The Problem With Career Advice—And What To Do Instead to Get Ahead

When we encounter difficult problems at work (like trying to figure out what it takes to get promoted!), often our tendency is to rely on advice from others—but this may not be the best approach. Read on to learn about the potential pitfalls of following career advice, and what to consider doing instead to advance your career.

Career Advice From Your Boss, Coworkers, Mentors

If you want to get promoted at work, where do you go help?

The first place you’ll likely go is to your boss or coworkers for advice. And this can be a good first step. Afterall, everyone has an opinion on what it takes to get ahead in business. People love to share their silver bullets to success—which typically consists of 2-3 pieces of their best career advice.

But how practical are those tips are to your specific situation can vary. 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. Interesting, but not always applicable.

Getting input from your boss is important but can often be less than helpful, downright confusing, or even feel inauthentic. 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.

Career Advice from Career-Related Websites


The second place you may go to learn how to advance your career is from career-related websites. There are countless experts (genuine and self-proclaimed) out there telling us how to successfully manage our careers.

All the big-name job sites include articles about how to get promoted. Just do a search on “how to get a promotion” and Google will return over 7 million results! But as is the case with everything, some sources are more helpful than others. And a few are downright shoddy.

And much of what’s out there about career advancement only grazes the surface—sharing top tips, simple steps, or best ways to get ahead. Many of the articles seem to be more focused on ranking higher in search engines than sharing valuable insights with the reader. And much of this content is written by someone who never climbed any rungs on the corporate ladder!

Career Advice from Super Successful Businesspeople

The next place you might go to learn how to get promoted is super successful, highly accomplished executives.

You may read books, watch videos, or listen to podcast interviews with the famous, uber-rich CEOs and start-up founders who own yachts and spaceships. You’ll hear fascinating and inspiring stories, but mostly these are just not relatable.

However, there are a few super-achievers in the corporate world who I find more down to earth. Everyday business professionals who rose through the ranks and made it to senior management and executive levels. Real people who figured it out and share how they did it in books and blogs. A few of my favorites that fit this description are Patty Azzarello, Carla Harris and Shellye Archambeau.

Not All Career Advice is Good Advice

So clearly there are many resources out there offering advice on how to get promoted. As is the case with everything, some sources are more helpful than others.

Not all career advice is worth taking. There can certainly be golden nuggets in there somewhere. And following advice from others can lead to professional improvements. But are those improvements the ones that make you more promotable?

It’s important to carefully consider career advice before deciding if it’s worth following. There are 3 attributes to look for when it comes to career-related advice:

  1. Credible. Are you learning from someone who has succeeded—who has been there, done that, and has real-world stories to share?

  1. Relatable. Are you learning from someone who gets you and your situation? Someone who is authentic with shared experiences?

  1. Practical. Are you learning how to take actions to improve you situation—sensible, structured ways to succeed? Are you being advised to develop skills that make you more promotable, or adapt your personal style and become less like yourself?

Don’t waste your time considering advice from someone who doesn’t speak from experience, hasn’t overcome challenges like yours, or can’t make your path forward simpler.

Career Advancement Resources & Tools

If you’re serious about wanting to get promoted, you need to focus on the actions that will fast-track your next promotion. Cut through the clutter and do what matters most to finally get yourself promoted.

Rather than follow pieces of career advice that may or may not have worked for someone else, or listen to so-called experts tell you what to do, the best approach to advance your career is to think for yourself.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *