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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Friends and Family Aren't the Best Source of Career Advice

Friends and Family Aren't the Best Source of Career Advice
Credit: FIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Looking for career advice? You might want to steer clear of your family and friends, new research finds. 

Whether it's being told by their parents not to be friends with their co-workers or having a friend suggest that resumes should be long and detailed, many employees admit that those closest to them have given them bad suggestions on how to get a job or advance in the workplace, according to a study from the staffing firm Accountemps.

Specifically, 35 percent of the employees surveyed said their friends have steered them in the wrong direction when it comes to their careers. Additionally, 14 percent have parents and 10 percent have other family members who have offered up bad career advice. [Looking for career advice? Who CEOs trust most.]

"Whether you're a first-time job seeker, an experienced professional trying to climb the career ladder or someone looking for a career change, it's not uncommon to ask a trusted confidante for guidance," Mike Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps, said in a statement. "Friends and family members typically have good intentions, but they may steer you in the wrong direction."

There is one family member whom employees can usually count on to set them straight. The research found that just one percent of employees have gotten bad career advice from their spouse.

The study shows that employees are much less likely to get poor recommendations from those they work with. Just five percent of the employees surveyed said they were given questionable career guidance from co-workers and only four percent said a manager or supervisor gave them problematic advice.

When employees do need some guidance, they should make sure the person they ask for help has the experience to provide helpful tips, said Steinitz.

"Cast a wide net when reaching out to those in your network and ask specific questions pertaining to each person's experience," Steinitz said. "Weigh all the pros and cons in any situation and make the decision based on what is best for your career and your personal priorities."

To help employees who receive bad advice, Accountemps offers these time-tested career tips:

  1. Be prepared. When applying for a job, be sure to tailor your resume for the position, practice answering tough questions hiring managers may ask and don't be late for interviews.
  2. Honesty is the best policy. Never embellish or lie on an application or resume. No matter how small or innocuous you may think the lie is, it can cause long-term damage to your career and reputation if it is uncovered.
  3. Don't be afraid of change. While looking for a new job may seem scary, working in a job you aren't happy in can often be a worse feeling. If a time comes where you are no longer in love with your position, it might be time to look for something better.
  4. Push yourself. Regardless of where you are in your career, you should always challenge yourself to get better. You should regularly set professional goals and don't be scared to take on assignments outside your comfort zone in order to expand your skills and expertise.

The study was based on surveys of 1,000 U.S. employees who work in an office environment. 

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.