16 Best Pieces of Career Advice From Reddit

Discover the hidden gems of career wisdom as revealed by the Reddit community.

multi ethnic candidates at job interview
Updated May 28, 2024
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Are you tired of job postings feeling like riddles and your boss like a villain from a B-movie? It's time to hack the system. 

Reddit, the anonymous internet haven, is brimming with insider secrets from hiring managers, seasoned professionals, and even those who've battled (and conquered) toxic workplaces. 

If you're ready to level up your resume, ace that interview, and boost your bank account, these actionable tips are the game-changers you've been waiting for.

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Don’t second guess yourself when a toxic boss puts you in their sights

Kaspars Grinvalds/Adobe angry boss

It’s easy to become overwhelmed and even downright afraid when a toxic boss decides you’re their target, even without evidence to warrant their termination threats. 

Sometimes, though, it’s not you, it’s them. It’s hard not to second-guess everything you do after that threat. And ultimately, it may also lead to a drop in your productivity.

Reddit user Witty-Bus352 writes, “You need to remove yourself from that environment and any associations you picked up there for your own well-being.” 

They continue, speaking of that toxic boss, “On top of that, the fact that they have people like this working there tells you other things are wrong as well.”

When it’s time for a change, don’t start with a new bachelor’s degree

Chinnapong/Adobe E-learning class and e-book digital technology in education concept

If you’re one of the many people who put four years into an education in a field you no longer like, you have two typical options. You could start over with a new bachelor’s degree in a field you’re interested in or get a master’s degree to advance your current job skills.

The better option, in NewScooter1234’s opinion, is obvious: “Get a masters. Much faster and you can get into some very interesting programs with a totally unrelated bachelor's sometimes.” 

Turn your education into a new path through a master’s — just diversify it enough.

Focus on applying for the right jobs

Rawpixel.com/Adobe woman using laptop with job application dialogue

It’s not uncommon for people to report that they’ve applied for dozens or even hundreds of jobs and are not getting the opportunity to interview. Surely, if you’re applying enough and have the basic minimum, someone would come along and hire you up, right?

That’s not a good goal, according to LeagueAggravating595, who writes, “It is quality NOT quantity, and you need to be different than the 99% who are doing the exact same thing." 

"Focus on being the 1% to have a great resume and get the job. If you had spent all those hours on 600 job applications to focus only on just 2-3 jobs you qualify for, your results would have yielded much higher success.”

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Don’t worry too much about why you left your last job

Miljan Živković/Adobe man holding a box with personal items stuff leaving the office

If you were fired from your last job, you may be worried about what’s going to happen when a new potential employer hears about how horrible your last job went. But don’t make that mistake.

One, as noted by babyhuey1978, “You get to tell a future employer whatever you want or don't want to. Depending on where you are from, if your new employer wants a reference from your other job, they can only be told you worked there and for how long.”

Also helpful, JacqueShellacque shares that if you’re going to tell the prospective employer what happened, do so in the right way, “Focus on what you learned how to do during the time you were asked to meet ambitious goals and to do a role you were unaccustomed to, rather than on trying to explain what happened, which may come across as making excuses.”

Protect your privacy about a medical issue and explain that gap in your work history

Daniels C/peopleimages.com/Adobe man with headache

You took time off to deal with a private medical issue, whether it's depression, substance use disorder, or cancer. It’s your business and you don’t want to share that. How do you communicate to a prospective new employer why you weren’t working?

One Reddit user, Loveinvein, offers, “I have a gap of over 10 years due to being on disability. I had a disability expert suggest I say that I had to take time off due to a medical issue, but now I’m well again and looking forward to getting back to work.”

They then continue with, “It’s okay to say you were a freelancer or consultant. Frame it to be in line with the kind of work you’re going for. If they ask why you stopped, you can say you wanted more steady hours, better benefits, you like working for an established company and don’t like the hustle, etc.”

Don’t be afraid to make a lateral move to another company

djrandco/Adobe handshaking and smiling candidly at a job interview

Your employer bumped you up to the next level in the company — how fantastic. What it failed to say is that your new title doesn’t come with a pay raise, but you have new responsibilities. Do you stick around or leave, especially when there’s no room for negotiation?

Reddit user Infamous_Fly2601 states, “That's called ‘quiet hiring’. The company is low on resources, and rather than actually hire for open positions, they just spread the outstanding responsibilities among existing employees and/or move employees around the organization to meet their needs without increasing headcount or expense.”

“Leverage this new title bump to make a lateral move at another company. Run away as fast as you can.”

You can say no to a promotion you’re not ready for

fizkes/Adobe businessman shakes hand

Assume you know you’re up for a promotion, but you don’t know that you want the time and training commitment for it. 

How do you tell your boss no without being completely disregarded for future positions, especially if you want that position when you’re more seasoned?

It may be time to look at it from their point of view. If you say no now, you may not be the best candidate later when you are ready. 

Instead, ApplicationHot4546 states, “I always purposely hired people who were not 100% ready for the role but wanted it bad. I told them literally to ‘fake it till ya make it’ and just keep working with them to learn stuff and fix any of their mistakes along the way until they’re no longer faking it.”

Find out if the hiring manager is a “bad” egg

alfa27/Adobe female boss angry at employees holding papers in hands at work

You’ve been burned in the past and don’t want to deal with another bad manager. Now that you’re interviewing for new positions, there are several questions you can ask a hiring manager to get a clue into what they’re really like.

