Stop Listening to These 7 Pieces of Outdated Career Advice

Wisdom comes from experience—that is true. But throughout your career, you’ll need to be wise to the difference between wisdom and advice, as well as develop a sense for when a piece of advice has outlived its prime. To give you a leg up, here’s a list of seven pieces of age-old career advice you can safely ignore.


1. Resume gaps are a resume killer

At one point in time, a resume gap was a surefire way to arouse suspicion and land in the “no” pile. In today’s world—and particularly in the post-pandemic era—that’s no longer the case. Resume gaps are increasingly common. You might have been working in an industry where layoffs were swift and immediate (e.g., hospitality or tourism). Perhaps you needed to stay home for childcare or virtual schooling. A gap is not a sign of professional deficiency.

2. You need to stay at least a year (or two years) at a job

At one point in time, it was considered career poison to leave a position after just a few months on the job. Such a move would brand you as unreliable or difficult, but not anymore. Gen Z and Millennials have forced a paradigm shift with their willingness to quickly leave a position that’s not a good fit or doesn’t offer what they view as sufficient growth potential. The trend is part of a growing recognition that employer and employee both have a voice in what makes a good match.

3. Summer (or the end of the year) is a bad time to look for a job

The prevailing thought was that hiring managers were on vacation or otherwise distracted during the summertime or around the holidays. But while there may not be as many open positions due to busy schedules or budget cycles, there is no such thing as a “bad” time to look for a job. Jobs become open at all times of the year. The right fit for you might be posted on December 15 or July 2.

4. Your resume should only be one page long

Honestly, it really depends on where you are in your career and the position for which you are applying. If you are looking for your first job out of college, a one-page resume is likely sufficient (no one wants to hear about high school). But if you’re a mid-career professional with relevant civic or volunteer experience, then feel free to spill over to two pages to show your stuff.

5. Don’t ask about salary

At one point in time, it was considered gauche or presumptuous to ask about salary, especially early in the hiring process. But in these days of online job hunting, where hundreds of candidates from around the world could potentially be applying, it only makes sense for both sides to confirm alignment early in the process. If a position’s pay range is $20,000 less than you are making now, continuing the conversation would be a waste of time for both you and the hiring manager.

6. Job hunting is a numbers game

The more jobs you apply for, the sooner you’ll land something. Not so fast. These days, job hunting is a true case of quality over quantity. Sending out 50 generic resumes to positions only tangentially related to your experience will be far less effective than applying for five carefully selected positions for which you have tailored your resume to mirror the job posting.

7. You shouldn’t go back to an old job

“You can never go home again,” as the saying goes. Forget that. The boomerang employee trend is proof you can go back to an old job and even thrive. The key to success is approaching the role from a new perspective as both you and your former employer have grown in the process. Hiring managers are frequently drawn to boomerang employees because they already have an idea of cultural fit.

The work world continues to evolve, but one piece of advice will always be true: Proofread your resume. Spelling errors will never be in style.

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