Thinking about your career can be exhausting. Whether you’re just looking to get a promotion and climb the ladder, or you’re considering a field switch, you’re one of the 70% of employees open to switching jobs, or even if you’re considering that online degree program to help you get ahead, you’re going to hear a lot of career advice. Sometimes it’s tough to sort through the lists of dos and don’ts when it comes to your career. And that’s because some of the advice out there is either outdated or just isn’t very good.
So what career advice should you ignore?
Do what you love.
Like Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This always sounds like great advice. The truth is it’s not really an option for everyone. Either because your passions change every six months, or because you don’t have trust fund required to spend ten years in Hollywood pursuing your dream of becoming a movie star, or because you love stamp collecting and it’s practically impossible to earn a living at it — doing what you love may not actually be an option.
So maybe just think about finding a profession you “like” instead of love. There’s no reason to be miserable, but there’s also no reason to assume that your career is going to be a source of bliss either. Maybe you put in your 50 hours a week at work so you can ski every weekend — then your “ok” career allows you to do the thing you really love.
Salary is everything.
This is sort of the diametric opposite of the “do what you love” advice. Lots of people will tell you to just get out into the workforce and chase the almighty American dollar. Yet again, this is advice you need to seriously temper before you take.
It’s certainly a good idea to choose a career that will allow you to have a lifestyle that’s liveable, but money isn’t everything. If you’re the sort of person who needs to feel like they’re doing good in the world, chances are the career you choose won’t make you a fortune. And that’s really ok. Finding purpose and value in a meaningful career can be its own reward. Give yourself permission to choose a career that works for you, even if it doesn’t give you as much disposable income.
Company loyalty pays off.
This is one of those older pieces of advice that’s still kicking around from the days where people could work forty years for the same company. While those situations may still exist, they’re the very rare exceptions rather than the norm. If you can improve your earnings or career by jumping ship from your current company, you need to do what’s best for you.
Employee loyalty is often undervalued in the current corporate environment. It tends not to matter much when it comes to a bad earnings report or downsizing. When the corporate bottom line is threatened, chances are you’ll just be a number on a spreadsheet. So it’s a good idea to be willing to jump ship when it makes sense for you.