We’ve all seen them passed along on the internet at one point or another.
From Reddit threads to Instagram captions, there are handfuls of career hacks and nuggets of seemingly foolproof advice out there that have become commonplace for those of us trying to climb the corporate ladder and get ahead in our careers—but whether or not these best practices are truly the best is a whole different story.
Curious about whether or not these common career guidelines actually hold water? Us too.
That’s why we spoke to career coaches and c-level executives to get to the bottom of some of the most frequently repeated career hacks floating around the internet.
From common resume practices to exactly who you should and shouldn’t be trying to impress, here’s what the experts say you should and shouldn’t be wasting your time on.
Pursue your passion and the money will follow.
There are certainly many examples of people who pursued their passion and have had a lot of financial success but it often isn’t the case.
“It’s simple supply and demand, jobs and fields people are passionate about attract more interest which allows employers to find good employees for lower salaries,” says Adam Sanders is the Director of Successful Release, an organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged populations find financial and professional success.
“You shouldn’t give up on your dreams but realize that the satisfaction and enjoyment you get from a dream job is often a component of the compensation.”
Everyone has to pay their dues.
Experience is valuable but the concept of ‘paying your dues’ by working in a certain role or for a certain company for X amount of years regardless of performance is a total myth, according to Sanders.
“There is often a way to accelerate your career by performing better, switching companies, or making the right connections. Don’t fall in the trap of just waiting for things to happen if you want to make the most of your career!”
Working hard and doing great work is all you need to do.
How hard you work and the results you deliver is often irrelevant if the right people don’t know about it.
“If you’re producing amazing results but they don’t align with management’s goals or someone else is taking credit for your work it will get you nowhere,” says Sanders. “Promoting the great work you do to the decision-makers and ensuring that your priorities align with theirs is absolutely critical. Without that, all your hard work will be in vain.”
You owe something to the company you work for.
Many people are hesitant to switch jobs or leave a company they work for because they feel a sense of loyalty or debt to a company they work for. According to Sanders, this is completely natural, especially if the company has treated you well.
“The reality is that those feelings are almost always one-sided. If circumstances change and your position is no longer needed or layoffs are necessary to remain financially viable most companies won’t be willing to keep you around. Always be professional but don’t be afraid to do what’s in your best interest.”
Don’t use your vacation time or PTO.
“The common career advice seems to be that if you are devoted to your job, you will not take any time off away from it. As such, you may be viewed more favorably for a promotion,” explains Deborah Sweeney, CEO at MyCorporation.com. “This is a career myth, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Sweeney added that using your vacation time and PTO allows you to rest and recharge. When you come back to work, you’ll be much more refreshed and likely have new ideas acquired by experiences spent traveling that you may share with your team.
Be the first in and the last to leave.
While this common adage has been circulating for years, staying in the office longer than you need to isn’t what’s going to set you apart from your colleagues.
“Lots of people advise others to put in more hours than needed for the sake of showing you’re a hard worker,” says Amit Gami, Founder and CEO at Laser Eye Surgery Guru. “Unfortunately working long hours does not mean you are a hard, efficient worker. It just means that you spend more time at work.” Using your time efficiently and hitting goals is a far more important hack to fastrack your career.
Don’t leave gaps in your resume.
“This is derived from the notion that it is better to stick to one’s current job than to quit and be jobless but this is nothing further than the truth,” says HR executive Madeleine Seah, adding that you should never stay in a job because you think that you won’t be able to find a better job than your current one.
Instead, Seah suggests quitting your job and using your previous employment as a learning opportunity to search for something better.