What To Do If Common Career Advice Isn’t Working For You

notworkingSometimes, what works well for others just doesn’t cut it for you.

Author: Anisa Purbasari
Source: Fast Company

You’re  smart enough to spot bad career advice, but what about when you get good advice that you know works for a lot of people, but doesn’t work for you?

It can be tempting to throw your hands in the air and say “I give up.” But this isn’t your only option. Here are some ideas on what you can do when following common career advice isn’t bringing you much success.


Instead Of: Be Specific About What You Want

Try: Broadening Your Horizons And Looking For Where The Demands Are

We’re often advised to be specific and strategic about what we’re after. While this might be great advice for some, others might find that this approach yields little results for them–particularly when they’re trying to land their first entry-level job.

These days, it’s no longer enough to have a college degree, candidates need to have work experience, whether it be through internships or part-time gigs. But sometimes, even that isn’t enough. Marketing professional and freelance writer Brittney Oliver witnessed this when she embarked on her post-college job search. Despite five internships under her belt, it took her eight months and over 100 interviews before she landed her first job.

As Oliver previously wrote in Fast Company, being a woman of color presented her with additional challenges that her white peers might not have had to face. But considering that the interviewers’ unconscious bias wasn’t something she had much control over, she focused on what she could control. When she started her job search, Oliver had her sights only on PR jobs in New York City. But after struggling to secure a position, she saw her peers turn their degrees into “transferable skills that helped them land jobs outside of their fields.” She began to do the same.

This was also a strategy that Sydney Brunson, a diversity programs specialist at Pinterest, employed. Brunson told Oliver, “had I solely focused on jobs and careers in public relations or communications, my story might be different. I would encourage students to broaden their horizons and scope when searching for jobs.”

Another practical tip could be to look for roles that companies have difficulty filling. Ify Walker, founder of talent matchmaking firm Offor Walker Group, suggested that candidates who are having trouble landing jobs should try to put themselves “in places where others might say, ‘I don’t want to do that, or that’s too hard.’”

Instead Of: Expand Your Network

Try: Figure Out How You Can Help Others In Your Existing Network

It’s true that having a large professional network never hurts, and you never know what opportunities could come out of new interactions. But if, like most people, your time is limited, making yourself attend three to four networking events a week in attempts to “widen your network” might not be the best use of your time.

Chances are, you probably have a few people in your current network that can help you get ahead. Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew, cofounders of career site The Muselisted these types of people in their book, The New Rules Of Work: The Modern Playbook For Navigating Your Career. From those who hold similar positions to you, people related to your industry or role but with different responsibilities, the person one or two levels ahead of you and even the newbie who just started their careers–these are all valuable relationships to cultivate.

Of course, it goes without saying that in order to reap the benefits, you have to be willing to give. For example, you might recommend a candidate to your senior coworker when you hear that they’re hiring. When it comes to those who have a similar job to you, you might share your learnings and lessons and act as each other’s “buddies” when you do attend a big event.



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