There are so many people out there ready to give advice, and some of them can be a huge help. However, other well-meaning people can send you in the wrong direction, or they may give you advice that would be great for someone else, but won’t work in your own situation. Most career advice should be tailored to a specific person, but there is other career advice that just isn’t right for most people.
Your job is to filter through the advice you receive, and to be sure to avoid career advice that isn’t going to help you. Also, be sure to avoid the worst money advice as well; even with a strong career you will face financial hardship if you make certain mistakes. People want to help, but sometimes you have to make your own decisions. Here are four different types of career advice you should think carefully about, and then probably reject.
1. Follow your passion
This is bad advice if you follow it blindly. While it’s true that having a job you care about is a great idea, and may very well help you succeed, you can’t make a job out of everything. For example, if your passion is for Greek and Roman life, but you don’t want to be a professor or go to school for a long time, then you probably shouldn’t major in the classics. A better idea would be to enter a field that would allow you to travel to Greece or Rome, or study these topics during your free time.
If possible, study and work in a field that you are passionate about, but don’t confuse a hobby with a career. Photography is a fantastic hobby, and many people can make a career out of it, but others can’t make enough money to survive. You need to be practical in addition to finding a job you love. If possible, avoid studying art, drama, interior design, or child and family studies; instead, consider an alternate major and career with better prospects.
2. Don’t settle
As previously mentioned, most career advice is tailored to the person receiving it (or it should be). There are many reasons you should be wary of settling, but you need to think about your specific situation. Settling might mean one thing to someone else, and something completely different to you. If you have been doing poorly at work, or you are facing a demotion for some other reason, then don’t assume you can’t take it. If you tried out a new position and it didn’t work, and now you and your boss agree that you should return to your previous position, that doesn’t mean you need to quit. People have specific skills, and yours may not be the best fit for some jobs.
Also, if you have been looking for work for a long time, and you need to take a job but you don’t want to settle, first you need to determine what settling actually means. If you need to make money in order to pay your bills, and you are offered a job that pays less than your last job, but you would truly enjoy it, then it’s important to consider the offer. Settling for the wrong job at the wrong pay is a bad choice, but you don’t have to agree with what someone else deems to be bad.
3. Go back to school
Certain jobs require a specific degree, and if you want to get a job in one of these fields, then you will need to earn the appropriate degree. However, don’t assume that going to school and earning a higher degree is the right answer in every situation. If you enjoy your job and you don’t need a higher degree to advance, then there is little advantage to earning one. While it’s true that an advanced degree can help you make more, this isn’t always the case. Many employers want experience, and if you earn an advanced degree in a field but you are competing against people with a lot of experience, you may find yourself with more debt and no job.
According to the 2015-2016 PayScale College Salary Report, the top highest paying graduate degrees include these majors: petroleum engineering, nurse anesthesia, strategy, general & strategic management, and finance and real estate. So unless you’re planning to study one of these fields, be sure to carefully assess your situation and determine if returning to school would be financially advantageous in your situation.
4. Don’t take risks
There are certain risks you shouldn’t take. For example, don’t risk your job by gossiping inappropriately with co-workers, or by insulting your boss. Don’t miss important meetings or show up to work late on a regular basis. These risks are not worth taking, but most risks do benefit your career in the long run. If you simply do your work quietly, and you never stand up for your abilities or inform your boss of your hard work, then you might not advance. Try to take on new projects when possible. Apply for promotions even if you think that you might not get them (but make sure you’re qualified). Attend work conferences, and meet new people. The more healthy risks you take, the better chance that your career will advance the way you want it to.
According to Susan Coelius Keplinger writing for Fortune, risk-taking is an accelerator that can move your career forward, and it can be a skill to keep taking risks. So practice taking smaller risks, and then you can take on bigger risks when you are more comfortable.
It can be helpful to receive career advice from people you admire. Just be sure to only follow the advice that you believe is right for you.