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The five worst pieces of career advice given to students

university student
Before going out into the world, college students are given career advice by their teachers, parents, peers, and even their school career centers.

When it is time to find a job, these pieces of advice will run through your head and you will not know which exact step to take because you have no idea whether the advice you received is right or not.


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Where should you get the best piece of advice for your career?

Although advice from the people mentioned above can prove to be helpful, you have to check whether it is based on your best interest. What if the advice they gave is suited for their own careers? What if your parents’ advice was based on what they want you to be? What if your career center is not equipped to give updated advice on the current job market?

  • Find a mentor.

The mentor you need is one that is already working in the position that you are aiming for. You can connect with these people on LinkedIn. Many people from various fields of work are more open to converse on LinkedIn because it is meant to be a space to connect with people who they can learn from and teach at the same time.

Once you find a suitable list of mentors, send them a polite letter inquiring about what advice they can give you when you finally look for work. Sooner or later, one or two may reply – or even all of them.

  • Cross reference their advice with credible sources.

If you cannot connect with a mentor, find a site that can answer your questions. Make sure that it cites its sources and that it has credible reviews when it comes to its articles. Look through the comments and see if the people who are replying are real ones and that actually used the career advice and succeeded.

  • Research the companies you are applying for and network to get in with their workforce crowd.

This may be the most proactive thing you can do in terms of your chosen career path. It has worked for many people and will continue to do so because it requires human interaction, a chance to practice your communication skills and your ability to build a professional relationship with someone outside of work.

In order to get in touch with someone from the company, you want to apply for, attend one of their public events. If not go, to the company’s regular watering hole. Once you are there, approach the people who work for the company you’re aiming for, get a conversation going, and don’t be shy when asking about what career advice they can give you to get into their company.

Worst career advice for students

Now that you know where to get the best career advice, the next best step is to find out what not to do for your career. Here is a list of the worst career advice for students:

  • Printed resumes are useless.

Because of the digital age, most people assume that PDF resumes are all they need to survive. Some people even bring their iPads or expect the employer to look at their file through a computer during an interview. Do not think like that. Employers want to look at your printed resume during your interview because it is the fastest way to look at your skills and note down their observations.

  • Apply to every available opening.

Applying for every available job may get you at least one interview, but it does not mean that it is the interview you truly want. Make sure that you research all your prospects and choose the ones that are the best fit for you. Not every employer is a good fit, which means that you need to know if you can mesh in their environment. That way, you don’t end up wasting anybody’s time.

  • Only apply to a job under your field of study.

If you do not want to work as a doctor, don’t work as a doctor. If you have the skills necessary to get a job in a different industry, go for it. Fashion designers can decide to be journalists and vice versa. The options are endless, as long as you are really invested in the career path you choose.

  • Do not talk/ask about your salary because it’s not polite.

The biggest mistake interviewees make is taking the job before hearing what the salary is. Although employers advertise high salaries on their job openings, they do not usually reveal the real salary system until they take you in. By then, it will be too late and you will be stuck in a very awkward situation.

  • Agree to an unpaid job trial.

This is only advisable for online jobs within secure escrowed job portals. When it comes to the real world, working for nothing on a trial basis is basically a scam that many companies concoct in order to get free grunt work. Twenty of you come in and only one gets the job. Make sure that the job offers an allowance that is as high as the minimum wage.

Better Career Advice for Students

Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to discover the best thing to do when it comes to your career after college.

  • Build a proper resume that contains any and all skills and talents you have; not just the ones for the job you are applying for.

Don’t make separate resumes for different jobs. Put all of your skills and work experience in one resume because you never know if those unconventional skills will land you the job you need. Make sure it’s visible on the first page because this page is what they will be looking at immediately. There are people who got hired in the medical field because they are good writers. That can happen to you too. Employers want to know you can offer them something different, not what everyone else can.

  • Do not optimize your resume for SEO.

Employers only look for high-level applicants using their own programs. Just because your resume is optimized does not mean that they will call you. What you need to do is create a resume that looks good and reads well as well. Forget SEO. Focus on yourself.

  • Apply for a job you want to do; not one that you will not work hard at.

It does not matter what industry you plan on working at. It does not matter what your motivations are as well. What matters is that you are willing to do the work, even if it is not the dream you had when you were a child.

  • Do not force yourself to get promoted if you change your mind mid-career.

Things change in the middle of everyone’s career. Some push through, while others don’t. Just because someone gave you advice to never stop working for the top spot, it does not mean that you should. It’s possible that you may find another better option or even a career change.

  • Go into the interview room assuming that you are the candidate they will choose.

We’re not telling you to act like you own the place already. What we mean is that you should mimic the company attitude when you come in. This way, your interviewers will immediately feel that your presence is a welcome addition to the company.

Finding a job after college is not easy, but once you get the advice you need, you will get the career that you always wanted. Just make sure to disregard useless advice and use the ones that work best for you.

About author:

Eliza Medley is an experienced tutor, educator, and writer on this page. She is fond of blogging and writing about marketing, college life, tips for graduates etc. Do you have any questions? Ask @Eliza_Medley about anything on her personal Twitter page.

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