The worst career advice from Reddit

Career advice is easy to dole out. It can come from an uncle, a boss or a friend with the best of intentions, but still, be absolutely terrible. What better place to talk about it than the Internet?

People like to take to Reddit, an online anonymous blog site, to air their deepest thoughts, sometimes on relationships or world news, and sometimes on terrible advice, their mom gave them on finding a job! A lot of career advice that once was passed around as solid is impractical in the modern world, and people share how it’s hurt them or their original aspirations.

We asked and here’s the bad advice people say they’ve gotten. 

Here’s a great note from one Reddit user we spoke to, “Pretty much all advice is bad advice: All experience is relative.”

Every situation, job, problem and so on is unique and each person brings their own biases, strengths, and history to it. The variables are incalculable so first and foremost you have to go with your gut. Take everything as if it were a drop of lemon on your meal, just a bit of flavor to something you’ve already made. But here are the 7 worst pieces of it for anyone looking to be positive about their career path.

“If you get a degree you’ll never have to flip hamburgers.”

Everyone in a financial crisis or with a degree that is highly competitive knows this to be untrue. A degree is often a stepping stone to getting an interview. You have to know exactly what a career demands of you, from filing Excel sheets to interviewing tons of clients, which are skills that aren’t always taught in school. Figure out hacks to get into your field or a good career.

“You need to get a J.O.B.”

Getting any old job can set your dreams back and get you stuck in a rut. This user said he was set back from starting a business because he never took the time to start it. A concerned male family member told him to immediately get a job, and so this person did, becoming an exhausted go-fer in a low-level position. Now he is just paying the bills. Immediately getting back to work after a job loss or trip can set you back if you don’t reassess. 

“Only do what you’re told.”

The idea that “If the company asks you for oranges, you give oranges,” is outdated and sees the boss as an all-knowing commandeer. Yes, especially when you first start you might have to bend to the will of a supervisor. But your career is about improving everyone and every process. Don’t be afraid to speak up, especially if you think everyone would like pears just a little better.

This person said doing things outside of a job description led to title changes. They went from a technical writer to being named “technical communicator” after going above and beyond for a project by adding in graphic design pieces. Do strong work outside the corporate cubicle.

Here are some more pieces of bad advice Reddit users have shared they’ve gotten over the years.

“Go to the store and just ask for a job in person.”

This might work sometimes for a grocery store, but even then you’ll have to apply online and usually be put through an online interview system. Few, if any jobs are found these days by just asking for one. Even entry-level jobs in a field won’t simply let anyone walk through the door and get a job.

“It’s unlikely you’ll get a better job than this one – better to stay and have a job, than quit and be jobless.”

A user shared this bleak outlook they got, which is totally untrue. You might have gotten a job for survival purposes, or picked one that wasn’t right. That’s part of life! Learn from the failure and look for a better one. Don’t think of life as stagnant, but cycles of relationships and connections that will take you to the next job, even before you quit your current one.

“The path to success is to start out at the bottom, work hard, and then you’ll get promoted up.”

This is part of a work hard mentality that simply does not work in a competitive market where connections and self-promotion are important just to even be noticed. Oftentimes, toxic people become successful, not humble hard workers. This is the result of a crowded system. Think through strategies to work your way up, and don’t think senior management will just magically notice you’re staying late and therefore give you a promotion. Successful people self-promote/brand themselves and manage when necessary, especially when jobs or clients are harder to find.

“All college is a waste of money. Work your way up to CEO.”

Most CEOs, from Jack Welch (RIP) to Bob Iger got MBAs. An advanced degree is required in most positions unless you started the company yourself. Always question the reason why you are pursuing something, from a job to a career, but don’t discount it wholesale because someone forty years ago got into a position you want now. 

So maybe consider all advice, even this, with the thought that it’s likely from the giver’s own successes, which are hardly a short, straight path. Get smart and listen to your gut. Work hard to negotiate your career and make yourself look like the strongest person out there for a new title, a startup or any other venture you can imagine. The world is your Reddit thread.