Bad Career Advice

bad advice examples

What makes career advice bad?

I tend to think of bad advice as any recommendation given by someone that results in a negative result for the person following said recommendation. This is not to say that what I consider bad advice will be bad for you but there are some pieces of advice that universally suck. Here they are!

Show up early and stay late at work

This is a recipe for burnout and I wish people would stop following it. Seldom does it ever lead to a promotion or pay raise. Rather, this normally results in you neglecting your family and mental well-being. It's terrible advice, please ignore this at all costs.

Also, staying late constantly is likely a sign of operational inefficiency at the organization.

Don't take it personally

The people who make statements like these are either abusing you are excusing the abuse you have endured. How can people not take insults hurled at them personally? There is nothing wrong with feeling or displaying emotion.

We are all human and capable of a wide array of emotions. This doesn't stop just because you clocked in. Also, failing to take things personally may rob you of the motivation needed to make a positive change.

Imagine if Malcolm X or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. never took anything personally. I might not have been able to write this article and enjoy the freedoms I have today.

Employees, treat the company like it belongs to you

It took me a while to realize that this was awful advice. It's okay to work hard, be respectful, and show up on time for work. But, to act as if the company belongs to you is bad advice for the employee. Why? Simply because it does not belong to you.

As business owners, we love what we have created and reap the lion's share of the profits. I dream of turning my business over to my kids if they want to run it when I retire. Employees, however, can never do this, nor do they bring in a fraction of the money that business owners do.

As such, they should not care nearly as much as business owners do.

Be open and honest with the employer

While being open and honest is generally a good idea. People who generally follow this advice tend to overshare. I was a manager at a company and had an employee come to me and let me know she was actively job hunting.

This is really not information you want to share with people who can fire you. You also want to refrain from divulging deeply personal information to supervisors, colleagues, and owners. People gossip a lot at work, partially due to the nature of humans in general. You don't want your personal family drama to be the talk of the lunch room.

You need to manage up

I've always considered this advice a bit strange and have never heard a convincing argument in favor of it. I have a general rule of thumb about management, never manage anyone who makes more money than you. This advice is generally given to lower compensated employees and I have yet to meet anyone who said that "managing up" helped them get a raise or promotion.

Eat, sleep and breathe the job

Similar to "showing up early and staying late", this advice leads to burnout. Being obsessed with anything other than your family, health, or happiness is generally a bad idea. It also diminishes your creativity as your brain is seldom allowed to rest.

I'm only hard on you because I know you are capable of X

There is no excuse for a person being cruel to you at work. It's completely unnecessary and does the exact opposite of motivating. Companies that behave like this often state that the employees are "family", which is another red flag of a potentially toxic environment.

If someone is being cruel to you, don't thank them for the motivation, stand up for yourself and find another job as soon as you can.

HR is an employee's advocate, trust them

Don't implicitly trust anyone because of their title at work. I've seen HR managers gossip about salaries, personal employee issues, and a number of other things. Also, remember that the ultimate goal of the HR department is to protect the employer from lawsuits, bad press, etc not the employee from pain and suffering. Of course, individual HR professionals' motivations may be pure but make no mistake, HR exists to protect the business.

Matt Irving is the CEO of Super Easy Tech, LLC.
Matt is the CEO of Super Easy Tech and creator of Super Easy CRM. He is a passionate software engineer, tech blogger, and gamer. Feel free to connect on any of the platforms listed below.

Posted by: Matt Irving on 8/01/2022