How to Identify Bad Career Advice — So You Can Ignore It

Feb 20, 2014 - Joe Matar

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, want get promoted at work or need tips on how to deal with difficult coworkers, it’s likely you’ve taken your search for answers to Google.

There’s just one problem with the wonderful world of career advice. Just about anyone can claim to be a career advice guru, start their own blog and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with your career.

So how do you separate the golden nuggets of wisdom from the lousy career advice? A few handy questions can help you sort through this sea of information and identify what’s really worthwhile.

1. Does the advice make sense?

Very little advice out there is fresh and new. Most of what these gurus say is simply repackaged from other gurus. And things can get lost in the process of repackaging.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading a column written by a New York Times bestselling author or a blog you randomly stumbled across via the rabbit hole that is the Internet. Just stop and think: Does what they’re saying make any sense?

If you’re confused or befuddled by the advice they offer and struggle to understand how it applies to real life, take a pass and move on.

2. Is the information current?

The Internet has been around for a few decades now, so it’s not surprising that some information might be a bit dated.

For example, just a few years ago, most career advice gurus would have advised readers to wear a suit and tie to an interview, no matter what the job. In 2014, that advice might not work for some job interviews. A stuffy suit and tie could make you stand out, but not in the way you want. Following outdated advice can quickly move your resume to the “no way” pile.

That doesn’t mean career advice columns or blog posts from yesteryear can’t be relevant today. Just check the tips against current trends to make sure your job-hunting tactics don’t make you look like you’re out of touch with today’s realities.

3. Has this advice helped others become successful?

Many career advice gurus offer wisdom about things they have very limited practical knowledge of. As the saying goes, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

You want a true career guru with a proven track record of success. Did the person actually work in the same industry you want to join? Where did they gain their knowledge? What makes them a guru more than the next guy?

Check to see if readers commented on the blog post and have become successful thanks to their advice.

4. Does the advice suit your situation?

The first three rules will help you determine if a career advice guru is legit. But this rule is probably the best way to judge the effectiveness of a guru's advice for you and only you.

If what they’re saying doesn't work for you, then it simply isn't the right advice for you to follow. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

After all, you wouldn't follow a New York road map while driving in California. If the advice isn’t applicable to your situation, then it's not good career advice for you — no matter how well it works for anyone else.

There's a lot of information out there. Cutting through the noise and finding what works is the key to your success.

How do you determine lousy career advice from good advice? Share what works for you in the comments!

Gerald Buck is the editor of, a site offering job applications and resourceful information. He is passionate about providing advice to those seeking job opportunities. You can follow his Twitter handle @EJobApplication.