Professional Development

Do these cliché career tips actually work?

Written by Eric Titner

Does this sound familiar? You’re trying to figure out your future and you’re in the midst of some serious career planning, when all of a sudden you’re inundated on all sides by a hurricane of advice on what to do, what not to do, and how to move forward.

The truth is, when it comes to career planning most people think they have all the right answers when they’re dishing out clichéd and uninformed advice to others, and if you’re the unwitting recipient of these tired tips from everyone in your life you’re likely feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn.

Don’t bother doing a blind search on the Internet for career tip guidance—you’ll only encounter the same sort of tired advice that contradicts itself and takes all sides and forms depending on where you look. So, with all of this “career noise” at every turn, how do you know what to believe and follow?

You should always do what you love.

This is a nice thought, and it would be an interesting world if everyone got to do exactly what they want to do or love. But the truth is, reality sometimes holds a different view of how our careers should play out. While it can be a good idea to pursue a dream, it can be foolhardy to pursue it forever—after all, a noble pursuit like following your dream won’t pay your bills. Besides, it’s possible to find happiness and fulfillment while pursuing a backup plan. Use logic and reality as your guide when deciding between pursuing your dream and choosing an acceptable alternative.

Don’t leave your current job until you have a new one lined up.

This job advice tidbit is as old as it gets—but does that necessarily mean it’s sound advice? This tip gets particularly murky if your job environment is especially toxic or unhealthy. Sure, it makes sense to have a steady paycheck and job history while job hunting and until something new comes along, but life is short and if you’re really in a difficult or miserable spot, then it may be worthwhile to see if you can survive if you left your job. Besides, it’s easier to job hunt when you have more time to focus on it. Once again, fully weigh your situation, along with the pros and cons, and decide wisely.

Don’t leave a job before you’ve been there for at least a year.

Everyone has heard this one before, but is it actually sound advice? Employers like to work with people who stick around since it’s so expensive to recruit and train them.”

However, they also suggest that reality might not be so black and white: “While you want to avoid having lots of short stays in your job history, most people will understand if there was a particular situation that wasn’t great. If it’s your boss or the day-to-day nature of your work that’s not what you expected, keep in mind that there are sometimes options to change positions without leaving the organization. Start by looking for new responsibilities and discussing a transfer to another team. If, after that, you’re still itching to get out, update your resume and re-start your job hunt.”

If you change your field you’ll have to start at the bottom.

Are you finding yourself in a position where you’re thinking of a complete career overhaul? If so, then you’ve undoubtedly encountered this advice, which came from the notion that you always have to “pay your dues” when starting out in an industry and work your way up from the bottom. But whoever originally came up with this one obviously never thought about the value of transferable work experience and skills. According to The Muse, “if you’ve already put time into your current career, you probably have more skills that transfer from field to field than you recognize. Not just that, but your years of work have also taught you how to network, which can play a role in getting off the ground floor.” Bottom line: recognize your value and transferable skill set when considering what positions in other fields make sense for you, and don’t let this tired old cliché deter you from pursuing a new career in a new field.

There you have it—a fresh look on some old career tip clichés. Use the information provided here to help declutter your brain when it gets too full of competing advice and you’ll be on your way to make smart career decisions in no time.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.