I hope you’re coming to this site because you’re seeking solid career advice—and more importantly, that you’re finding it! However, not all career advice is created equal. You should feel free to ignore “advice” like the tips below. They can seriously hamstring your career path progress or get you stuck in a job that makes you stressed and unhappy.
1. “Do your best to fit in.”
Everyone wants job security, and conventional wisdom often tells us that to get it, you should be a cheerful and accommodating member of the team. While being a good team player is going to be necessary in every job you have, that doesn’t mean you have to be a drone who looks, thinks, and acts like everyone else around you. Don’t be afraid to speak up (while still being professional and considerate about it) and be yourself.
If you’re afraid to be honest about who you are, or express your ideas, that could be a symptom that the job or the company just isn’t the right fit for you. Trying to flatten yourself in the name of getting along will definitely shortchange you in the long run. There could very well be a better fit out there, where the authentic you will be welcomed with open arms.
2. “Follow the money.”
To an extent, we’re all mercenary creatures—we have to be, if we want to provide for ourselves and our families (and in my case, a dog with extravagant taste in kibble). That doesn’t mean salary should be the only consideration when accepting or staying at a job. If you’re unhappy or unchallenged at your job but you find that you’re staying there because you’re afraid of earning less elsewhere, that’s a red flag. Think about the minimum salary you’d feel comfortable accepting, if it meant doing a job where you felt the work was meaningful and in line with your goals.
3. “Never turn down an opportunity.”
If you applied and interviewed for a job, there’s a good chance you want it. But it’s also possible that during that process, you discovered that the position might not be as great a fit as you expected. They offer you the job anyway—what do you do?
It can be hard to say no, especially if it’s a profitable or prestigious upgrade for you. This is a case where you need to listen to your gut. If an opportunity just isn’t right for you, it’s okay to turn it down. Your best interests aren’t just served by your bank account or your job title.
4. “Do what you’re passionate about.”
This one sounds great. Who doesn’t want to love their work? In reality, it can be kind of a rabbit hole, where you’re chasing a career path that will never bring you much in the way of fulfillment or stability. If you love music, “rock star” isn’t the most realistic career goal. If you have an idea for a novel, quitting your job to spend all day at a coffee house with your laptop might not be the wisest decision.
If you can find tangible job opportunities in your ideal field, great! Otherwise, maybe a freelance career on the side is the best way to go. Having your passion projects separate from your main career path will help give you balance, while also making sure you can pay the bills.
When it comes to any career advice, make sure you’re looking at it in the light of whether it’s best for you. What works for my professional life might not work for yours, and vice versa. It’s always okay to say “This just isn’t right for me,” and find the strategies that get you where you want to go.