Useless Career Advice That Everyone Gives

One thing there is no shortage of is useless career advice from well-meaning friends, family, teachers, and career counsellors.

Even though their advice is genuine, often it won’t help with your job search. You should politely say “thanks” and move on.

I am curious to hear what career advice you’ve received that hasn’t helped.

Here are seven examples of useless career advice I’ve noted.

1. Your resume should only be one page. 

A one-page resume is okay if you are very senior and well established in your field. But most people will need more than a page to explain their background. A two-page resume is fine, although three pages is acceptable if necessary.

2. Talk to a recruiter—they will find you a job.

Don’t be misled into thinking that a recruiter is working for you. Their primary obligation is to their client—the employer.

Having said that, you should establish a working relationship with one or more recruiters. But you will only be recommended to one of their clients if the recruiter feels you have the background and qualifications their client is seeking.

3. Find something that you’re passionate about.

If you are like most people, passions will come and go throughout your lifetime, and there can be several jobs that will make you happy.

But there is only one way to find your passion. And that’s by trying things out. Seriously, how are you supposed to know if you will be happy as a graphic designer, financial analyst or banker if you haven’t tried any of these careers yet?

In the end, you will discover that you like a lot of things. You will also learn that as you master your trade and become more successful at it, the more passionate you will become.

4. Never turn down a job interview—you can always think of it as practice.

If you are “on the fence” about a job, there is nothing wrong with going to the interview to learn more. You might be pleasantly surprised.

However, if you are certain you will not take the job if offered, you should decline the interview. Taking interviews just for practice is unethical and it will be obvious to the interviewer. Practice is important but do it on your own time.

5. Apply to as many jobs as possible—one is bound to work out.

The “shotgun” approach to job search never works. Don’t waste your time, or the employer’s.

The best strategy is to be selective and only apply for jobs where you are a strong fit. Write a good resume and cover letter showing how your skills and experience qualify you for the job.

6. Make sure you use the right words on your resume.

Irritating buzzwords are used all the time in business and are creeping into resumes. Here are a few words that drive me crazy: lean in, synergize, deep dive, guesstimate, circle back, bandwidth, traction, and – my personal favourite – disruptive.

Most readers of resumes prefer clarity. Use precise words and short sentences that say what you mean.

7. You’ll have to go to networking events.

Networking is intimidating for most people. It’s also ineffective as a job search tool because, at these events, almost everyone is trying to get something from someone else.

Having said that, you do need to get out there and make connections. If you do attend a networking event, make it a goal to only meet one person and spend your time really getting to know that person.

You will have to start connecting with employers directly to introduce yourself, learn about possible careers, seek referrals, and uncover potential opportunities.