Monday, April 12, 2010

Consider Your Sources

A good personal network is very important no matter your current employment situation. Friends and family provide a lot of much needed moral support in our every day lives. MSN Careers shares this article on just which advice to take about job searching.

Are You Getting Bad Job Advice?
By Anthony Balderrama, writer

Your support network probably consists of your closest friends and maybe some trusted family members. You know these people will help you out in any way possible -- when you're at your happiest or feeling defeated. That's what friends are for, just like Dionne Warwick sang.

Unfortunately, these people aren't perfect. You know they want the best for you, and that's why you turn to them for help. But a new survey from The Creative Group finds that those closest to you might not always be the best advice givers, especially when you need professional advice.

Who's giving the worst advice?
Of surveyed advertising and marketing executives, 58 percent say co-workers gave them bad career advice. Bosses didn't fare much better, as 54 percent blame them for bad career advice. Parents and relatives are better career counselors, but 35 percent of surveyed executives received unsatisfactory guidance from them. Thirty percent of spouses and significant others are blamed for bad advice (and probably had to sleep on the couch at some point). Mentors have the best record for dispensing advice, as only 21 percent have the finger pointed at them.

As to why so many of our nearest and dearest make such unreliable advisers, you could just chalk it up to human nature. "Nobody's perfect" might be a cliché, but it's true, and your support network isn't likely to sabotage you on purpose.

Well, sometimes they might. Survey respondents admit that some of the bad advice they received did more for the giver than the receiver.

"My former boss discouraged me from going to work for a competitor, saying that I wouldn't last, but I did," says one surveyed executive. "I later found out that he had made a wager that I wouldn't join that firm, and that was why he discouraged me to work there."

Another respondent recalls, "A co-worker wanted me to take her job so she could take a new position. It wasn't a good idea. I wasn't ready to fill that job."

Considering that your career decisions affect your colleagues and boss directly, perhaps their tendency to give harmful advice isn't surprising after all. For that reason, Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group, cautions you to evaluate the motives of the advice giver.

The do's and don'ts of asking for advice
According to Farrugia, workers seeking help can take some steps to get the best advice. She recommends keeping these five tips in mind:

Do seek out experience
The best advice comes from someone who has been in your position. Even if the specifics are a little different, a similar experience will give the best insight.

"For example, if you're looking to transition into a particular niche, talk to someone who made a comparable change," Farrugia says. "If you're having trouble finding suitable contacts, use social networks like LinkedIn to expand your reach."

Do follow your own goals
Although friends and family may have your best interests in mind, they don't have your same professional and personal goals. Remember to listen to their advice without forgetting what you want for yourself.

Do explain yourself
No one can help you make the right decision if they don't know what you're looking to get out of your career.

Farrugia explains, "By describing your professional objectives and values to your acquaintances, you'll help them give better guidance."

Don't have a one-track mind
Your network is composed of people with different backgrounds and experiences, and even if they haven't been in your shoes, they've probably observed someone who was. Don't rely on a single person to get advice. Instead, talk to as many people as you can to hear their opinions and then decide what best aligns with your needs.

Don't forget your manners
"Thank everyone who takes the time to provide career guidance, and keep in touch with all helpful sources, returning the favor when you can," Farrugia says.

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at