How to ask people for career advice

Advice from others can be worth gold. Your parents can provide insight, your professors or teachers can have useful knowledge and it is always good to talk to someone who has more experience than you. What you stand to gain from just talking to people is immeasurable, but you have to be discerning with what they tell you. The career advice you take from them has to be good for YOU.

Here are three ways to help you test whether career advice from others is good and useful to you as an individual. Always keep these three questions in mind when others are giving you career advice.

  1. Does the advice suit you? Is the advice based on YOU? Is the person giving the advice interested in you? Are they focused on your interests and talents? Are they curious about what you have achieved so far in life and what your personal vision for the future is? You will gain the most from listening to someone who is concerned about you and your interests.
  2. Check WHY they say what they are saying. What are their reasons for giving you the specific advice they are giving? What do you stand to gain from following their advice? Listen to the person who can justify why they are giving you that specific advice. If the advice you are receiving is in the line of “You should do a master’s degree in economics” or “You should become a doctor” ask the person, WHY.
  3. Is the advice you are receiving “standard” advice? Some people think that a certain direction is always a good choice, for everyone. They tend to say things like “if you have the grades to get in, study medicine” or “there will always be a need for lawyers” or “do what you feel like doing”. The advice itself might be good, but if they ALWAYS give this advice to everyone that asks, it might not be of value to the person asking.

Asking other people for advice can be greatly beneficial to you and your career journey. If you follow the advice given here, you are sure to make the best of every interaction where people give you career advice. The ability to discern between good and bad advice is a crucial skill that anyone who wants a rewarding career should develop.