7 Pieces of Career Advice You Should Absolutely Ignore

By Gerald Walsh ©

Parents, teachers, friends, co-workers – they all share one thing in common: they are more than happy to give you advice on your career.

Even though they are well meaning, sometimes you should just say “thank you” and discount the advice.

Here are seven examples of career advice you should ignore.

1. Find something that you’re passionate about.

On one hand, you have people telling you to find something that you love and “follow your passion.” On the other hand, you have people telling you that you have to make a living – a practical view of the world.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

If you are like most people, passions will come and go throughout your lifetime, and there can be a number of jobs that will make you happy.

How are you supposed to know if you will be happy as a graphic designer, financial analyst or banker if you haven’t actually tried any of these careers yet?

Keep your expectations realistic when you start out. Rule out things you already know you will hate. What’s left is a large pool of possibilities. Then start trying them – even if it’s by volunteering.

In the end, you will discover that you like a lot of things. You will also learn that as you master your trade and become more successful at it, the more passionate you will become.

2. Talk to a recruiter – they will find you a job.

Lots of people believe that a recruitment firm will find you a job. That is wrong, and you shouldn’t be misled into thinking that a recruiter is working for you.

While you should establish a good professional working relationship with one or more recruiters, you must remember their primary obligation is to their client – the employer.

You will only be recommended to one of their clients if the recruiter believes you have the necessary background and qualifications their client is seeking.

3. Your resume should be limited to one page.
A one-page resume is fine if your experience is so senior and you are so well established that just a line or two for each job you’ve held is all that is necessary.

Most people will need more than a page to properly explain their background. A two-page resume is perfectly acceptable, although no one will object if it even goes on to a third page.

4. Never turn down a job interview – you can always think of it as practice.

If you are “on the fence” about a job, I see nothing wrong with going to the interview to learn more. You might be pleasantly surprised.

However, if you are absolutely certain you would not take the job if it was offered to you, you should decline the interview. Taking interviews just for the practice is unethical and it will become quite obvious to the interviewer. Your reputation could be impacted and harm your long-term relationship in the market. Practice is important but do it on your own time.

5. Make sure you use the right words on your resume.

Irritating buzzwords are used all the time in business and are creeping on to resumes. Here are a few words that drive me bananas: lean in, synergize, deep dive, guesstimate, circle back, bandwidth, traction, and – my personal favourite – disruptive.

Most readers of resumes prefer clarity – precise words and short sentences that say what you mean. Stick to that principle.

6. Apply to as many jobs as possible – one is bound to work out.

This is known as the “shotgun” approach. Instead of helping you find a job, it actually works against you as it becomes perfectly clear to employers what you’re doing.

Don’t waste your time.

The best strategy is to be selective and only apply for jobs where you are a strong fit. Write a good resume and cover letter showing how your skills and experience qualify you for the job.

7. You’ll have to start going to networking events.

Networking is pretty scary for most people. It’s also ineffective as a job search tool because at these events almost everyone is trying to get something from someone else. It feels slick and insincere.

Having said that, you do need to get out there and make connections. If you do attend a networking event, make it a goal to only meet one person and spend your time really getting to know that person.

Beyond that, you will have to start tapping into your personal connections including family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, and business contacts.

And you will have to start connecting with employers directly to introduce yourself, learn about possible careers, seek referrals, and uncover potential opportunities.


To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at

Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.