Career advice. You can’t avoid it. Websites like Monster, Career Builder and LinkedIn thrive on providing career advice to young men and women entering the workforce.
But that doesn’t mean you have to take it to heart. Career advice is not “one size fits all.” What works in one company (or one department), may not fit in the next.
And not everyone who gives advice is looking out for your best interest. For instance, any advice from your boss is probably intended to increase “productivity” and improve the company’s “bottom line.” Whatever.
I’ve been given a lot of advice over the years. As I look back on 25 years of job-seeking, interviews, annual reviews, and promotions, I have to admit that most of the advice was pretty useless. Much of my success in my job came after I had given up on trying to get promoted. Many of my best opportunities came when I was on the verge of being shown the door.
Without further ado, here’s a list of some of the career advice I’ve received over the years. For the most part, I’ve ignored it.
Career Advice I Have Ignored Without Consequence (Almost)
- Arrive on time.
- Dress for the job you want.
- Don’t insert song lyrics into the website content.
- Be seen at the office holiday party.
- Take your annual review seriously.
- Don’t use pictures of celebrities in the staff meeting presentation.
- Keep a professional distance from the people you manage.
- Find someone to be your mentor.
- Don’t fall in love with a co-worker.
- Work long hours.
- Do whatever it takes to get promoted.
- Don’t put hidden messages in the advertising copy.
- Never update your resume at work.
- Don’t quit your job until you have a new one.
- Don’t fax a copy of your three-page resignation letter to corporate headquarters.
Like I said, I’ve ignored this advice. And most of it was without consequence. Falling in love, well that led to a marriage to a wonderful woman and years of happiness. It’s a consequence I can live with.
I do think I have some wisdom to impart to the next generation of corporate America. Maybe it’s not the best advice, but I think it has served me well. And it all boils down to this:
Ignore career advice.
Be your own person. Forge your own destiny. Like Chevy Chase once said, “Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.”