Why I Dislike Career Advice

October 1st, 2007

Talk to the hand - photo credits from Australia - http://www.abc.net.au/tropic/stories/s1577036.htmActually, I usually hate it. It drove me mad last year, in the heat of my job search.

Why? Because I felt that most of it didn’t apply to me. For some reason, whether it was the city I lived in, the job titles I was going for, my background, my personality, or the income bracket I needed, the articles I read just didn’t do it for me. After a while, I got really frustrated – “oh no, another 10-point list that says to do these things and I’ll be successful.

Really, I just needed someone who could pinpoint my problem. I needed someone to reach through my laptop and yell, “Jason! Your resume is keeping you from interviews because you put all your stuffed-shirt titles (like CIO, general manager, vice president) but you are applying for jobs at lower levels (like product manager, project manager and even business analyst)! Change the titles to be more general, or generic, because you are scaring off the hiring managers and confusing HR!!”

I would have replied with “ya but, I want them to see how cool and accomplished I am!” And the response would have been something like “You can be cool and accomplished, or you can start getting interviews, which do you prefer?”

That’s what I needed to hear. That was the biggest problem in my job search. If I had that I would have had a nice job over a year ago (and JibberJobber would have been nothing more than a dream).

But I never read that anywhere. I just read articles on what to wear to an interview (ironed clothes, dark and matching socks, etc.), how to interview (always ask them questions to show you are smart and prepared), and those magic lists that seemed to promise “do these 10 things and your wildest career dreams will come true.”

Sometimes we can do it on our own, taking a few hours to learn and apply. But sometimes it makes sense to get help. I just spent four action-packed days with resume and career professionals in Savannah, and it was… incredible. This is my second conference with many of these professionals and I am always amazed at what drives them, and what their value prop to a job seeker is.

I’m hooked – I’m a believer. Sure you can do it on your own, but if you are stuck, seriously consider getting help. It can be free (you can get free help from the state, or a religious entity), or you can find a professional that specializes in what you do. For example:

Kim Batson specializes in C-level and senior technology (IT) executives. She gave a presentation about IT resumes that taught me about my own industry – she knows her stuff!

Deb Dib specializes in senior-level executives who are entrepreneurial and want to make a difference in the world. Deb is very respected in the industry and helps her peers and her clients get laser-focus to acheive what they really want, with tools, techniques and strategies.

Susan Whitcomb has written a number of books on resume, job search, interview, etc. She has researched and studied this stuff for years, and even certifies coaches in an accredited program she developed – Susan knows how to find out what your problem is and help you develop the right solution.

Claudine Vainrub specializes in educational consulting and helps you get into the schools you want. Her clients have called on her services to get into Harvard and other top-league schools … she has “been there, done that” and instead of taking a gamble on getting in, you need to check out what she can do for you!

My point? There are lists, and there is generic advice. But sometimes what we need is more than a list. We need a guru that can draw on experience and wisdom, someone who understands hiring trends and tactics, and someone who can identify our own issues. If you are stuck, or know that you want to accelerate the process for that next great step in your career, check out one of my partners (all four above have partnered with JibberJobber).

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6 Responses to “Why I Dislike Career Advice”

  1. Deb Dib says:

    Jason, thanks for the recognition – it’s truly generous of you to mention me in your blog.

    Now here’s some love right back at you – those of us at the conference who got to spend some time with you are just blown away by your drive and passion, your responsiveness to adapting JJ to help us help our clients better, and your down-to-earth humanity and humility (yes, one can be driven and competitive, and still be humble enough to learn – and that’s you). You’re one of the good guys – generous and smart as heck, too – what a nice combination! :-)

    Careerists, job seekers, and the professionals who serve them are all fortunate that you transformed your difficult job search experience into THE must-have career management tool. Your success will help countless job seekers and career activists to achieve theirs. What a win-win!

    Deb Dib, CEO Coach, and Jason Alba brand evangelist. :-)

  2. [...] Why I Dislike Career Advice – Jason Alba Study: Firms Should Help Unhappy Workers – Examiner.com Canada Not Isolated In Skills Shortage Problem – DOB Magazine [...]

  3. Dear Jason:

    Thank you for your comments on the added value provided by career coaches, and also on my personal brand. As a career and educational consultant, the greatest reward is to see that professionals we work with achieve their highest aspirations. Their success is the best price we can get for doing a good job!

    With JibberJobber, you have made it possible for us to keep helping our customers by easily tracking their continued career growth. I am very grateful for this outstanding tool! It will make a difference in my customers’ careers and in my business, as well.

    You are a true visionary!

    Claudine Vainrub

  4. Jason, appreciate the post, not just for the mention (thanks!), but for the underlying truth of it.

    Generic advice does NOT work. Collaboration (and coaching) does! Advice is often authoritative and assumes the person receiving it doesn’t have intuition and common sense (very demeaning!). I think what you’re talking about is collaborative interdependence. We’re better together (very empowering!).

    You are the epitome of what I’ve been “preachin’” about for years: If job seekers would act on the “perfection of problems” and turn them into something magnificent (as you did with JJ), what a world we would have, eh? Bravo.

    Susan Whitcomb, Career Coach Academy

  5. [...] I feel like the topic of this post violates what I wrote yesterday, about not liking career advice :p Oh well. This had a profound impact on me, so I’ll share it with you [...]

  6. Find a Job says:

    I hate it when people say “Don’t give up”. I mean if it were guitar lessons or playing golf then I’d say giving up might be a viable option. But when it comes to job searching I’d say it isn’t.

    ~Larry

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