How to Navigate Unsolicited Career Advice

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How to Navigate Unsolicited Career Advice

I meet with a lot of individuals experiencing significant change careers,.   They all convey receiving a whole lot of unsolicited career advice about how to navigate this season of change. From well-meaning family and friends to professional contacts and even complete strangers, everyone knows someone who had a similar experience and therefore, has all the answers about how best to move forward.

So how do you filter through the advice to identify what’s good and what’s not? When do you pay attention and when do you accept that you have to use your own good judgment and find what works for you?

There are a handful of situations you might encounter when it comes to the “advice” of others. Here is what you need to know and consider about each:

  • Is the advice coming from a family member?  It is difficult for your family members to see you going through a touch time.  They want to do anything they can to help relieve the struggle and stress.  They have a tendency to pass along sage advice either they found useful once or they heard from someone they know.  Remember family members love and care about you and they have a preconceived idea of what is best for you which may or may not align with what is actually best for you.  They may have their own vested interested in what is best, leaving them to be not very objective helpers.
  • Is the advice coming from someone who heard something from someone once? While your acquaintance might have the best of intentions, it is unlikely they are remembering a past advice passed along to them in all its detail. Nor does he or she know your situation. The advice is largely hearsay based on assumptions and a bit of fact. Know that despite their best intentions, their advice may be outdated and irrelevant to your situation.
  • Is the advice from someone who was in a similar situation once? This pertains to other people who had gone through a similar career change or transition, once.  Similar does not mean same. When going through something hard, it is human nature to want to relate and offer advice or a solution. There are unique variables to every situation, no matter how similar. And even if it seems that everything is exactly the same, that person is unique as are you and  your path forward. 
  • Is the advice from someone in Human Resources somewhere? While those in human resources  have a better sense of hiring, job opportunities and the job market, these individuals are still limited by their professional experience. Perhaps they have focused on a particular industry or only worked at large organizations. These factors impact their worldview and therefore, the opinions and insights they bring to bear.
  • Is the advice a generally accepted misconception or myth? So often, there are statements or opinions that you accept as truth, with little or no basis of support. You hear them time and time again, without ever questioning the validity of the statement or its universal application. But there is no statement that is true in every situation and no advice that applies universally to all people, situations, industries, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Just like anything else, advice can become outdated. What works at one point in time might change just as the economy, job market and an organization will change over time. The key to navigating unsolicited and even misguide career advice, and truly moving forward is to vet with an objective professional. A career consultant will work to understand your unique situation and the variables that are specific to you, while also bringing their unique experience and skill set to the equation. Taking unsolicited advice, no matter how well-intended, can lead you off track and no one has time for an unnecessary detour.


About the Author:

Cultivating Careers was founded by Karen Kodzik, a Career Consultant who has worked with individuals in transition for over 13 years. Karen meets professionals at various points on their career path and works with them to gain a clearer sense of where they want to take their careers. Karen Kodzik holds a Masters Degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Career Development. Karen couples seasoned counseling skills with a solid business acumen. She has coached and consulted various levels of professionals across industries to successfully reaching that next point in their career.