With so much career advice floating around the interwebs, some of it is bound to be total bollocks. (It’s Christmas season, of course I have Love, Actually quotes on the brain.) Luckily we here at Levo don’t just trust the haphazardly doled-out opinions of self-appointed “leadership experts” and other dubious characters. We go straight to the top—men and women who have worked their way to massive career success—and ask them. What strategies actually worked for them? Which career buzz phrases should be ignored completely? Here are a few pieces of career advice that you should never follow.
1. “Always have a five-year plan.”
Haven’t you heard? Five-year plans are out, pivoting is in. Having tangible goals is awesome and necessary, but trying to plan out the next five years of your life is neither. The best opportunities are often those that you don’t see coming. Being too stuck to your “five-year plan” inhibits you from taking opportunities as they arise, and pivoting in new directions.
2. “Don’t be a job hopper.”
There are worse things to be. Namely, the quiet loyal workhorse who never leaves or makes the money she deserves. It’s a new economy people, job hopping is becoming the norm. These days, employees who stay in companies for longer than two years earn 50% less over their lifetimes. So yes, be gracious and respectful to each and every one of your employers, but certainly don’t stay in a position for fear of being labeled “a job hopper.”
3. “Follow the money.” / “Just do what you love and the money will follow.”
Equally bad advice, from opposite ends of the spectrum. Following the money with complete disregard for your interests is a surefire path toward a soul-sucking career doing something you hate. It may not even be the best financial move in the long term. On the other side of that coin, doing what you love with the expectation that financial success will miraculously follow is naive and ridiculous. As Kate White always says, think about where your interests and talents intersect with the greatest potential for financial success, and head toward those points of intersection.
4. “Don’t be too grabby. Let your work speak for itself.”
This is the kind of advice your Middle Eastern grandfather who owned a small business 40 years ago might give you (not from personal experience or anything). Even if it means well, it is just not true. Remember that episode of New Girl? Jess wants to be vice principal of her school: “I’m just hoping, you know in a few years, I’ll have enough experience that Dr. Foster will consider me for Vice Principal.” Coach asks, “Why don’t you just ask for it?” Jess says, “You can’t just ask for a promotion, you know, you have to earn the promotion with years of hard work.” Coach laughs. Please, don’t be Jess.
5. “Don’t waste time applying to jobs you know you won’t get.”
We just published a great piece from the Personal Branding Blog that addresses this very topic. Just because you think a particular job is a reach or you’re not the ideal fit, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. Within limits of course—don’t start applying for wedding photographer assistant positions if you want to be a pharmacist (unless you’ve always cultivated a secret passion for photography of course). Every job you apply to is an opportunity to tighten up your resume, hone your interview skills, and build confidence, which is never a waste of time.
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