One Reddit user, Stella-462, shares, “Ask him his philosophy on work-life balance and how many employees he manages, then ask him if he’s retained staff or if there ‘a lot of transitions lately’ be polite.”

Another great information-gathering statement is this one shared by omgitsviva: “Had someone ask me this in an interview a few weeks ago, and thought it was a great question:

Tell me about recent feedback a direct report gave to you and how you responded.”

Cover letters may be helpful

fizkes/Adobe female manager in glasses engaged in office paperwork

Writing cover letters can be boring and time-consuming, especially if you’re submitting dozens of them to companies and must personalize each one. Is it really necessary to include them in the digital age? The bottom line is, do hiring managers even look at or care about cover letters?

FinalDraftResumes shares, “Some don’t, some do. If you’re applying to a position that you really care about, including a cover letter might be something to consider. It can help explain why you’re interested in the job. I[t] could explain how your past experiences set you up for success at the job. It could clarify any unusual circumstances such as career gaps.”

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It’s not normal for employers to contact you after work

slexp880/Adobe smartphone with silence mode enabled

While increasingly common, it’s not normal or acceptable for employers to contact you after work at all hours of the evening for questions. The problem is that it happens so often that people don’t say no often enough.

Reddit’s jokebreath states, “It’s going to look different based on your job/workplace, but establish boundaries however you can and make it a point to only answer messages/emails during normal business hours. Call their bluff and see what happens. You’ll realize all the urgent fire alarms weren’t actually all that urgent. Don’t burn yourself out, it can cause more damage than you think.”

Think of your resume as an advertisement

Jakkapant/Adobe resume application on desk

There’s a job you want to apply for, one you know you could be a good fit for, but you don’t have any experience. Should you tell the hiring manager you have no experience? How does that look on a resume?

“The point of a resume is to highlight your qualifications. Think of it like an advertisement. I'm sure there are experiences you have had at those jobs that show you are a good employee that is worth including in your resume,” shares Office-Sadist on Reddit. 

Consider how you can apply life experience to the tasks at hand.

Take steps to heal from career burnout

Krakenimages.com/Adobe partners stressing one of them

Burnout leads to a drop in productivity and a loathing of going to work, and you may end up leaving the job. As you think about your next career, consider these three tips from adviceconfus on Reddit. 

First, they say, “I'm not sure what your personal passions or goals are, but I personally recommend having a think about what you DON'T want to do.”

They continue, “Once you've ruled out your no's, you are left with your maybe's and yes's, and that's where self-confidence needs to kick in. I know it's hard but try to use your time to think in a more positive mindset. Don't focus on the fact you are burnt out. Focus on what you did well in that time.”

As you’re thinking about your future, think highly of yourself. “So remind yourself that your previous company clearly saw some value in you, and that value didn't disappear overnight when you left,” they conclude.

Perfect the two-minute elevator pitch

kerkezz/Adobe african female manager interviewing female candidate

You’re in a networking event and want to make a difference, stand out, and connect. Having confidence is a must, but that’s not always easy.

Over at Reddit, shmoney2time states, “I used to struggle with this too, the reason was that I did not feel confident with myself. Take the time to practice talking to people face to face in the manner you wish to present yourself.”

They also add, “Another thing is that there is no issue in pausing between sentences and taking the time to think about what you are going to say. Punctuation exists in writing because it is supposed to be used in speech as well.”

Master eye contact in a video interview

insta_photos/Adobe female hr reading cv during online virtual job interview by video call

Do you look at the person in an online video, or do you look at the camera on the monitor? For many, reading facial expressions means looking at the person, but there’s a trick to making sure you’re creating the right level of professionalism.

WigglyBaby at Reddit offers, “I position the other person right under the camera. Most of the time, I look at their image. If I'm talking and I want to make eye contact, I look straight into the camera. Kind of like glancing in someone's eyes. It's not natural to me, but it's helpful to them.”

Provide an alternative solution when your boss is wrong

insta_photos/Adobe indian male hr specialist manager

If your ideas are different from your boss’s, how can you tell them they’re wrong without landing on their bad list?

Firefox_Alpha2 offers a solid strategy. “A boss worth working for would welcome feedback. However, it’s got to be in a respectful and professional manner. Also, don’t just say ‘it’s a bad idea.’ You must always have a reason and an alternative, or at least ideas on how to find the alternative.”

Get comfortable speaking in front of important people

Jacob Lund/Adobe businesswoman making a presentation

When your job involves multiple co-workers and an office filled with other people doing similar work, it can seem impossible to get ahead if you can’t stand out. Here’s one way to stand out for all the right reasons and eventually boost your bank account with a promotion.

BimmerJustin shares what worked for them, “The absolute best piece of advice I can give to stand out in the professional world is to get comfortable and confident speaking in front of a group of important people. Then, take every opportunity you can get to do so. I can’t tell you how many times a persuasive and knowledgeable presentation in front of high-level employees has opened doors for me. If I were to chalk up my career success to one thing, it's that.”

Bottom line

ink drop/Adobe reddit logo on a smartphone

Sometimes, the best career advice comes from the people living in the same situation you’re in but have already made it through. 

Reddit is full of outstanding advice from people who get it. Use the advice that seems most appropriate for your situation, and you’ll lower your financial stress and job concerns in no time.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker

Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.