9 Ways Career Advice is Utter Nonsense

Career advice is everywhere. Everyone has an opinion on what it takes to get ahead in business (including me!). People love to share their silver bullets to success.

No doubt you’ve heard something like: If you want that promotion, you need to act like you already have it. Or, one of my least favorite pieces of advice: just make your boss look good.

Then there are literally hundreds of “the best ways” to improve this or that: fake it until you make it, dress for success, or just take up more space. And the words of advice go on and on and on…

But there’s a problem with career advice like this—it’s utter nonsense. Here’s why:


1) It’s piece-meal.

You’re given pieces of career advice from random people. Or maybe a word of advice. Either way, you end up with a scatter chart of suggestions. How do you put the pieces together? Are you missing important parts?


2) It’s too personal.

People give career advice based on what may have worked in their specific situation based on their unique abilities. Will that work for you too? Maybe, but maybe not.


3) It’s too much.

There’s no shortage of career advice out there on how to get ahead at work. If you follow half of what you hear, it will pull you in a hundred different directions at once. More multi-tasking won’t get you promoted.


4) It’s too tactical.

So much career advice is in the weeds, it can leave you unable to see the forest for the trees. You put all this effort into carefully selecting your words so you sound more self-assured, but did it land you the big promotion?


5) It lacks clarity.

Career advice like be more visible or build up your confidence leaves too much up for interpretation. How do you unpack advice like this? You’re left trying to crack the code on corporate speak and will likely miss the mark.


6) It’s not a sure thing.

It may produce the desired result, but it may come to nothing. Who has time to test things out? You need to focus on the areas that matter most—that will result in a promotion.


 7) It may not be real.

It’s one thing to get guidance from someone who’s been there and done that, but often the career advice you read online is coming from someone who never spent a day in a cubicle, let alone climbed many rungs on the corporate ladder.


8) It’s more style than substance.

So much career advice is about making stylistic changes versus developing skills. It can quickly lead you down a rabbit hole of what to wear, how to stand, where to sit, what to say, and how to say it. It’s exhausting, and a waste of time. 


9) It doesn’t feel right.

Sometimes you’re advised to take actions that make you feel uneasy. It causes your inner voice to pipe up and object because following the advice would be inauthentic for you. Stay gold, ponyboy… stay gold.


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Do What Matters Most

It’s no wonder there are so many hard working, overlooked professionals who get passed over for promotions year after year. With so much nonsense being thrown out there, it can leave you feeling dazed and confused. Or, maybe even angry and resentful.

If you’re serious about wanting to get promoted, don’t waste your time following random pieces of advice that may have helped someone else in some arbitrary way.

You need to zero in on the actions that will fast-track your next promotion. Cut through the clutter and do what matters most to finally get yourself promoted.


Fundamental Abilities

Sure, some career advice has the potential to be helpful. But only if it’s considered in the bigger context of building up an ability that is essential to getting promoted. For example:

These are all fundamental areas to develop to finally get promoted.


What Ability Do You Develop?

So stop seeking out career advice. Instead, start with the end game in mind: what ability are you trying to develop? Then consider what actions or behaviors would make the biggest difference for your objective.

It may help to work with a career coach too. Not a career “expert” or consultant who doles out quick fix advice, but a genuine coach who guides you to think things out and have more aha moments on your approach to become more promotable.

Need Help Understanding Which Ability Matters Most for Your Next Promotion? Check Out the Promotion Principles



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