example, you’ll want to talk to someone who can give specific advice on things like medical transcription courses.

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Avoid Yes-men

Everyone naturally wants to be surrounded by people who build them up and encourage them, but that shouldn’t always be the case when you’re trying to build a career. Someone who supports even your worst ideas and tells you they will be great for your career isn’t giving good advice. Look for sources that provide both support and fight your career plans, as sometimes tough love can lead to the best advice. It could be just the wake-up call you need.

Make Sure They’re Invested in you

It’s easy for someone claiming to be a career expert to throw out generic advice, especially if it helps them and their bank account. The best advice comes from people and sources who are knowledgeable and also invested in your career—someone like a mentor who wants to see you succeed individually can give advice that is personalized for your situation and that does more than just help them feel good about helping someone else find the path. Too many people talk just to hear themselves talk, especially on the internet and social media—make sure the advice comes from someone who cares about your career.

Use Multiple Sources

Even the best mentor can lead to bad career advice if that is the only source you use. You wouldn’t write a research paper with one source, just like you would likely go to a doctor for a second opinion on major medical issues. Do your research and seek out a variety of trusted sources. Build your own board of advisors with industry experts and trusted mentors you can go to with questions. Having a broader variety of perspectives and expertise helps you avoid following one person’s footsteps blindly and ensures you can weigh your options before making a final choice.

Look for Harder Options

Building a career won’t happen overnight. If someone’s advice or career plan for you sounds too easy, it probably is. It takes hard work and some risk to stand out and build a strong career. Advice that is so simple anyone could do it won’t help set you apart in the job-hunting process. Not everything needs to be difficult, but be wary of advice that sounds too good or easy to be true.

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Trust your Gut

At the end of the day, you are ultimately the one who is responsible for your career. Even if the advice comes from someone you trust and could be a good option for your situation, don’t do something you don’t feel good about. Likewise, if a piece of advice doesn’t sit well with you, you don’t have to follow it. Take time to think through big decisions and make your own choice. There are countless stories of successful people who went against what everyone else said and found great results. You’re in charge of your career path, so follow the steps which seem best to you after all the advice has been given.



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Linda Gimmeson

Linda Gimmeson is a Career Coach that is passionate about helping others identify their strengths and pursue their dreams. Follow her @LindaGimmeson on Twitter for more career advice.

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