Where do you turn to for advice when changing careers or starting a new job? Maneuvering a successful career path can be difficult, and we tend to welcome any help.
No matter the milestone you are approaching, there is always someone with the advice they feel you should heed.
We asked nine professionals about the worst career advice they have ever received. The painful truth is lousy career advice is in abundance, and from their responses, that is not changing anytime soon.
Worst Career Advice
Here are the top pieces we've received for the worst career advice ever:
“Follow your passions, and the money will come!”
The advice given to Melanie Allen of Partners In Fire Blog was to follow her passions and worry about creating wealth later. She stated, “We're often told to follow our dreams and worry about the money later.
The harsh reality is that most people won't make enough money to survive if they only follow their passions. That doesn't mean skipping your passions. Instead, pursue a career that makes a ton of money and work on your passions on the side.
In 10 or so years, you should be close to Coast Fire at your normal job and should be able to make a decent living with your passion projects.”
Melanie Allen at partnersinfire.com
Davin Eberhardt was given similar advice and was told to “do what you love.”
David explains, “Just do what I love; that's what they told me. Doing what you enjoy isn't bad advice, but there is more to making it work.
In my younger years, I chased many creative careers where only the top 1% made a good living. Only to struggle and move on to the next idea.
The cycle repeated for almost two decades. Over time, I have discovered that the keys to creating an enjoyable career are knowing yourself (strengths, weaknesses, personality) and aligning those with helping solve people's problems. Ideally, a repeatable service or product that solves an essential need.”
Davin Eberhardt at natureofhome.com
“Fake it till you make it.”
Sanjana Vig, a blogger at The Female Professional, was advised to “fake it 'till you make it.” She disagrees with that advice.
Sajana said, “Everyone says to fake it till you make it so that you can get a job you aren't qualified for and then cruise to the next level.
However, succeeding in any job requires effort. Fake it till you make it mindset will not get you where you need to be to elevate your career.
It takes work, mindfulness, effort, continuous learning, humility, and self-motivation to grow and gain expertise. This method may get you in the door, but you can't fake it to the top.”
Sanjana Vig at thefemaleprofessional.com
“Go to college, and the job will come.”
Jason Butler was advised to focus on education, and everything else such as buying a house would fall into place afterwards.
He said, “In the past, the above statement might have been true, but unfortunately, that's not the case anymore. You can't just go to college and expect an excellent, high-paying job afterward.
These days you have to do more than that. You have to network and meet people in the profession that interests you.
It would help if you also did some internships in the industry. Those things will help you get that job. In this day and age, it's more about who you know than what you know.”
Jason Butler at mymoneychronicles.com
Sometimes you are so miserable in a job that you want to quit immediately. Amanda Kay of My Life, I Guess suggests a more rational reaction.
Amanda Kay states, “Some jobs are terrible, but that doesn't mean you should just quit them. Quitting a job is a big deal! You could be unemployed for months and have no way to support yourself or your family.
Instead, plan to leave on the right terms. Keep doing your job well, but start job searching, upgrading your skills, and connecting with your network (be sure to do this outside of work).
This approach will also help ensure you maintain a professional reputation and have quality references when offered a new job elsewhere.”
Amanda Kay mylifeiguess.com
“Figure out what you want your career path to be.”
“It started early in my career. I was always a top performer. My managers wanted to help me. They knew the roles I was in were only temporary.
Their focus on me was consistently to come up with a career path so they could help me get there. My answers were always the same “I don't know what exists.
I just want to work on interesting problems”. It was an issue many times because it would frustrate my managers. They could not fill out their HR review documentation on me and have clear, actionable items for my growth because I didn't want a career path.
My take has always been “pursue what is interesting until it isn't.” Fast forward my career 22 years. I had changed job paths within Financial Services and increased my income many times.
I have always believed that if you become what you want to be when you grow up, it means you didn't learn anything along the way.”
Greg Wilson at chachingqueen.com
“You can be anything you want to be.”
Right off the bat, you can't be anything you want to be (at least not professionally).
Most parents are guilty of giving this advice, which comes from a place of love and care. However, the reality of life shakes the foundation of this “nugget.”
Jude Uchella explains, “We all have strengths and weaknesses, and wanting to be what we aren't good will likely end in disappointment.
A better piece of advice is “discover your biggest strength and explore it” – it is easier to become successful doing what you can than breaking your back doing what you can't.”
Jude Uchella at healthmakesyou.com
“Your company cares about you.”
“Your company cares about you” is a sentiment everywhere. All the large media sites that post CEO features talk about how they want to “improve company culture” and “we really care about our employees.”
Max Marvelous says that “although the sentiment sounds good on paper, it is seldom, if ever, a reality. To nearly all corporate entities, you, an individual worker, are one line on the balance sheet.
You are a financial number that can be replaced by the incoming graduating class for cheaper. You will be fired in most circumstances without any second thought about how this will affect your life.
The best way to counteract this is to continually improve yourself and become the best you can be in your field. The prospect of firing the top performer becomes much more difficult for any company management.
Remember, to secure your place within a company, you must excel and not do the bare minimum. You will be eliminated in short order, especially with the worsening economy each month.”
Max Marvelous at maxmymoney.org
“Fit in with the team.”
Everyone mentioned so far has gotten lousy career advice; Tim Thomas is no different.
Tim details his experience, “I did a lot of temp work when I was younger, one day I asked my then manager whether the company was going to keep me on at the end of the contract and offer me the elusive permanent role.
He said that if my face fitted into the team, there was a good chance I could be kept on. There I was doing the best job I could, and it simply came down to whether you could talk about your football team after the weekend games.
They never offered me a permanent job, and I was bitter about what he had said, but in hindsight, it probably was a great piece of advice – focus on building relationships.”
Tim Thomas at Wealthy Living.
“Show up early; stay late.”
In most work cultures, success is measured by the amount of work done or the individual worker's achievements. Due to this, Latoyia was advised to show up early and stay late to stand out amongst the crowd.
Latoyia describes her experience, “When I was getting my Master's degree, a family member told me to do whatever I needed to do to stand out, even if that meant showing up early and staying late.
Unfortunately, my success was measured by my progress on my research project, not by how long I was around each day. This advice earned me a lot of wasted time.”
LaToyia at theimpulsetraveler.com
Final Word on Worst Career Advice
It is clear that people have given some terrible career advice. The concluding message is that something that works for one person does not mean it will work for everyone.
Additionally, the road to success is not straight but one with curves, speed bumps, and detours.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.
Tim Thomas was born in Guildford and now lives near Southampton, the UK with his family. Tim started his career in the financial markets and has traded and invested in stocks, options, forex, futures, crypto, and real estate for over 20 years. His website, https://timthomas.co/, is dedicated to teaching swing trading strategies for profits, helping traders reach their wealth and financial freedom goals.