Outdated career advice that is no longer relevant

Rudolfs Millins 7.11.2022
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A person on career crossrodads

As far as career advice is concerned, you will find no shortage of tips. Everyone loves to give career advice because it implies they are competent enough to do so. 

However, you will notice that it’s usually the same tips that are being recycled repeatedly. And although some of them (“work hard”) are likely to stay relevant for as long as humans don’t go extinct, some of these tips might have overstayed their welcome. 

Today’s work environment is radically different from what it was even a mere five years ago, thanks to Covid. Being old-fashioned has its charms, but it probably won’t do you any favors in today’s job market.

To help you, we have collated a list of career advice tips that most likely no longer hold true. Here they are.

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Sticking with the same career or company

Back in the day, it wasn’t unusual to work for the same company for many years or even your whole life. We see this less often these days, even in Japan, which used to be famous for its employee loyalty. And there is a good reason why this trend is changing – by looking for better opportunities, you can potentially climb the career ladder, increase your pay and benefits, and gain new experience.

Job hopping is becoming more prevalent and nowadays has fewer negative connotations. This shift can be explained by the change in employment conditions. Back in the day, companies used to reward loyalty with tangible progression and increased pay. That’s no longer the case – these days the corporate culture is less reciprocating. Employees are well-aware of where the wind blows and act accordingly. 

The same goes for staying on the same career path. The classic advice used to be – find your profession as soon as possible and stick with it. That hardly seems like an iron law these days. There are a plethora of reasons why you might want to change your career path. Maybe you picked the wrong one in the first place – acquired a university degree and realized that is not something you want to do for the rest of your life after all. Perhaps you have a sudden realization about your real strengths and interests. 

Don’t fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy – the fact that you have already invested in a particular education or skill set shouldn’t hold you hostage. Sticking with the same career as a matter of principle is a terrible piece of career advice.

Not bringing your true personality to work

a man being authentic at work

The recent television hit Severance presents an extreme science-fiction scenario – employees are forced to undergo a medical procedure that completely separates their work memories from their outside personalities. As a result, these employees effectively live through two different personalities that don’t communicate with each other. 

Unfortunately, some real-life employees feel like they have to undergo a mild form of severance – outdated advice dictates that employees should leave their emotions, personal issues, and beliefs at home. In short, they should be consummate professionals at all times. That can be a very exhausting exercise, especially if your workplace persona is radically different from who you really are.

As workplaces are becoming more inclusive, this stiff-lipped attitude is losing appeal. The modern employer is more tolerant and willing to accept diverse personalities. A lot of employers have realized that a healthy mix of different temperaments and worldviews leads to more vibrant and creative workplaces.

If you feel like your job stifles your personality, that might be a sign it’s not for you. In the long term, it will probably sap your enthusiasm. And these days, you have a better chance of finding a job that tolerates your authentic self. Thus, the old career advice of not bringing your true personality to work has lost its grip.

two people talking about career

Pursuing a university degree

Going to a university is sometimes presented as a no-brainer – allegedly, universities can provide superior training, networking opportunities, and subsequently offer better job opportunities after graduation.

University education is a substantial investment – you will spend a few years chasing your degree, and there is a good chance you will be paying for that privilege, too. Considering alternative paths to kick-start your career is not a bad idea if you want to be debt-free and don’t feel like academic education is your thing.

Keep in mind that a university degree doesn’t guarantee a job in the respective field. Companies, especially in the tech sector, are often looking for raw skills and talent rather than formal education. A recent graduate might have less to bring to the table compared to a person of the same age with more real-life experience. Thus, we can question if paying for a university degree always provides a good return on investment.

Long gone are the days when universities were repositories of exclusive knowledge. If you wish so, you can learn valuable skills on your own, finding all the necessary learning materials online.

Skipping university will allow you to join the workforce earlier – and the potential job experience may outweigh the benefits of a degree. Don’t interpret this career advice as an anti-intellectual message – universities deserve a lot of respect for their research, and there are many graduates fond of their student days. But you shouldn’t assume that going to a university is mandatory for a successful career. 

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Following your passion

A piece of simple and well-meant advice: follow your passion, do what you love, and you will find success. However, if we start to dig deeper, this advice may turn out to be a bit naive and confusing.

People are rarely one-dimensional and may have various different interests. If you are following one specific “passion”, you are effectively putting all your eggs in one basket and perhaps neglecting other skills and aspects of your personality. Plus, passions can change with time – committing to one specific thing may lock you into something you may be less enthusiastic about in the future.

The passion advice also assumes that success will follow naturally just because you have a specific passion. Being passionate about something doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful career. Some passions can be exciting but hardly practical when it comes to career opportunities. Unfortunately, a deep appreciation of Hong Kong’s New Wave Cinema offers paltry career prospects. 

Having a passion doesn’t guarantee that one is good at it. Consider various TV talent shows where people enthusiastically display their singing, dancing, and cooking skills. How many of the participants are genuinely good and find success? Very few. 

It’s also worth keeping in mind that turning a passion into a job might make it less enticing – a daily routine could disenchant it, or worse, what if it leads to losing that passion altogether? Don’t get the wrong idea – the choice of a career shouldn’t be a dispassionate and cold affair. The point is – take the career advice of following your passion with a grain of salt. Don’t neglect other considerations, such as your actual skills and realistic career prospects.

Final remarks – it’s your personal journey

a man extending an invitation

When you hear career advice, it will almost always reflect that person’s personal and singular experience. If they followed certain principles and it worked out – great, but that doesn’t make it a universal gospel. You can read countless articles about career advice and still feel like you are not better off. 

Why?

A career, much like life, is a personal journey. It’s not a box-ticking exercise where you are guaranteed success upon fulfilling certain conditions. Undoubtedly, some readers will have found success by following the outdated tips argued against in this article. And that is fine – the point is, you must determine whether the solicited advice is for you – does it align with your outlook on life, your ambitions and strengths. Treat career advice as guidelines rather than rules.

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