Over the years, you are bound to hear bad career advice from your friends, families, professors, your yoga instructor, and so on; it is everywhere! The reason why it is everywhere is that people still believe it, some of it is very convincing but as with anything else, just doesn’t apply to everyone. The best thing that you can do for your career and the future of it is to recognize when you’re being given bad advice and what to do instead. In this list, you’ll read ten bad pieces of career advice and learn just why they won’t work for you.
Take this job for now.
The bad part about this advice is that this generally winds you up in a position that you don’t want to be in. Then, you will get into a cycle of “taking this job for now” and end up leaving when things stop working out, then the next one comes along that you “take just for now.” You do not want to be viewed as someone who bounces from job to job, and the other end of the spectrum pans out just as negatively, you do not want to get stuck doing something you don’t enjoy and hoping something better comes along.
Do whatever pays the most.
Just as often as you hear bad career advice, you will hear the universal truth that money doesn’t buy happiness. Money is instrumental in providing yourself and your family with security, and it can open up doors to pursue the things that you enjoy, but money should never be the sole focus of your life. A job that you see as meaningful, a job that adds value to your life, a job that allows you to grow and learn through the course of your time there – all of those are worth losing out on a few dollars. Never pass up an opportunity that jumps out at you, but don’t feel like you’re undercutting yourself if you choose something that makes you happy versus something that lines your pockets a little better.
If you follow your passion, the money will find you.
This is the worst advice that exists, and it is most often given to millennials who grew up seeing their parents with zero work/life balance or are rejecting the idea that money is important. These words combined with those perceptions and attitudes are a recipe for disaster like no other. You might be passionate about drawing birds, you might be passionate about photography, and those are great pursuits, but it is important to remember that you can pursue those things outside of work or even alongside it. You aren’t “selling out” if you take a job for the money because the bills will come due whether you’ve made any or not.
Be a suck up.
Honesty is always going to be the best policy. Your superiors will undoubtedly recognize when you are doing certain things just to butter them up, and it might get you somewhere at first, but you can only ride that wave for so long. At the end of the day, you should be sincere with your bosses, and you should be sincere with potential employers because telling the truth is always more respectable. In addition to that, opening up about your opinions instead of just giving empty praise will demonstrate that you have a unique perspective and value that you bring to the table.
Don’t rock the boat.
Fitting in feels like the right thing to try to do, but it takes away your creativity, and it can absolutely tank your ambition. Sticking to the status quo is fine if you want to stay where you are forever, but chances are, you want to see yourself grow. Your employers value that in an employee, someone who is willing to use their voice and think outside the box is someone that has initiative, that is someone who is going places. Falling in line because that is what you see everyone else doing is going to snatch opportunities right out from under you.
Never overestimate yourself.
Almost no one actually overestimates themselves. Most people tend to underestimate themselves, and the people who tell you not to overestimate yourself have no idea what you’re capable of in the way that you do. Never hesitate to go for the opportunities that call out to you. You have built your career on accepting new opportunities, and you shouldn’t stop doing that on account of those who have no capacity for your talent. However, make sure that you have the time and the energy to accomplish what you’re undertaking. Be aware of your limits, but never be afraid of challenging them.
Take a job in something you’re good at.
Being good at something that you do for work is important, but it shouldn’t be your only deciding factor in taking a job. You might be really good at math, but there aren’t many people who actually enjoy math, or find meaning in creating a career out of it. The best thing that you can do is try to find a career path where your passion and skills intersect, instead of just leaning on just one end of that spectrum. Chasing your passion can leave you in a bad financial situation, but keeping your head down and just doing what you’re good at can get old fast.
Work to live, don’t live to work.
You should certainly work to live instead of pouring your entire life into your job to the point that there is nothing else going for you. However, this advice is something you should take with a grain of salt. You should find a good way to balance your life and your work. If all you care about is your time outside of the office, you are going to end up resenting the person or company that you work for and you’re going to hate your job. The same will happen if all you care about is your job. You shouldn’t live to work, but instead of working to live, you should try to find a career that appeals to you and strike a balance between that career and the rest of your life.
Refuse tasks that aren’t specific to your role.
You shouldn’t let your superiors walk all over you, you shouldn’t feel like you need to jump every single time someone says to do so; however, you don’t work for your position, you work for the company. This advice floats around out there, but you’ll also often hear the other side of the spectrum where people will tell you to never say no. You should practice saying yes carefully. People want employees that deliver, employees that rise to the occasion, and if you can be that employee without overextending yourself, you should.
Look the other way.
When something illegal or inappropriate is going on and you are complicit in it, then you will almost always get burned in the end. That is something that you’re aware of. But, beyond that, if you don’t speak up when you see this happening, then that is still being complicit. Instead of just playing along, distance yourself from the employees engaging in this behavior and be sure to speak up about it. We’re socially conditioned not to “be a snitch,” and it is hard to break out of that, but the bottom line is that you should maintain your integrity before your social standing with people who are breaking the rules (or worse, the law).