There are thousands of articles on the internet that advise job-seekers on the best tips and practices on every aspect of employment, but how many of them actually list the career tips that are bad ideas?
Do Not Negotiate
If you were to walk into a dealership and look at a car, would you pay the sticker price down to the very last penny? Or would you take some time to sit down with the representative and negotiate the price down a few thousand dollars? Following this career tip when it comes to salary and raises is a surefire recipe for stagnation, so always have a counter-offer in place and be prepared to meet in the middle.
Stay in Your Comfort Zone
It’s tempting to stay in a place that’s easy and comfortable, as it means never making mistakes or failing publicly—a really nice thing to experience. But constantly staying in your comfort zone and never venturing out to take risks also means there are fewer chances for growth and (big) successes. Stuck in a data entry job but always dreamed of fighting forest fires? Don’t be afraid to make the leap, for it just might be the best decision you ever made.
Stick with One Career
Sounds nice, doesn’t it: send out dozens of applications and have one win the lottery for you where you find a company to start and retire with. Athletes like Steve Yzerman, John Stockton and Cal Ripken, Jr. have all said how nice it was to retire with the team that drafted them, but the same doesn’t go with most careers. Loyalty and specialization are great qualities to have, but they’re also really limiting in today’s economy, which values growth, variety of many skills more.
Don’t Accept Menial Pay or Tasks
Anytime you start at a new job, you have to build the trust of your superiors and that’s done by doing the small—sometimes garbage—work efficiently and with integrity, and for perhaps a little less pay you like. Thumb your nose at that, and all you’re saying with your actions is, “I don’t care enough about this job to prove to you I’m capable of handling more responsibility.” Nobody wants to work with someone who thinks they’re too good to change the garbage or clean a toilet, so roll up your sleeves and be prepared to get your metaphorical hands dirty.
Put in the Time
Career experts advise staying at a job for at least a year so as to keep your resume looking good and getting the chance to gain valuable experience and networking contacts. But if your job causes you to cry every day or contributes to stress-related health problems, it may be time to throw this handy little tidbit out the window and in the path of oncoming traffic.
Follow Your Passion
Once you’ve found that magical thing in life that makes you feel alive and sparkling, it’s time to turn it into a career, right?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a career that fulfills you on every level, but many people confuse qualities like autonomy, competence and feeling needed with their passions. Instead, focus on finding a job that ticks off a couple items on your checklist (e.g. general field of interest, short commute, size of company, future growth opportunities) and work on making yourself valuable to the job instead of the other way around. To paraphrase Kennedy, “ask not what your job can do for you, but what you can do for your job.”