- Facebook/UC Berkeley
When you’re a recent grad, everyone’s got job advice for you.
It’s really important to be able to sort the valuable wisdom from the generic platitudes.
Here are a few well-meaning pearls of wisdom that aren’t all that helpful:
- Joby Elliott/flickr
‘Go back to school’
Go directly to grad school. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Of course, pursuing grad school straightaway is a great option for many recent grads. However, it’s not for everyone. And it’s one expensive delaying tactic if you’re only doing it because you don’t know what you want to do in your life.
“If you are truly passionate about pursuing a career that requires additional education that’s one thing, but staying in school or returning for an advanced degree as a holding pattern or as a default can lead to you racking up a huge amount of debt without necessarily gaining you any long term career advantage and earning potential, and may cause you to forestall many of your bigger life goals,” says Kerr.
‘Just show up at the office and ask for a job’
Are you a recent grad with a dream and some gumption? Are you interested in a particular job? Well then, show up at the office and ask to speak with the boss! They’ll be impressed by your moxie.
Actually, no. They probably won’t. That’s just the stupid advice someone gave you (probably your feisty uncle).
Alison Green reflected on job applicants randomly coming to the office in a 2012 Ask a Manager blog post: “It’s annoying, it’s disrespectful of other people’s time, it displays a lack of understanding of how hiring works (because candidates can’t decide on their own that they’re getting an interview, regardless of the employer’s decision), and it also shows a lack of understanding of how most offices work (because in most industries, people are busy and you make an appointment to talk to someone – with their agreement – rather than just showing up at their office).”
Yeah, unless your career goals include getting escorted out of various workplaces by security, pass on this one.
‘Hide the tattoos’
If you’re a recent grad with tattoos and tattoo-hating relatives, you’ve probably already gotten an earful about how your ink will ruin your entire career. Don’t get psyched out, though.
When it comes to covering up, career coach, founder ofThe Hired Groupand author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad” Ryan Kahn says that it’s probably best to err on the conservative side for job interviews.
“However, in some industries having tattoos could give you an edge if that fits in with their company culture,” Kahn says. “Do your research on the office environment prior to the interview. Ask a friend who works there or call the receptionist and dress appropriately based on what you find out.”
- Flickr / Simon Blackley
‘You need to land job in your industry after graduation’
Kahn says that in the current market, recent grads should be prepared to not land their dream jobs straightaway.
“Use your creativity to find a job in an alternative field that will grow relevant skills and qualifications,” says Kahn. “For example, if you aren’t able to land a job in your desired field of public relations, try looking in journalism, marketing or social media. Learn as much as you can, and when the next public relations position does pop up, you’ll be the most qualified! Wrong turns are OK!”
The road to your goals isn’t always clear or linear. Keep an open mind.
‘Go into teaching’
People with liberal arts degrees get this one a lot. There seems to be this perception that humanities people have one career option: teaching. Don’t give unimaginative advice that boxes people in strictly based on what they studied.
‘You’ve got to get involved in [something that sounds too good to be true]!’
Know someone who seems to always be involved in a get-rich-quick scheme? Are they basically a wacky sitcom character come to life? They’re probably not the best people to ask for job advice straight out of college.
“‘If you’re smart, you’d get your real estate license tomorrow because real estate is going to explode here – it’s the next biggest thing! And if you don’t do that, put all your scant savings into this one company I know – they are going to be huge!’ Any advice that promises a shortcut to wealth or predicts future trends as the ‘next hottest thing’ is to be taken very warily,” Kerr says. “Mountains of research shows that even experts have an incredibly poor record identifying specific economic trends or big winners. And the danger in heeding this advice is that even if it did pay off in the short run – you need to consider what’s best for the long haul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint!”
- Al Bello / Getty Images
‘Give it 100%’
It’s good to give less than 100% every once in a while.
“You’ll rarely hear anyone tell you not to give 100%, but sometimes, that’s exactly what you should do. In today’s modern work environment, most of us are expected to go full-steam ahead, all the time. But that’s not really effective long-term.”
Why? Burnout is real. Kahn recommends throwing in a few “10%” days every month to refresh.
“Slow your pace, and try focusing on just a subset of your work,” Kahn says. “You’ll find that when you cut out all the other noise, you can excel on a smaller set of tasks with a fraction of the effort.”
- Flickr/Kevin Teague
‘Follow your passion’
Your passion doesn’t always come with a great paycheck.
Kerr says telling a fresh grad not to worry about money because everything will take care of itself is bad advice.
“The earlier you can start saving money, taking responsibility for your own finances, and mapping out a sustainable lifestyle that’s affordable, the better off you’ll be,” Kerr says. “Racking up huge mountains of debt is a huge issue for many young people, and one that they will soon regret, so being told ‘the money will take care of itself’ is tantamount to being told that the money fairy will magically land on your doorstep one day, or that the best long term financial plan is to invest in lottery tickets.”
Basically, it’s fine to take risks and find a career you love. But it’s important to be thoughtful about it and have a game plan.
- Getty images/Scott Olson
‘Make sure you get a stable job’
Having a stable job is important. But it’s not everything, especially if you’re settling.
“Of course this advice is well-intended, but it can also be extremely harmful,” says Kerr. “Too often this advice, often from people who have settled themselves, dampens dreams and sends the message that it’s okay to settle for the first thing that comes along. And yes, since you do need to feed yourself, there are times when you may need to take a job until something better comes along. But too often this advice becomes a recipe for getting trapped early on and forgoing your bigger dreams.”
You’ve probably noticed that this is basically the opposite of #8. Balance is key. You can pursue your goals without being an unrealistic dreamer or a depressed settler. You just need to be honest with yourself, consider all of your options, and open to new opportunities.