The Worst Career Advice Real People Received

While there are plenty of booksblogs, and podcasts about how to have a great career, but most of us get advice from people in our daily lives. Sometimes this advice is great and sometimes it’s terrible. I asked my readers to share the worst career advice they have received. Follow this advice at your own risk.

  • The squeaky wheel gets the grease – if you really want the job: call, call, call! Call every day, then they’ll know who you are. And now, since I hire, I know that they’ll know who you are so they DON’T hire you. Worst advice.
  • The worst career advice I have ever gotten was to be passive aggressive towards co-workers. Horrible advice, not to mention super unprofessional!
  • “Go along to get along.” If employers really wanted robots working for them, they would use robots. Sometimes, the best interests of both the company and the individual employee require the employee to speak up, to suggest an improvement to a pre-existing process, or even to outright oppose something.

You may recognize this bad advice because it came from you! It was too fabulous to leave in the comments section, so I had to share it!

To read the list, click here: The Worst Career Advice Real People Received

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11 thoughts on “The Worst Career Advice Real People Received

  1. The exceptionally sad commentary is that adults have to be told “this is bad advice.” The concept of common sense has, like Elvis, “left the building.”
    What should be second nature to everyone needs to be explained in detail. It is like to the disclaimers you see on things like antifreeze: “ not drink”. Of course a few times a year you read of an alligator attack on a person who thought the sign “do not swim in pond, live alligators” was only a suggestion for someone else.

    1. People aren’t born knowing everything they need to know in life. As a result, they look to others for advice and guidance. Young people — or those new to a workplace — are especially needful of such advice. And every workplace is different. Some reward innovation, for example; others penalize it, neither of which one would know in advance merely by operation of “common sense” or “second nature.”

  2. Someone I know who works in marketing and used to be a recruiter told me once to lie on my resume. She advised me to change job titles to make them look more prestigious and also to say I had skills I didn’t have. She said I could fake my way into the job and learn it when I got there. “All my friends do it!” she insisted.

    This is the same person who told me once she had to fire a writer who misrepresented herself. Amazingly, she did not spot the contradiction!

    1. Obviously the fired person wasn’t good enough to learn on-the-job and fake-it-till-you-make-it?!

  3. Someone hasn’t worked with many micro-managers in their career. Someone is very fortunate. 🙂

  4. I again must disagree with the “keep your head down” advice. While I am sure that is true in many (probably most) settings there are settings where it is very good advice.

    If you are a staff member and working at a university in an academic department (working for faculty) it is very good advice to keep your head down. Now, I am sure there are exceptions, but for the most part, keep your head down, do your job, and do not make waves. Many faculty do not see staff as peers but was underlines. If that is not the case where you are, consider yourself very lucky.

    Trust me, I am there now.

    1. Edit to clarify:
      “While I am sure that is true in many…”
      should read
      “While I am sure that it is bad advice in many…”

  5. My worst: “Be less polite when dealing with others.” When asked for clarification, “don’t say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.'” Honestly. I ignored this, obviously.

  6. When I first saw the request to send in bad advice, I couldn’t think of any.

    THEN, I read the article and realize that I have probably been told ALL of it at some time or another.


  7. Thanks for the great laugh with all the bad advice list as none of the advise will do anything to develop good work ethics. All of them are potential problems of faking reactions to look like part of the group. The only thing I got from this was to be polite and to know your own weakness.

  8. I’ve got a friend whose dad knows limited English. He’s being asked to sign a form that he doesn’t really understand and it appears to be a disciplinary form. He requested for a translator from HR and they weren’t able to provide one for him. So then he asked if he could get a copy to take home for his children to translate it for him and they refused. They just keep telling him to sign it, what should he do?

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