Getting advice on your career is generally a good thing. Those who have been in the company or in the industry longer than you have wisdom to share that can benefit you and improve your learning curve substantially.

That said, keep in mind that the advice you receive--especially the suggestions that come unsolicited--isn't always good. Terrible advice can derail your career if you're not careful, so watch out for--and ignore--the following 13 pieces of bad professional advice that could ruin your career:

1. "Take a job for now, even if you don't want it." 

This advice is a recipe for being unhappy for a long time. Either you'll wind up sticking with a job you hate (and do poorly), or you'll end up changing jobs a short while later and be labeled a "job-hopper." Neither you nor your employer wins in this scenario.

2. "Take a job in something you're good at." 

While being good at something is certainly one criterion for taking a job, it's not the only one you should consider. You can be great at something and hate doing it, or find no purpose in it at all. Look instead for a place where your passions and your skills intersect.

3. "Take the job with the highest pay." 

Money truly doesn't buy happiness, and it may indicate a job with high risks or poor work-life balance. A consultant's salary might seem high, for example, but will you really enjoy your extra income if you wind up stuck on business trips for weeks at a time? Remember, no one benefits if you're in a job you dislike or don't fit into.

4. "When in Rome..." or "Don't rock the boat."

Advice telling you to do your best to just fit in is discouraging, but even more than that, it quashes your ambition and creativity. Companies often reward outside-the-box thinkers and those who come up with more effective ways to work. Don't miss your opportunity to get recognized and rewarded!

5. "Stay where you're comfortable."

Being comfortable in a job is not a sign that it's the right fit for you. You can be completely comfortable and still wind up bored out of your mind. Instead, find a place where your skills are challenged and your creativity is welcomed. Being challenged may not always be the most comfortable thing, but it's one of the most rewarding.

6. "Don't overestimate yourself."

Very few people overestimate their skills--most have the opposite problem. So ignore this advice and step out on a new project or new opportunity that rewards the skills you've spent your career honing.

7. "If you work long enough for low wages, you'll be promoted."

Promotion isn't guaranteed anymore, and it certainly doesn't come to those who toil away without notice. Think about it from your manager's perspective. If you had an employee who quietly did his job without complaint (or without a request for more), would you go out of your way to promote him or her?

If you want a promotion or more responsibility, you have to step up and take it. Track your results, try new things, and use the data you've gathered to ask for a raise when you can.

8. "Pretend you didn't see that."

Ignoring unethical or indiscreet actions isn't a way to succeed long-term in business. Maintaining high ethical integrity and reporting illegal actions may not win you favor in a specific company, but it will go a long way toward protecting your future career.

9. "Never say no."

It's important to be helpful around the office, but if you overload yourself, you'll burn out and fail to perform well. And that's much, much worse than simply saying no in the first place. Instead, say yes carefully, and gently say no to anything that's too much.

10. "Don't leave before the boss does!"

Long hours used to be a symbol of success, but now they're often a sign of inefficiency. Don't worry about leaving before the boss--your results should be what speak for you.

11. "Take the salary they offer you."

Many professionals don't realize this, but you can negotiate your salary. Most companies have a range that they're willing to pay, and most expect you to negotiate with them to some degree. Don't be too demanding, but don't be afraid to make a counteroffer. Doing so can often earn you higher pay.

12. "You can have it all."

It's nice to think you can have it all--a high salary, low hours, a great family, a big house, and more--but life involves compromise. By knowing your core values, you'll be able to make choices about the tradeoffs you're comfortable making in order to avoid damaging your career.

13. "If you follow your passion, the money will find you." 

Don't get me wrong--this isn't bad advice in all situations. While some people are able to be successful by following their passion, many more are not. Being passionate alone is not enough to bring success--you must meet real needs and solve real problems.

If your passion and the skills people will pay for happen to align for you, that's great. If they don't, remember that you can always indulge in your passions through the hobbies you enjoy outside of work.

People are often eager to give advice--especially about careers--but not all of the advice you receive is good advice. By ignoring these 13 pieces of bad professional advice, you'll set yourself up for having a better chance at career success. What's more, you'll be happier, more realistic about your situation, and better prepared for opportunity when it strikes.

What's the worst professional advice you've received? Share it below in the comments!

Published on: Jun 23, 2015
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