How to Evaluate Good and Bad Career Advice

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We’ve discussed before how using your dating skills can help you find a job. But career advice is like romantic advice in some other ways as well. We often need it, sometimes we ask for it and everyone seems to love giving it whether they’ve been asked or not. Without it, we would face an uncharted world alone and we’d be constantly reinventing wheels and working to solve problems that we could easily overcome if we just tuned into the wisdom and life experience of those around us.

But sometimes advice can lead us astray, and sometimes it’s delivered by people who don’t have our best interests in mind. Here at LiveCareer, we’ve seen and heard plenty of both good and bad advice. Here’s what we’ve learned.

How to Recognize Bad Career Advice

  1. The advice comes from someone who’s unhappy in his career and makes no attempt to recognize or learn from his own situation. Your dad spent his entire life as a salesman instead of becoming a pediatrician because he was afraid to apply to medical school and risk the shame of rejection. He doesn’t like anything about sales, and now he’s counting the days till he can retire. If you want to go to medical school and he warns you away from it, give him a hug and start filling out those application forms. 


  2. The advice comes from someone who is entirely appearance-oriented. If you have a friend who only respects those who drive expensive cars, and she pressures you to either take a job on Wall Street or face life as a hopeless loser, smile kindly and back toward the door. 

  3. The advice is framed as personal, but comes from someone who doesn’t know you. Guidance counselors are sometimes guilty of this. People who deliver this advice want you to “succeed,” but they see you as a walking statistic, not a friend. These people tend to display poor listening skills. 
  4. The advice is not grounded in reality or experience. Watch out for an advisor who speaks entirely in clichés and does so with great passion. He or she usually instructs – or commands – you to follow your heart or chase your dreams. This person won’t be there to bail you out when you’re 35 and crushed by debt. Keep this in mind. 

How to Recognize Good Career Advice

  1. Good career advice comes from those who listen first and advise second. The best guidance counselors are people who know you well and understand the kinds of workdays that suit your nature, as opposed to days you may find miserable or draining. 

  2. Good advice comes from someone who’s experienced multiple workplaces or careers. Even better, the tips come from someone who listens carefully to other peoples’ stories. 

  3. Good advice is delivered in a calm voice. It’s also disinterested, meaning the person doesn’t confuse your “success” with his or her own. 

  4. Good career advice comes from people who learn from the things that happen to them. They make plenty of mistakes, but each mistake steers them closer to a place of fulfillment. 

Test Yourself

So there it is. You can now separate the good pieces of advice from the bad. You’re good to go, right?

You need to figure out if you’re giving yourself the best advice possible. Fortunately, you can take a career test on LiveCareer and discover if you’re on the right career path. You’ll enjoy answering each question, and you might be surprised by the results.

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