Worst. Career Advice. Ever.

Radhika Sivadi

4 min read ·


Aren't we all tired of the same old career advice?

I'm talking about advice written by people who haven't gotten a job in 30 years. If they haven't interviewed in this job market, how can they help you find a job you love?

You can spot these so-called "experts' because they slap on phrases like "social media" onto the same old tips that have been passed around for 50 years.

It's even worse for women, where career advice is almost unreadable. With phrases like "You go, girl" and thousands of references to shoes and "climbing the ladder," I found myself wondering: Are women really this dumb? The answer is no. But the advice is.

Don't believe me? Check out these 5 winners of the "Worst Career Advice Ever" award:

1. The #1 thing you need for a job search is…

Yes! If you've been looking for your Dream Job, the first thing you need is NOT a strong network, or a process to identify your targets, or a way to narrow down the infinite universe of job options available to you. No, you don't need to understand your psychological barriers, or the interviewing game, or how to master negotiation.

Nope! You need business cards. See the screenshot below for a real world example of the kind of thing I'm talking about.

Solution: Ignore advice about business cards. Use online research to create a crisp list of companies and job titles you would love to work for. Then begin sending targeted emails.

2. This is what passes for "scripts" from other sites

The last line in the screenshot above is my favorite part. It's so simple! Just expand! Hey…start a business. That's right, just start it. Now, get some customers and you'll be a millionaire! Really. Start a business, get some customers, become a millionaire. If only it were that easy.

Solution: Ignore general advice. Here are some actual word-for-word scripts you can use for networking and interviewing.

3. Follow your passion!

Passion, and 'what you were born to do' as in the screenshot above, sounds great. But you can be passionate about something, and if nobody values that, you're not getting a job! Hundreds of thousands if not millions of people are passionate about baseball — but they aren't all getting jobs in baseball — there just isn't room.

Solution: Truth is, passion alone is overrated. There may be barriers to making money from your passion. What if you love art but just cannot make money at it doing it the way you love? That's a problem. There's a better way to find a job you're passionate about:

4. Don't close any doors!

Keeping all doors open is a uniquely American idea. But keeping all doors open as in the example above can be crippling. Being faced with too many choices means you'll never get a focus and build the level of expertise you'll need to excel.

Solution: Use a "testing" approach to narrow down your options and pursue excellence in one area. You don't have to close doors, but narrowing down your options will make your decisions easier.

5. If you tweet it, they will come.

The advice above is common. But starting a blog is one of the last things you need to do to get a job. Instead, focus on finding companies and job titles where you can add value, and reach out personally to the hiring managers.

Solution: If you don't have a warm connection, use LinkedIn to find connections who can introduce you to hiring managers or HR reps.

Why is this career advice so bad?
This is what seriously passes for career advice — in some of the largest media sources in the world. Is anyone else outraged?

I'm mad because most experts never test their advice. They say things like "follow your passion!" and never follow up to see if that helped at all.

I'm mad because we're fed platitudes for our entire adolescence ("Go to college! Get a good job! Buy a house!") and provided no guidance on how the game is actually played. For example, who ever told you that buying a house is very often a horrible investment? Who told you that submitting your resume through the front door of a company (via its website) is a quick route to being considered a total commodity — like the hundreds of other applicants?

I'm mad because the career advice we get is unspecific at best and blatantly wrong at worst. I have literally never, ever gotten any job because of my business card.

The ultimate irony is that there are top performers getting the best jobs in this terrible economy. And most of us don't even know that it's happening.

So I say enough of this terrible, damaging career advice. Let's focus on what really works. Now, if you're ready to change, here's some of my best advice on finding your dream job.

Radhika Sivadi