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March 6, 2023

8 Common Pieces of Career Advice You Should Ignore at All Costs – like the 1 page resume

Career advice is a lot like relationship advice. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, someone bulldozes in to offer up their opinion — whether you asked for it or not. Before long, you’re second-guessing your own judgment and feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting advice you’ve received and the difficult decisions you need to make.

Sifting through a barrage of unsolicited career advice can be just as daunting and, unfortunately, it’s equally unavoidable. Whether it’s your friends and family, work colleagues, your manager, a career blog, or a leadership expert, there will always be someone trying to offer suggestions on how to make a success of your professional life.

There may well be times when you’re offered some truly valuable and career-changing advice, but you’ll likely receive your fair share of terrible tips too. Here are eight pieces of career advice you should absolutely ignore.

1. Stick to Your Five-year Career Plan at All Costs

Creating a one, five, or even a 10-year plan can be a great source of comfort that provides you with structure, purpose, and motivation. But the likelihood is it won’t work out quite as you expected, and the sooner you accept that, the better.

Instead, learn to embrace change and prepare to respond to inevitable changes in the world, your workplace, and your personal life. A reluctance to deviate from a career plan will only serve to reduce opportunities and stifle your career progression.

2. Don’t Job Hop

If someone is going to give you this piece of advice, it’ll probably be your out-of-touch manager who can’t bear the thought of letting you go to another company.

You’ll likely enjoy a long and varied career, which will include hopping between different organizations, seizing opportunities when they come your way, and experimenting with different roles and responsibilities. You owe your employer hard work and good performance, but you certainly don’t owe them an unwavering dedication to a job that may not cater to your needs in the years to come. 

3. Focus on Doing What You Love

At the risk of sounding cynical, chasing your passions in the hope of finding a job you truly love can only get you so far.

Money doesn’t bring happiness, but staying in a role that doesn’t pay enough to sustain your lifestyle certainly won’t either. It’s about balance. Making the right career choices means weighing the pros and cons and deciding where your priorities truly lie. For example, you might find a role you love but the employer’s values don’t align with your own.

You certainly shouldn’t make a major career decision based solely on material issues such as salary, but don’t make the mistake of forgetting how these factors will contribute to your future happiness.

4. Your Resume Must Fit One Page and Cover Letters Don’t Matter

Endless myths exist about what makes a good resume, how long it should be, and the importance of cover letters.

Sure, times are changing and your social media presence and LinkedIn profile are important, but that doesn’t mean other elements of the application process have become redundant.

Your resume should be clear, concise, and relevant, but there’s certainly no strict rule that it must be kept to one page. If the information is well-presented and important, your prospective employer will happily read to the second page. The same goes for cover letters. This is an opportunity to sell yourself and your suitability for a particular role — don’t let it go to waste. 

5. Career Gaps Are Bad for Your Career

There are so many reasons why people take career breaks, and none of them spell doom for the future of your career. Whether you were made redundant, embarked on furthering your education, or took a break to travel or raise your family, career breaks are both easy to justify and increasingly common. Be prepared to explain a career gap to a prospective employer, but don’t be concerned that it will thwart your chances of securing the role. 

6. Compromise to Get the Job

When you’re desperate for a job, it’s tempting to make compromises you might later regret, particularly concerning your compensation package. How will you feel six months down the line if you’ve accepted a major pay cut? Will you be struggling to pay your rent and is it worth it for this particular job?

7. Don’t Quit Unless You Have Somewhere Else to Go

If you live paycheck to paycheck, spontaneously quitting your job probably isn’t an option. But, at the same time, you needn’t buy into the idea that leaving one role before having another secured is a terrible thing to do.

When you’re truly unhappy in your current job or just have an instinct that the time is right, walking out the door could be the best thing you ever do. If you’re in the privileged position to be able to take that risk, the pressure of unemployment might just motivate you into finding a much better opportunity.

8. Just Do What I Did (40 Years Ago)

Things change. Job-hunting is vastly different to what it was like in the 1970s. Job-hopping has become normalized, as have redundancies. Although older people may be full of wisdom in other areas, you should always take career advice with a grain of salt.

Image Credit: fizkes /

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