You can surf the internet, read books and watch this space for career advice, but at the end of the day listen only to what makes sense and agrees with your personality.
Plenty of career advice is available online and in print is based on studies and surveys which have their own limitations. Then there is the collective knowledge of hiring managers as well as the analysis of coaches, columnists and career experts, which regardless to best efforts, is not free of personal preferences. That is why there is no absolute truth to any advice.
So turn on your critical thinking and don't blindly follow advice that contradicts your common sense even if it worked for someone else. At the end of the day, career advice is very far from being a one solution that fits all. Additionally, culture can significantly impact hiring processes. So what seems like a logical piece of advice in one community may not even be appropriate in another.
Even on an individual basis, a general tip can put you in an awkward situation or make you unable to proceed with an interview if you don't fully understand its significance. For instance, if you studied some sample questions that can be asked during an interview, be sure that you can answer them in a different way.
Here are some examples of career advice that I would think twice about following:
A hiring manager, interviewed by a job search website, said that one of the points that impress him in a job interview is a candidate who has a sense of humour. Agreed! There is no question that a less-scripted and more spontaneous conversation can be a relief for an interviewer. However, there can be a thin line between making a witty comment and an insult in some cultures. Even individual reactions to a candidate's attempt to lighten up a serious job interview can widely vary. It can also be mistaken for a lack of respect or serious interest in the job.
Follow your passion!
Advice out there tells you if your career doesn't satisfy you anymore, find another one. While I don't encourage anyone to continue on a path that does not nourish his or her personal and professional development, jumping into a career change should be taken very seriously. Your personal circumstances are not to be ignored when you making such a decision. For example if you've to care for a child, a parent or you don't have sufficient finances to support any studies and unemployment associated with changing your career, then it might not be the right time to follow your passion. You are the only one who can make a decision on whether to go ahead with a career change or delay it until you're sure that your storage of energy, time and money is sufficient to make it happen.
You spend hours or perhaps days and months networking and searching for an appropriate job opening. Now you found one, don't resort to quick solutions to get your application out. There are many websites that offer templates for almost everything and anything. While they might be a good reference if you're completely stuck, try not to follow them to the letter. The more you think about your individual experience and its relevance to the job opportunity, the more unique your application can be presented. It is a way to make your package stand out very early in the process. Templates and online samples, even if they seem polished, are repetitive, particularly for a hiring manager who is looking at candidates with similar resources.
Products for success
Career advice is a big industry. There are resume writers, coaches, seminars, workshops and books. Your role is to control your own expectations of yourself and choose wisely which help you need, if any. Taking too much advice in an area that is irrelevant to the job can be a distraction that hurts you. What is the use of a super impressive resume written by a professional if you didn't manage to demonstrate your qualifications in a personal interview? So be more than selective when you begin to pay for help.
Rania Oteify, a former Business Features Editor at Gulf News, is a freelance journalist based in Salt Lake City, Utah.