Old School Career Advice That You Should Completely Ignore

The big, bad world of work can be a scary place for recent grads and students. It’s natural to look to experienced guides – our parents, teachers or even career counsellors – for advice.

However, rapid changes in how businesses operate and connect with people mean that those seasoned veterans of employment may well be behind the times. The days of scattering paper CVs like confetti are over; the following pieces of advice should likewise be confined to The Good Old Days.


Call up and ask if they’re hiring

Guess what the employee will say if you ring them up? Check the company’s website for vacancies. You know what would take a fraction of the time of the aforementioned phone call? Checking the company’s website for vacancies.

The exception of course would be a small, independent businesses who might not have a website, but this is unlikely.

If someone you know has mentioned a vacancy and you’re calling to find out more, then great, go for it. By all means call recruiters too. However, there is little to be achieved by phoning up potential employers directly anymore.


If work was fun, they wouldn’t have called it “work”!

For many people of our parents’ generation, it was expected that you go to work, grind away the hours between 9am – 5pm, rinse and repeat until your sixties and then retire. Maybe, maybe you can enjoy a hobby at the weekends.

Times have changed. We expect more from our jobs now. People are beginning to understand the link between wellbeing and productivity, and employers are catching on that happy, healthy employees make for good business. We also expect our work schedule to fit our lifestyles, and flexible working is now the norm.

In short, work doesn’t need to be a miserable slog.


The ‘job for life’

Ah, another relic from The Good Old Days. Once upon a time, people did the same job for forty years and got a nice fountain pen and a modest pension at the end of it.

While some of our parents and older career guides may well have had a stable job their whole lives, it just doesn’t happen all that much anymore. Job security was the Holy Grail for Baby Boomers, but our generation need to be career chameleons.

Our job market is changing faster than ever thanks to rapid technological advances, with roles becoming obsolete as fast as new ones are becoming necessary. Adaptability has never been more important; the ability to learn new skills and the confidence to disrupt convention are far more useful to businesses than loyalty.

As a result, millennials are far more likely to change jobs. In the US, the average person has had 6.2 jobs by the age of 26. In the UK, 47% of workers say they’d like to change jobs. If your job offers no progression, no new skills and no enjoyment, then why stay?


You must get a job in your degree field

Arts and humanities grads will have heard something along these lines before: “A degree in [insert your beloved subject that you’ve dedicated at least three years of your life to here]? What are you going to do with that? You should have studied something sensible, like Business or Medicine.” Or oerhaps you did study something sensible like Business or Medicine but want to do something different, much to the horror of your relatives.

The fact is, around half of the UK’s grads don’t work in a field directly related to their degree subject. While you might need a specific type of degree for certain jobs (e.g. academic journals might need their editorial assistants to have a scientific qualification), your degree has given you a set of transferable skills that will be an asset to almost any business.

Let’s also take into account that people don’t often stay in the same field their whole professional lives. In fact, the average worker changes careers twice in their lifetime, one in four of whom do so in order to follow their passion. So even if you do follow the conventional path leading on from your chosen field of study, it’s unlikely you’ll stay on it forever.


So, who should you listen to?

Universities have amazing career services, and you can usually still use them for years after you graduate. Conduct your own research; LinkedIn is a great tool for this. Talk to people, ask those people to introduce you to other people in your chosen industry and chat to recruiters. Most importantly, follow your gut. The amount of (often conflicting) advice out there can be overwhelming, so trust your instincts and do what you think is best.


Inspiring Interns is an internship and graduate jobs agency.