As if managing your career weren’t difficult enough, following outdated advice only makes landing new opportunities harder. These are some prime examples of clichéd career tips that you should no longer follow.
You Can’t Succeed in Tech Without Passion
Managers and startup founders tend to view passion as a difference-maker and vital characteristic for tech professionals. But passion won’t make you an expert coder, and it won’t pay your bills. “Liking technology is not enough to have a successful career,” said Hiranya (Hira) Fernando, founder and principal of Careerly, a career strategy and coaching firm based in Washington D.C. “You also need talent and the ability to generate revenue to make your career sustainable.” Ricki Frankel, an executive career coach and instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, refers to passion as overrated. “No one is passionate about something every single minute of the day,” she said. “And what you’re committed to from a career standpoint reveals itself over time.”
It’s Easier to Find a Job When You Have a Job
Modern job hunting is time-consuming. It’s hard to hold down a full-time job while searching for a new one. Given the high failure rate for tech startups
, and frequent downsizing at major tech firms, there’s less stigma toward the short-term unemployed in tech circles; it’s become much more acceptable to quit your job so you can devote every waking moment to finding a new position.
Work for a Big Company If You Want Stability
“Size no longer matters,” Frankel said. “It doesn’t matter whether you work for a large company or a small startup, job security is not guaranteed.”
Take a Job in Tech Support and Work Your Way Up
It’s not impossible to get promoted out of tech support into systems administration, database admin or programming… but the odds aren’t in your favor. You may be better off cutting your teeth on an entry-level position in a specialty that has a clearly defined career path.
The Tech Industry Is Hip
Two common misconceptions about the tech industry: It’s “hip,” and success is practically guaranteed. “Success stories dominate the limelight in the tech world,” Fernando said. “You never hear about the 99 percent of companies that don’t get multi-million dollar valuations.” While tech firms are considered cool, they’re not exempt from the infighting, power struggles, and inequality issues that make working at companies in other industries an occasional drag. “The currency for acquiring power in tech is the same as other industries,” Frankel said. “You have to get it and learn how to use it to acquire power.”
Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow
Sorry, but wages are dictated by economic forces and labor market conditions such as supply and demand. Loving your job is a bonus, but not one you can take to the bank.
You Need Certifications or a Degree to Get Ahead
While degrees and certs can help open doors to high-paying jobs in management, engineering or data science, experience and performance can trump education as your career progresses. And don’t underestimate the influence of timing and luck on career success.
You Can Do Anything You Envision
A positive, optimistic attitude is definitely an asset, but some things are beyond your control. “The problem with thinking that you can accomplish anything is that life is unpredictable,” Fernando said. “Even if you work really hard, you may not get that promotion. And if you believe that anything is possible, then you’ll have tendency to blame yourself.”