Career advice you can ignore

Old-fashioned rules may have a negative impact on a promising career.
Career advice you can ignore

Technology has contributed to a new work environment and dictated the way workers plan and manage their careers.

Old-fashioned advice and success strategies may no longer be helpful and, in fact, could hold you back if you cling to the outdated, according to Oliver Holloway, an executive coach with SEVEN Career Coaching in London.

Holloway and other career experts outline ways the career advice of old has changed to conform with the modern workplace.

Stay in a job for life and retire with a pension. Holloway, who started his career as a chartered accountant, had planned to hang on until retirement when he would be able to explore his passions. “I was 35 at the time, meaning that would have been a long wait,” he said. He created a career map that led him to become a career transition coach, a job he loves. “If you have a dream career you want to explore, you can do it safely and strategically, but don’t wait. Start looking into it now,” he advised.

Job-hopping is a bad thing. Today, people want a more varied career, according to Hannah Salton, a career coach and consultant in London. In the modern professional environment, longevity in a job is not necessarily an asset. Maybe you have had one job for ten years and think you have had enough progression and want to move on, or you have had three jobs in a year because you worked at startups that failed. “Neither scenario is a deal breaker. It is most important that you are able to articulate in a clear, sensible way the reasons behind your career path,” she said.

Redundancy layoffs are a career killer. Many of Holloway’s clients who have gone through a redundancy believe that is the worst thing that has ever happened to them, he said. He encourages his clients to consider a layoff as an opportunity, especially if it comes with a severance package. “A redundancy gives you time to review your life and career and then deliberately move into the direction or position you want to go,” he said.

It’s all about your degree. There was a time when ambitious professionals sought a four-year degree from a prestigious university or even a post-graduate degree, but the work environment is changing and there are now alternate paths, according to Vicki Salemi, a career expert in New York City.

Today, professionals can augment or create their own educational experiences to build a satisfying career. “Taking online courses, earning an associate degree or pursuing special certifications (such as FCMA/ACMA or CGMA) can land you a professional job,” Salemi said.

All it takes is a great CV. As you build your career, Salton cautions against relying on your CV to do all the work. In the past, there were strict, black-and-white rules around writing a professional CV, but she said those rules have given way to a more nuanced approach. “The myth that a good CV will open doors for you is outdated because it’s not enough anymore,” she said. She added that it is more important to do the work around your CV by applying for positions that are a good fit with your skills and building relationships with those who can help you along your career path.

Moonlighting is a job-killer. Office policies of the past forbid workers to have second jobs, but in today’s startup economy, building a side hustle carries far less stigma, according to Holloway. He advocates setting up a business and exploring a new career. “If you decide to create a startup, you don’t have to give up your day job,” he said. Be focused and deliberate, he advised, and your startup can lead to an exciting change.

You can’t have gaps in your career. In the modern work environment, gaps in your career are not necessarily problematic, according to Salemi. Gaps can happen for a variety of reasons, such as going back to school for skills training, taking extended time off to care for an ailing family member, or getting involved in a personal project. “If your career and résumé contains a six-month gap, be ready to explain what happened, and what you did during that time, then pivot to what you are doing now, such as preparing for your next career move,” she said.

Marry your job. There was a time when employees were expected to put their jobs first, but today the lines between work and personal life are blurred and it’s no longer necessary to hide your personal life from prospective employers. When you are seeking new career opportunities in the modern work world, it is important to reveal the awesome individual you are, according to Holloway. “These days it is favorable to have a balanced life because it increases your efficiency and productivity on the job,” he said. Describing the incredible things you do outside of work adds a personal touch to your interview and demonstrates that you are someone who would be excellent on the job and fun to work with as well.

Teri Saylor is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at