There is a lot of bad advice out there for people, especially regarding their careers. We cannot go through all of them, but there are a few that I would like to dispel here.
Passion at Work?
The most egregious example of giving bad advice is when you advise someone to find a job they are passionate about. Okay, that statement sounds harmless, but it can have unintended consequences.
Most of the time, this advice is offered to someone who is just starting out in their career. If they are young and impressionable, they may value passion above anything else.
A more experienced professional would understand that passion is a nice to have and a goal to work towards. However, the priority for a professional is to find stable employment and then work their way into a career they can be passionate about.
A Twenty-something straight out of college may not understand that trajectory. They seek their ideal career and ignore other opportunities in the meantime. Or worse, they get a job in the career they are passionate about only to realize they do not like it.
According to 80000Hours.org , “Research shows we’re bad at predicting what will make us happiest ahead of time.” Our interests do not translate well into real careers.
Also, you may not be willing to go through years of working your way up from the bottom to do what truly interests you. For example, if you want to be a writer, it is not likely that you can just start writing novels and become famous. It takes years of experience before you can get to the level of success you dream about.
Just Wait Until Review Time
Another piece of bad advice frequently offered is to wait until your performance review to express problems at work. There is usually a time and a place for everything, but in this case the time is A.S.A.P.
However, that is the wrong opinion when it comes to expressing a concern about your manager or work environment. Your company probably requires an annual review, maybe even a semi-annual review. But waiting all year or 6 months to discuss something that is happening at work is a mistake.
Your review time should not be the only time to talk about issues at work. Do not be afraid to schedule a meeting with your manager or a senior manager to address any concerns.
If you are considering bringing this up during a review or formal meeting, then it is probably affecting your work daily. Any manager will tell you that now is always the best time to solve a problem with a co-worker or a manager. Nobody benefits from letting these problems fester and become serious problems.
Get Your MBA
An MBA has become the symbol of success for those of us in corporate America. For a long time it represented prestige, expensive suits and corner offices. This is not the case anymore.
The first problem was market saturation. The majority of colleges and universities began to offer MBAs. The MBA became necessary for anybody serious about their career in business.
Then the economy crashed in 2008. We had a generation of young people who were not able to find jobs due to competition in the labor market. The answer…go back to school and get your MBA.
Today, I can’t throw a stick without hitting 3 MBAs, and that’s just in my isle. The job market continues to be just as competitive, but now you are competing with herds of other MBA’s.
However, companies searching for talent have also noticed this trend, which brings us to the next problem. We have a generation of highly educated candidates who have little applicable experience.
The promise of performance that the MBA symbolizes no longer persuades hiring managers and recruiters. They look for experience and results. They want to know how you have used your education to make a difference to your company.
Before pursuing your MBA take the time to weigh the costs and benefits specific to you. I review a number of considerations in an earlier article here.
Climb the Corporate Ladder
There is nothing new about the idea of progressing into more senior positions throughout your career. However, I feel like we take the idea too literally.
It makes sense that we start out as an analyst, become a senior analyst, then associate, etc. The more experience we have in a particular area makes us qualified to do more in that area.
Although, I do not think that progression is always so simple and following that path may hurt your career progress. Obtaining experience in one discipline only prepares you to continue doing more of that discipline. At some point, the more senior position will require a different skillset.
As you climb past the analyst/specialist level, you quickly realize that work becomes more complex. You have to work with other groups, solve unique problems, or understand how your work affects other departments. This becomes more difficult if your experience is only vertical.
Often, senior executives have experience in numerous areas and even different companies. According to The Muse, broad experience gives you the type of perspective you need in a senior role.
What this diverse experience provides is Transferable Skills, which I go into more here . This allows you to progress further in your career, and it will help you when you lose your job.
Stick it out for a Year or Two
It would be difficult to go through the process of getting a new job only to realize that it was a mistake. When we decide to pursue a new opportunity, we are excited and hopeful about the new role. It is not easy to admit that the job is not a good fit.
The standard advice in this situation is … something about lying in a bed that you have made. However, that is not good advice. The decision to remain in a position that you are not happy with can have adverse effects on your career.
Your performance will suffer in this role if you are unhappy. If you are not performing at your best, you will not get the full benefits of this job experience. You also run the risk of losing your job by not doing your best work.
When you are sure this role will not be a good fit, the best course of action is to start looking for another job. Make sure you have been in the role a month or more and have tried all you can do to make the situation better.
According to The Ladders, the best thing you can do is move quickly. Trust your instincts and begin to work on updating your resume. Be honest on your resume, and learn how to address the quick exit.
When recruiters ask why you are leaving the company so soon, express that it was not a good fit and you decided to leave. You do not have to go into detail and do not be defensive. Practice what you are going to say, because how you deliver this information is just as important as what you say.
So to wrap up…
- Passion is a goal to work towards, not a requirement
- Don’t hold your tongue until time for reviews
- An MBA is not what it once was
- The Corporate Ladder is crooked
- If things are bad, bail out
Remember to subscribe below to continue receiving real world career advice.