Seeking career advice is something most professionals do at some point in their life. This most commonly occurs at the beginning of someone’s career. However, any difficult work-related situation or decision can be a time when advice is needed. Sometimes choosing the person to reach out to for advice can make all the difference. Asking the wrong person can lead to bad advice which can turn into a bad decision.
When asking for career advice, gather information from multiple sources. Professional connections can give knowledge based on their experience. Career coaches are specifically trained to give advice in this area. Family and friends will know you on a personal level and be able to provide unique insight. There are other valuable resources to consult as well.
In the following article, we explore how different groups can provide valuable career advice.
One of the best ways to find the right person is to search for your professional connections. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can do a quick search for the job title or company. Look for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level connections when deciding who to reach out to. These are users that are connected with you either directly (1st level) or indirectly through a common connection (2nd or 3rd). For 2nd connections, your common connection can introduce you to the person you’d like to speak with.
If you aren’t active on LinkedIn, don’t worry. There are other places to find and create professional connections.
Listed below are organizations and groups where you can seek out professional connections:
Be aware that there can be a cost to be involved with these organizations. Consider the value of the connections that you’ll make with the cost of membership.
In addition to speaking to people you personally know, asking for advice online can lead to positive results. There’s a good chance that many other online users have needed career or job advice for a similar situation.
Depending on your situation, you may want to keep certain details of your request private. Reddit is a great outlet in this scenario. Reddit is a social media platform that has individual forums called subreddits based on specific topics. Two of their relevant subreddits to post these questions to are career guidance and job advice. Unlike Facebook and Linkedin, your profile name is a chosen username, not your first and last name. This allows you to ask for advice with a bit more privacy than some other places.
YouTube is another great place to find free advice. Beyond funny cat videos, YouTube has plenty of valuable content, career advice included. A quick search for “career advice for…” will produce an endless list of videos offering high-quality knowledge. Some low-quality content will be mixed in as well. So, exercise caution and common sense when applying the advice that you find.
The popularity of podcasts has grown tremendously in the last few years. Part of the reason they’ve grown is the wide variety of topics covered. These topics range from politics to comedy to video games and everything in between. Podcasts covering work life haven’t hit the popularity level as others, but there is still valuable information to be found.
The following podcasts provide general job and career advice:
The best part about using podcasts for work and career advice is they’re usually free. There are some paid podcast platforms that allow for some additional benefits to listeners.
Unless you‘re lucky, well-connected, or pay big dollars it’s difficult to speak directly to career advice experts. Luckily, many experts have released books that offer valuable career advice. A simple search on Amazon for books on career advice will give you thousands of books to choose from. These books range from resume and interview advice to finding and choosing a career.
Of course, not all authors are experts and not all books will be relevant for your situation. Read the reviews and descriptions for books that seem like a good resource. Research the authors as it’s helpful to know the background and experience level of the author. If you’re looking for industry-specific advice, you’ll want knowledge from someone with experience in your industry. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 books at most. You don’t want to fall victim to information overload.
Many experts will also have free resources available on YouTube or their own website. If you’re on the fence about buying their book or paying for a program they offer, sample their free material.
If you feel like you need more intense assistance, a career coach may be the best option for you. Sometimes referred to as a career counselor, coaches typically have certifications and past experience that qualify them to provide career advice.
There are many reasons to work with a career coach. They can help you determine goals for your career if you’re unsure of what they should be. They do this by analyzing your skills, interests, and more to find the best course of action for you. If you already have a goal, a career coach can work with you to develop a plan to reach it. After creating the plan, they’ll track your progress toward the goal.
When deciding whether you want to work with a career coach, consider the following details:
Similar to a career coach, you may wish to seek out a career mentor. There are some important differences to note to help you decide which is best for you. For details on mentoring read our article How to Find a Career Mentor.
Current or previous professors are another good choice for people to reach out to for advice. Since professors have the built-in ability to educate, the advice they give carries a strong level of credibility. Their advice is also helpful as they have the first-hand familiarity of your knowledge and key skills.
If you’re currently in school, foster a positive relationship with your professor. Do this by first being a great student. Contribute frequently in class activities and discussions. When you feel like your professor values you as a student, ask for their advice. Let him or her know that you respect their opinion and knowledge and that you’d like career advice. Be specific about your question or concern and be attentive when they share their insight.
You can do the same for former professors after you’ve established your career. Most professors are delighted to hear from former students after they’ve found success. This gives them a sense of fulfillment to know how they positively impacted your life and still value their input.
For many of us, our parents are the first people in our lives to give us advice. Helping us through tough situations and decisions is part of what parents do. Parents and close family members also often have the insight of knowing us and our personality better than most people. However, these same people can also have their own ideas of what our success should look like.
Be cautious when asking family members for advice. This is especially true in the case of a career change. Family members that have always wanted you to succeed in a specific career will have trouble giving objective advice. Yet, if you have a close family member that has dealt with a similar situation, strongly consider their advice.
Career advice can span a wide variety of topics. These can range from changing your career to working with a difficult boss. What you need advice on should play a big role in who you reach out to. For example, you wouldn’t reach out to your boss when deciding whether or not you should leave your job. Be sure to choose wisely depending on the advice that you’re looking for.
For small decisions, it’s ok to spend less time worrying about who to contact or where to look for advice. In fact, these little details can more accurately be described as job advice, rather than career advice. When needing job advice, reaching out to friends, family, or colleagues is perfectly fine.
Some examples of situations in which you need job advice are listed below:
When making a decision that can impact your career and/or personal life, give some additional thought to who to ask. You want to be sure the person you reach out to has enough knowledge and experience to provide high-quality advice.
Some career advice scenarios are listed below:
More and more people are leaving their jobs due to a bad company culture. If you’re in this situation, take a look at our article How to Find a Company With Good Culture. We provide tips on what to look when searching for the right company.
Whether you’re looking to choose a career or you’ve recently decided to switch, there’s important information that’s published online about a specific job or career can certainly be useful. Typically though, the most helpful information comes from someone directly involved in the job. An individual that does the job every day will be able to draw on their experience to give you valuable insight.
You might already know the exact position that you want. In this case, connect with someone in this specific position. If it’s a promotion from the position you’re currently in, connect with someone outside of your company. You want your boss to know that your focus is on being productive and successful
We also recommend connecting with people from different types of companies. The experience of someone in the position you’re interested in can vary drastically from company to company. By doing this, you may get a better idea of the type of company you want to work for. For example, you might find out a small company is a better fit for your position than a large corporation.
If you’re undecided on your career choice, consider reaching out to individuals from multiple positions that you’re interested in. Each person should be able to provide specific details about their experience that may help with your decision. When reaching out, be sure to ask questions that only pertain to that person’s job. Asking questions related to irrelevant details will discourage people from engaging in a conversation with you.
When reaching out to these individuals, have specific questions prepared. Below are some valuable questions you can ask when you’re undecided about your career choice:
Be sure to only ask 3 to 4 questions at first. It’s important to keep in mind that the person is helping you during their free time. You don’t want to come off as pushy or rude.
If you’re struggling to select a career, consider making your choice based on your personality. Our article Careers That Fit My Personality explores this idea with ways to find your personality and recommendations for careers.
Who have you received your best career advice from? Join the conversation below by leaving us a comment.