Worst Career Advice Ever?

A couple of months ago Peter asked a question to his LinkedIn contacts: What is the worst career advice you’ve ever heard? Here are most of the awesome replies (there were 42 responses – see them all here):

  • You’re set for life! (… when someone has just taken a job in the public service. Set – yeah, like a jelly is set!)
  • get a degree in accounting
  • “So, you want to be a lawyer?!! Get a real job first! Work in a factory for some years, to see the real life!” I didn’t follow the advice…
  • “You have a good job at a utility: stay there.”  Safety equals dullness. (there’s more)
  • The worst career advice is not to have any when you are first starting out, especially with the graduation door slamming shut on your rear -end on the way out!
  • 1976, upper midwest, town of 7,000, 10th grade – you guys don’t need to learn to type…typing is for girls.  How’s that worked out for you guys?
  • “Listen, I know you have a staff job but I think you should take that really great, totally secure freelance position!”
  • “Seek advice from random strangers on the Internet.”  (lol – thanks Alex)
  • In a counselling setting: Don’t worry if people don’t come back, they just didn’t like what you said to them. (of course I worried about why they didn’t come back.)
  • In a government job: Don’t leave, there’s a lot of job security. (I left)
  • In private practice: You don’t have enough experience to do that. (I have it now!)
  • You have to not work so many hours. (But I love my job and am enjoying myself so much)
  • “Your neurosis problems are making you fail in your job…”
  • 26 years later, I still try to find out if I have neurosis problems and I have found nothing…
  • “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Yes, it is a question, but it implies that you should have a 5-year plan, Total BS this day and age.
  • Always say you have extensive experience doing X when someone asks you if you’ve done X before.
  • “You’re a Rhodes Scholar! You’re all set! What could go wrong?”
  • You deserve better, they are just exploiting you. If you resign, we will immediately take you… Needless to say that words vanish like smoke….
  • ” When you are a “fresher,” better stick to your company atleast for one year”
  • To volunteer for low level tasks as an intership or job starter.
  • “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Management will notice.” I was thinking ‘yeah I want to be known for my clothing and not my experience or education.’
  • “Plastics.” (Anyone remember THE GRADUATE with Dustin Hoffman?)
  • [my current job is] a total wrong fit and whenever I talk to people and ask for some advice the line I get is “at least you have a paycheck.” And I think to myself, great, what do I do with this?
  • don’t push to have a managerial post, just settle to become a secretary a top noch one, though…..
  • I approached [a speaker] and asked how I could move into that career (I was already a trainer for a company). his response…”Just do it guy.”
  • “don’t take risks by thinking outside of the box so much”
  • “In order to become a Genetic Engineer, you have to study Civil Engineering!”
  • “You’ll be limited if you don’t have a degree”
  • “You have to wait for your turn and grow your wings before you can be considered for leadership positions. It’s the same with other companies.”
  • “Closing three small deals is better than going for that big ambitious project.”
  • You have so much potential – hold out for 2 more years and you will go places!
  • “around here, you are nothing more than a strong back; get about a good 8 years of experience in the lab, and then you can break into the 60k salary tier!”
  • Stay at a job your unhappy with – you have too much tribal knowledge.
  • I arrived for what a thought was a job interview and turned out to be a head hunting firm. Looked at my resume calculated I had been in the work force over 25 years and said you have one good job left in you.
  • “Hey go check out Enron, they’re looking for talented auditors”
  • “You are too smart to be a business major! You should do engineering.”
  • “You have a special calling to do this.” I gave working in the church a try before becoming a recruiter.
  • My Father: “No Daughter of mine is going into this business!!”
  • “The IT job market is HOT!”… Uh… no… IT workers have about a 13% unemployment rate, and over the next few years I expect 1/3 to 1/2 more Americans in IT to permanently lose their jobs. Every day I ask myself… Why, oh why, did I not become a Dentist? Now there is a stable career.
  • “Do ANYTHING you can to get into __________ firm.”
  • “Girls can’t be engineers – only teachers or nurses.” – Midwest, late 1960s. HA!
  • “A Bachelors is all you need”

What’s the worst career advice YOU’VE ever heard?


  1. keller90m on April 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Worst career advise came from my dad in the late 80’s (he graduated from HS in 1950) “You must take short-hand, how else will you become a secretary”- I had no ambition to be a secretary, I wanted project management- Engineering to be specific but this is what he thought were a woman’s only career option- does anyone even know short-hand?

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