4 Ways to Spot Bad Career Advice

Career Advice

If you are beginning a job search, there is a high likelihood that you may turn to Google for a few tips to assist you in landing a new job.

When you Google “job search tips” you get about 1,100,000,000 results — in 0.33 seconds. There is enough advice out there to make your head spin. But not all job search and career advice should be followed.

The worst advice I have ever heard happened a couple of years ago.  One morning, I was watching the news when a segment came on that was based upon a LinkedIn article. The so-called expert said, “When interviewing for a job, lose the ring!”

I contained myself enough not to spit out my coffee but not so much that I didn’t spew a few choice words at the TV over the absurdity that I was hearing.

The “expert” told women to stop wearing an engagement ring to interviews because…wait for it…

“When a man sees that ring he immediately assumes you are high maintenance.  When the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger, sees that ring, she will realize that if you are hired she will fall to second place and will, therefore, not like you.”

The more I watched, the more agitated I grew.

With so much information floating around, it can leave a job seeker overwhelmed as they try to sort out the good advice from the awful advice.  Your brain is your best weapon.  Ask yourself these four questions before you take it to heart.

1. Does the advice seem logical?

What does your gut tell you? Just because an expert is giving advice does not mean it is logical.  When you are told that a woman is going to be jealous of you if you have a large ring or that a man will think you are high maintenance, bells should go off.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Something does not feel right about that.

It is petty and beyond sexist. But, let’s take it one step further. Let’s pretend that is true.  Why would you want to work for an organization that would follow that train of thought? If you were to go forward with this advice, you are putting yourself into a situation that is toxic. So, if you are left scratching your head or feel baffled after reading advice, give it a second thought before blindly following it.

2. Is the information out of date?

The internet has been around for a while now. Information may be dated. Career advice or blog posts from the past can still be relevant today, but do a check against current trends.  Make sure that your job search strategies do not leave you with the perception that you are out of touch with the present reality.

Classic examples of career advice from yesteryear include telling men to wear a dark blue suit, white shirt, and a red tie to interviews, showing up at the company in person and asking for a job, continually calling the hiring manager to ask for an interview, or submitting a paper copy of your resume on a certain type of stock-grade resume paper.

Those things may have worked years ago but hiring has evolved.  Tactics used 20 years ago can be misplaced today.

3. Is the person credible with practical knowledge?

Does the expert have relevant expertise in your field? If you are looking to tackle Silicon Valley, you might not want to follow the expertise of a hospitality recruiter in Alaska. In no way does that mean they may not have some good general advice, but if you are looking for specifics, find someone who has keen insight and expertise that matches what you are seeking.

This is particularly important when following classic career advice like I mentioned in #2. If you are in the hunt for advice on resumes or interviewing, you want to hear from people who have significant experience in hiring and not someone who has hired only a few people in their lifetime.

Check out the expert’s website or review their online profiles. Where did they gain their knowledge? What makes them a guru more than the next person? What career path led them to the position they hold today?  And, if you are looking to work with that person as your career coach, do you relate to, trust, and respect their path? If so, fantastic. If not, find a person that suits your needs.

People give advice freely on topics they do not have first-hand insight on so be cautious with something as instrumental as using their expertise to help you manage your career. Bad advice can be harmful.

4. Is the advice about absolutes and does it apply to your situation?

No advice is given in a vacuum. For every rule, there is an exception. Be careful of the advice that is black and white and of those people who hand down edicts without explaining the “whys” behind the advice.

Guess what? If your resume is two pages instead of one, contrary to popular belief, you have not just committed the greatest faux pas of your career.

Many people give advice simply by repeating adages they have heard from others or by what they have read in antiquated career guides. Consider advice from those who can explain the reasoning for the advice and not those regurgitating what they have been told. There is a lot of unscrupulous advice out there. Beware.

Jan Johnston Osburn is a Certified Career Coach and Organizational Consultant. Her organizational specialties are Talent Acquisition, Training, and Leadership Development. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Buckingham, UK, and has certifications in Executive Coaching and Advanced Social Media. Her website is www.JanJohnstonOsburn.Com.

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