TCG 411: Career Caveats

Need Career Advice? Be Careful What You Ask For

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

Navigating the workplace is more challenging than ever before, but it can be less daunting when you have a circle of contacts that you can turn to for advice. But be careful whom you tap; some of the guidance you receive may actually hurt your professional prospects.

Nearly six in 10 advertising and marketing executives interviewed by The Creative Group said they have received bad career advice from coworkers. Another 54 percent have been steered in the wrong direction by their bosses.

So, how can you find career advice that’s actually worthwhile? Here are some tips:

  • Find the voice of experience. When seeking guidance on a particular issue, get perspective from someone who has faced a similar situation. For example, if you’re looking to build up your interactive skill set, talk to someone who’s an expert in this space who can provide recommendations on relevant courses or resources that might launch your learning. If you’re having trouble finding suitable contacts, tap your professional network.
  • Let your ambitions be the guide. Everyone has a different perspective about what’s important in life – and what should be important for you. For instance, family members may value security more than you do. A colleague’s advice may be misguided because the person knows your actions may affect his or her career. When contemplating advice, be sure to differentiate between the ambitions others may have for you and your own.
  • Help them help you. It’s hard to gather useful advice if the people you consult don’t know your career goals. By describing your professional objectives, priorities and values to your acquaintances, you give them the information needed to provide quality guidance.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. When making an important career decision, tap multiple resources so that you gain a range of perspectives. A variety of information can help you make the most informed choice.
  • Keep it coming. Thank everyone who takes the time to provide career guidance, and keep in touch with all helpful sources, returning the favor when you can.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at