What To Do When You Receive Conflicting Career Advice


“Resumes should never be more than one page.” and “Resumes should never be more than two pages.”

“Don’t waste your time with a cover letter, no one reads them.” and “Cover letters are more important than the resume.”

“Don’t show your age by including your college graduation date on your resume.” and “Don’t hide your age, it will be obvious once you go in to interview.”

“The only way to look professional is to wear a suit to an interview.” and “Don’t wear a suit to an interview, you’ll look overdressed.”

With so much career advice out there – and so much of it sounding as if it’ll make or break your chances of getting a new job – it’s worth noting that there truly are no rules. There are guidelines and best practices, but every one of the sentences listed above is accurate for someone.

So, what can you do to put your best foot forward (and not go crazy from all the conflicting information)?!

Think about YOUR situation: What’s wrong for one person is right for another. Let’s take the resume length example. More often than not, I’d recommend a two page resume for an executive and a one page for a new grad. Why? Length of time in the workforce warrants different amounts of information. Two people, two resumes, two right answers.

Consider probability: What’s likely to make a better impression? Using the cover letter statements as an example, think about what might happen if you send one and what might happen if you don’t. If you send a letter, it might not get read but you probably won’t be faulted for trying. If you don’t send one, the hiring manager might think you’re not interested enough in the job to make the effort. Now which seems like the better route?

Realize that you can’t be all things to all people: At the end of the day, career strategies aren’t set in stone – which is why everyone has an opinion. It’s maddening (and futile) to try and fit everyone’s definition of what’s “right” and “wrong” in the job search. Instead, your time would be better spent trying to get in front of as many decision makers as possible. Control what you can and do what makes sense for you and your situation. It’ll save your sanity!

Photo credit: Question 2, ba1969

About Charlotte Weeks - Executive Career Coach / Executive Resume Writer / Outplacement Consultant

Prior to founding Weeks Career Services, Inc. Charlotte Weeks worked in human resources at a national association, where she experienced the hiring process from the other side. She's also the past president of The National Resume Writers' Association (The NRWA). Charlotte specializes in providing C-level executives (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.), association executives, executive directors and senior-level professionals (director, VP, SVP, etc.) with comprehensive career coaching services and high-ROI resumes. She is author of "I Want a Job in an Association -- Now What?? A Guide to Getting a Job in a Professional Association, Membership Organization, or Society" and featured author of "101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career." Additional book contributions include "The Twitter Job Search Guide," "Resumes That Pop!," and "Step-by-Step Cover Letters." As an internationally-recognized expert, Charlotte provides programs and documents tailored to each individual’s needs. To ensure that each person is given the highest quality of attention and service, Charlotte works with a limited number of new clients each month.
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