5 Pieces of Career Advice You Shouldn’t Listen To

Job hunting and career building are hard enough on their own—even without the well-meaning but sometimes ill-informed advice of others. Some words of wisdom are actually counterproductive and set you up for burnout or job dissatisfaction; other advice is simply outmoded in today's workplace. Without further ado, here are five pieces of career advice you can ignore as you navigate your career.

Career Advice You Shouldn’t Listen To

1. You Need to Stay At a Job for At Least Two Years

Life would be easier if this time-honored advice were actually true. Few career situations are more agonizing than wondering whether it's too soon to leave a job that's not the right fit, or whether you should leave a good-enough job for a potentially great opportunity. A hard-and-fast rule would be so convenient! Alas, such a rule does not exist. You've got to judge for yourself what feels right. Don't feel tethered to your resume—plenty of people have left jobs after a few weeks or months and lived to tell the tale. The days of staying at one company for 30 or 40 years until you were eligible for a pension belong to a different generation.

What's more important than when you leave a job is how you leave a job. While job hunting, be prepared to explain in a positive, forward-looking manner your reason for looking for another position—and work hard to leave your current job on a positive, professional note.

2. Your Perfect Job is Out There

Sorry. It's not. Time for some real talk: No job is perfect. Every position—even if it's at your "dream" company doing your "dream" job—has downsides: a bad commute, a gum-smacking cubicle neighbor, pointless paperwork, skimpy vacation policy, etc. Instead of getting distracted by irritations, stay focused on the bigger picture. At the end of the day, do you feel like you've accomplished something? Do you enjoy your work more often than not? Are you growing as a professional? And are you able to support yourself and any dependents comfortably? If you can say yes to all of those questions, you're doing well.

3. Never Cry At the Office

Crying at the office is a minefield—and there are some old-school professionals who still think it's the kiss of death career-wise. Again, though, the "rules" aren't as clear in the modern workplace. What's more important than never crying at the office is showing you’re in control of your emotions. Frequent crying is an issue, but if you happen to tear up during conflict or in a moment of disappointment, don't start worrying about it. Find a way to excuse yourself so you can settle down, then return to the situation calmly and rationally. Learn and practice some basic mindfulness techniques so you can focus on your breath and detach during emotional moments.

4. Take the Job With the Highest Salary

If only choosing between competing offers were that easy! Salary is an important consideration, but it's not the be-all, end-all. If the other position seems like it would be more fulfilling (see above), and you can swing the salary financially, take the risk. Listen to your gut, and know that it's not always about the money.

5. You Need a Creative Way to Stand Out as a Job Applicant

This is one of those pieces of advice some college career counselors like to give—but when you're the hiring manager (and you will be someday), wacky attention-getting schemes just take up too much precious time. Better to stand out because of your solid experience or error-free resume. If you haven't been asked to provide a portfolio of work, don't show up unannounced with a leather-bound volume of work samples.

Similarly, be professional but reserved when following up after an interview. A prompt thank-you note is appreciated; cookies or flowers indicate desperation.

If you haven't figured it out by now, the only certain piece of career advice is that one-size-fits-all rules don't exist in the workplace. Work hard, trust your gut, and watch your career grow.

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