7 Worst Pieces of Career Advice to Avoid

There’s a lot of career advice out there, and some of it is pretty bad. When it comes to navigating your career, you have to be careful about from whom you take career advice. A wrong move could cost you a job. Here are some career tips experts say you’d be better off avoiding.

1. A flashy resume will help you stand out

Man holding resume

Don’t get too creative. | iStock.com

A flashy resume could cause your application to get passed over. While a little creativity is welcome, going overboard is a problem, said Saad Rizvi, founder of career site Mentat.

“In many cases, the first-round interview screen is conducted by an ATS or Application Tracking System (in simple terms, a robot). These programs are optimized for gathering information from a very basic design, and fancy graphs or pictures are not picked up or taken into consideration while filtering out resumes, so you might be passed over despite being a good fit for the role,” Rizvi told The Cheat Sheet.

2. Apply for as many jobs as you can at one company


Resist the urge to blast your application to everyone at the same company. | iStock.com

No matter how tempting, resist the urge to send your application to everyone at the same company. Also, resist the urge to apply for multiple jobs at the same company. Marissa Peretz, founder of Silicon Beach Talent, said doing a resume blast reeks of desperation.

“[Don’t] cast too wide a net,” Peretz said. “Emailing everyone whose email address you can find at a specific company or applying to many open jobs at one company can convey an air of desperation. People sometimes fall in love with a specific company, and that’s understandable, but the way to increase your chances is to think about these opportunities strategically. I suggest only applying to roles you are actually a fit for, and try to network with people at a company you’re interested in or speak with recruiters who can help present you directly.”

3. Stay at a new job for at least 1 year

Overworked man in his cubicle

If you’re miserable at a new job, don’t feel obligated to finish out the year. | iStock.com

Job hopping looks bad on your resume, but if you’re miserable at a new job, don’t feel obligated to finish out the year. This is especially true if your job is making you sick. Debbie Chew, head of operations at Codementor, told The Cheat Sheet it’s best to leave and search for another opportunity.

“If you’re downright unhappy with your job and you’re unable to cope, then it’s not worth it to pretend to be happy or stay,” Chew said. “Instead of wasting your time at a job not suitable for you, you can be doing other things like learning a new skill or finding a different job.”

4. Go on interviews for jobs you aren’t interested in just for practice

candidate in a job interview

Only interview for jobs you would actually consider taking. | iStock.com

Practice on your own time. Lori Bumgarner, career specialist and owner of passion and career coaching service paNASH, said hiring managers have a sixth sense and will know immediately what you’re doing. Your best bet is only to interview for jobs you would actually consider taking.

“Avoid interviewing for a job you don’t intend to take if offered just for interview practice,” Bumgarner said. “Recruiters can often sense when a candidate is doing this, and recruiters run in the same circles (especially within the same industry), and they talk to each other. Word will get around if a candidate is known for doing this, which could hurt their chances of getting an interview or an offer for a job they actually want. … If you want to improve your interview skills, do some mock interviews with friends or family who are in hiring positions at their jobs or with a career coach.”

5. Demonstrate that you’re good at everything

illustration of a man multitasking with several arms

You shouldn’t oversell yourself to the point where you look unskilled. | iStock.com

Although it’s tempting to show the interviewer you fulfill the job description, don’t overdo it. Working too hard to show your future employer you possess many talents will just make you look like you aren’t good at your specialty. It is good to show you can do more than one job, but you shouldn’t oversell yourself to the point where you look unskilled, Peretz said.

“Sometimes, especially on an initial phone screen with a hiring manager, people think they need to communicate they have a variety of diverse skill sets so that they stand out from the crowd,” Peretz said. “That can be a dangerous maneuver because it can be a trap. Often, a hiring manager wants to hear a demonstrated depth of skill or knowledge in a specific area. The more someone tries to sound like the person who can do it all, the more quickly it will become apparent that they are not the right fit for the current role.”

6. Be completely honest

woman having job interview

If you absolutely hated your boss, don’t be brutally honest about it. | iStock.com

Some things are better left unsaid or presented in a neutral manner. For example, if you absolutely hated your boss, don’t be brutally honest about it. Instead, emphasize what you learned at that job and move on.

“When interviewing for a job, you’re often asked what accomplishments you had in your previous company or what you liked and disliked,” Chew said. “If you only have negative things to stay, that will not leave a good impression on those trying to decide whether to hire you.”

7. Cover letters are outdated

businessman working in office

It’s in your best interest to include a cover letter every time. | iStock.com/anyaberkut

A cover letter is your introduction to the hiring manager. Failing to include a cover letter is like coming in the interviewer’s office and sitting down without saying hello. It’s in your best interest to include a cover letter every time you send your resume, Rizvi advised.

“While it’s true many hiring managers don’t read cover letters and go straight to the resumes, the candidate not taking the time to write one signals a lack of excitement and interest in the job,” Rizvi said. “In some cases, it might disqualify a candidate entirely (despite being stated as optional in the application). In other cases, it might be a handicap in the interview process.”

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