10 Most Useless Pieces of Job Advice You Can Safely Ignore

Some of the most common pieces of job wisdom aren’t helpful today.

candidates waiting for a job interview
Updated May 28, 2024
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If you think the job advice you’ve been getting lately is a little less than helpful, you might be spot on.

Some of the oldest business tips in the book are getting pretty stale. So, if you are ready to find a job that can get you to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck, feel free to ignore these age-old pieces of job advice.

These days, some of them might do you more harm than good.

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If you’re interested in a job, walk in and ask to apply

Monkey Business/Adobe businesswoman arriving for work at office walking through door

Sure, some companies post an “accepting applications” sign on their front door — especially restaurants and retail stores that lost a lot of their workforce during the pandemic.

But unless a company is actively asking for people to walk through the doors and apply, you shouldn’t do so. Instead, check the company’s LinkedIn postings and social media activity, then apply when you see an opening. You can spend the time between now and then sprucing up your resume and working on your interview skills.

One old method that could still work: Calling the company before you apply. You can introduce yourself, express your interest, and ask who is hiring for the position so you can address your application to them.

The best way to get promoted is to work hard and keep your head down

wichayada/Adobe businesswoman reading paper documents

Rocking the boat isn’t usually celebrated in corporate culture, and offering criticism after criticism without a solution isn’t something we recommend. But if you want to get promoted, you should stand out from the crowd.

That means coming up with new, innovative ideas that make the business better than you found it.

If you always keep your head down and don’t draw attention to yourself, you’re more likely to be passed up for a promotion than if you work hard while frequently (and overtly) improving the company.

Always start with a firm handshake

djile/Adobe woman signing contract and handshakes with a manager

Gone are the days of starting an interview on the right foot with a strong, firm handshake.

For one thing, more and more jobs — and interviews — have gone remote. In these cases, a handshake just isn’t possible. And for another, COVID-19 changed many of our longstanding habits, handshakes included.

If you walk into an in-person interview and are extended a welcoming hand, feel free to return it with a handshake, but don’t put too much stock in the interaction. Your interview skills and job experience will be more important than a handshake when it comes to a good first impression.

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Try it

You can always find a way to get paid for doing what you love

Viacheslav Yakobchuk/Adobe male musician holding cardboard with inscription and smiling

Everyone’s been told at least once that the best way to establish a career is by chasing their passions. For most of us, though, passions and hobbies aren’t always a great source of cash.

Unless your joy is accounting, you might find that your passion project won’t keep you afloat. Consider finding a job that aligns with your marketable talents and turning your passion into a fun side hustle to make more money.

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life

ryanking999/Adobe asian gamer has eyes pain

Alas, every job comes with some amount of stress and boredom. That is why they call it work.

Some people also find that turning something they love into a job is a great way to wring all the pleasure from the activity.

Being yourself is the best way to approach a job interview

Prostock-studio/Adobe stressed applicant at job interview with headache

While you want to stand out from other candidates during your job interview, that doesn’t mean you should spend the interview showcasing your unique personality traits or aiming for full authenticity.

Interviews, in a way, are a performance. Try looking inward to find the traits — and even more importantly, skills — the company is looking for, then showcasing them.

Even if you’ve heard that a company is looking for a good culture fit, the truth is that your skills and experience are most valuable to your future employer. Highlighting your qualifications is essential and the best way to set yourself apart in the interview process.

You should always under-promise so you can over-deliver

Antonioguillem/Adobe worried self employed working in the night

Over-delivering when you’ve under-promised doesn’t set you up for a pat on the back. Instead, it allows you to underperform and prevents your boss from knowing what you can really do.

Plus, consistently over-delivering just ups the ante in terms of what your boss expects from you. Simply aim to accomplish your goals, and your consistency will establish you as a hard worker who can be counted on to get things done.

It’s better to stay in a job you hate than have to explain a gap in your resume

Yuliia/Adobe bored male office worker

A whopping 50% of employees leave their jobs within two years of being hired, according to Manila Recruitment. So if you stay in a job for just six months, odds are your future employer will understand.

The skills you learned from any given position are more important than the length of time you stayed at a job. If you highlight those skills in both your resume and job interview, you should be just fine.

Working without pay is worth it to establish a solid reputation

StratfordProductions/Adobe man working at the laptop till late at night

Yes, you want to establish a good reputation as a hard worker in your company. No, you shouldn’t do so at the risk of your own health and happiness.

Working without pay isn’t likely to score you a promotion, either. Once you set yourself apart as the person who works extra hours without asking for more money, you’ll likely stay that person for the rest of your time at the company.

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Never try to negotiate your wages

Andrey Popov/Adobe businessman giving cheque

Common wisdom holds that employees who ask for a higher salary than the one they’re offered will be turned away from the job, but that’s not always the case.

Instead, many companies have an internal, predetermined pay range for each job, and they might offer you a wage on the low end of that range. 

Depending on the company, industry, and your own work experience, you can absolutely feel free to bring up reasons why you think you should earn more money. After all, the company might have the budget to offer you more, or the worst they can do is say no.

Bottom line

terovesalainen/Adobe applicant with positive attitude

Outdated job advice can hold you back from truly excelling in your career and boosting your bank account.

Ignore these 10 flawed tips and let your own experience — plus real advice from people you trust — guide you through the ups and downs of landing your next gig.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.