No matter what industry you’re in, or looking to get into, you’ve probably heard these gems from well-meaning friends or family. But don’t take any notice of them. Because despite good intentions, people dishing out career advice don’t always get it right.
Don’t work for free
This is a classic catch-22: employers won’t hire you without experience, but how can you get some experience under your belt if no one will hire you?
Sometimes working for free is the best way to get a foot in the door in a competitive job market.
Things like interning, volunteering, or managing a club or society at uni all show potential employers that you’re not afraid of commitment and responsibility, and that you’re proactive about making things happen.
Doing a great job on the free stuff will build up your resume and improve your chances of getting a real job when paid work comes around.
Let your work speak for itself
In a perfect world getting recognised would be a simple matter of putting your head down, busting out great work and waiting for the accolades to roll in.
Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way.
Politics, emotions and commercial objectives can all influence who gets ahead in the workplace, and if you want to be successful it’s important to market yourself well.
This can be as simple as making sure management know what you’ve achieved, seeking out feedback proactively and communicating what you bring to the company.
And don’t be afraid to ask for a pay rise if you think it’s justified. It’s not in an employer’s interests to shower their employees in pay rises out of the blue, and those who ask are more likely to receive.
Don’t rock the boat
People who say this are really encouraging you not to stray from your comfort zone and offer real opinions; things that should actually be encouraged.
For example, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask questions of the company, role and management in job interviews. And just because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done things around here’ doesn’t mean there aren’t better, more innovative ways to get a result.
That’s not to say screw the system and that it’s OK to turn up to your corporate job in jeans and pink hair. But if you’re afraid to be yourself at work, eventually you’ll get found out.
Always take the safe option
Your parents are pushing you towards a law career, but let’s say your real passion is starting a business walking dogs (or creating apps, being an art teacher, or whatever it happens to be).
Law might be the safe option, where there’s a steady income, career path and employment prospects. And the path less trodden might be a risk. But taking that risk can offer greater career satisfaction, perks, responsibility and flexibility.
Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling and Richard Branson didn’t take the safe option.
It’s just a job
Maybe your friends and family are frustrated with how long your job search is taking, maybe they think you’re fussy or don’t understand that meaningful work is more than just a weekly pay cheque.
But remember you’ll be spending more time with colleagues than them during the week, and your job will play a big part in defining your path in life. Taking the first role you’re offered just because it’s there means you’re more likely to be unhappy and less likely to stay there.
This doesn’t mean waiting for your dream role to be offered to you on a plate, but just like weighing up long-term romance options, career options need to be carefully considered without lowering your standards.