Careers Advice Is Useless, But Not Having It Is Worse

careers advice
Written by Faizan Patankar

careers advice

Now then, this could raise a few eyebrows. Even here at Career Geek these are shocking words. This is my opinion and I am entitled to sharing my opinions about careers advice. Everybody is now (apparently) an expert on giving careers advice. You could give my dad a website, a chair and a desk and he will start spreading his careers wisdom. Quite frankly, I have never taken that on board.

Why Careers Advice Is Useless

I am not slating careers advice; I just don’t think it is concrete enough or helps in achieving anything. Careers advice gives you direction and knowledge and is supposed to help you develop your thought process. Just like education – it is useless (I think), but not having it is even worse.

The face of careers advice is – CV advice, graduate job advice, employer workshops, etc. Out of the three mentioned – which one exactly shapes your career?

CV advice will help you create a good CV and give you a good chance of being called for an interview. Graduate job advice is the most superficial of all. I got all sorts of advice, eventually I had to crack the code myself. The key to those online applications is keywords and understanding applicant tracking systems, none of which any careers adviser speaks about. And what about employer workshops? How much do they really help? Only as much as the company is interested in helping. BP only goes to a few universities to deliver their employer presentations. Does this mean your career will not lead you there? No.

Eventually you will carve your own destiny. If everything goes to plan and you find the exact job that you want, that’s brilliant! But how many of us get the luxury to say that?

Careers advice should be about informing students on a broader scale; not on the micro-advice level. But not having it is worse.

Why No Careers Advice Is Worse

Well, because without careers advice you might end up wearing flip-flops to an interview. Not that my main worry is you wearing flip-flops to an interview, but the lack of careers advice might put you in various embarrassing situations.

Without careers advice we would all be making basic mistakes which we shouldn’t. But is careers advice really the term for it? It does not help my career to know there is a mistake on my CV. If I was doing a donkey’s job, my main ambition would be to be the best donkey in town. That’s a career. Wearing flip-flops to an interview is not really careers advice.

I know this article will not really change the term careers advice and I don’t mean to (not simply in 500 words). But we all need to be careful with the way we sell careers advice to students and graduates.

It isn’t a magic talk that will help you get a job. It isn’t something that will change your life. Careers advice is useless, unless YOU have a plan. YOU have ambitions. YOU want to succeed. But not having careers advice means watching flip-flop-wearing grads turning up for interviews.

What do you think of this perspective on careers advice? Drop us your views and comments below, tweet us @career_geek, or write on our Facebook page. I will reply to each and every one of your comments. So go on, do it!

photo credit: Laurie Pink via photopin cc

About the author

Faizan Patankar

I started Career Geek Blog in 2011 to share my experience in job-hunting. I now focus on careers industry and blogging is just a tool to share that info. Love hacking careers. During the day I focus on my hobby - Engineering.


  • The whole premise of this article is based upon a misguided opinion of what careers advice is. The virtues being peddled by most governments do not constitute careers advice, which should be a guided process of learning and self-realisation. Of course you had to crack the code yourself – no-one else could crack it for you.

  • I agree with Rish – this article assumes that careers advice is no more than giving students jobhunting and CV tips.
    “Careers advice is useless unless YOU have a plan. YOU have ambitions”. Well I would say good careers advice / guidance is about helping you to discover your ambitions and create that plan (for yourself).
    I do agree that “we need to be careful about how we sell careers advice to students and graduates” – but I don’t think the problem is that we oversell it as some kind of “magic talk”, but rather that we undersell it – as in this article – as being just about information giving and CV checking. It can be, or should be, much more than this.
    Maybe this is just a quibble over semantics, but I would say it’s important for students to realise that there is more that they can get from careers services and careers advisers than just hints and tips that they could pick up on the internet.
    Funny picture, though

  • I can’t add much to the comments of Rish and ADBE Careers, The state that IAG is in is simply because the govt seems to think that careers consists of an interview and a website with some info.

    When society comes around to the idea that career development skills are as important as communication, teamworking or IT skills and need to be developed within the curriculum at school and at university, then we will truly have careers advice worth having.

    In my work I use the terms career learning and careers education. Perversely I think Gove might have done us all a favour in the long run by making us step back and look at what we provide. Let’s face it, it’s so bad now, it can only get better.