Pals in need, not in deed

2010-04-03 11:54

YOUR support network

probably consists of your closest friends and maybe some trusted family

­members.

You know these people

will help you out in any way possible – when you’re at your happiest or feeling

­defeated. That’s what friends are for, just like the words of that ­Dionne

Warwick song.

You know your friends

want the best for you, that’s why you turn to them for help. But a new ­survey

from The Creative Group finds that those closest to you might not ­always be the

best advice-givers, ­especially if you need professional opinions.

The

worst advice

Of surveyed advertising and marketing executives, 58%

say co-workers gave them bad career advice.

Bosses didn’t fare

much better, as 54% blame them for bad career ­advice. Parents and relatives are

better career counsellors, but 35% of surveyed executives received

unsatisfactory guidance from them. Thirty percent of spouses and significant

others are blamed for bad ­advice (and probably had to sleep on the couch at

some point). Mentors have the best record for dispensing advice, as only 21% had

the finger pointed at them.

As to why so many of

our nearest and dearest make such unreliable advisers, you could just chalk it

up to human nature. “Nobody’s perfect” might be a cliche but it’s true, and your

support network isn’t likely to sabotage you on purpose.

Well, sometimes they

might. Survey respondents admit that some of the bad advice they received did

more for the giver than the receiver.

“My former boss

discouraged me from going to work for a competitor, saying that I wouldn’t last

but I did,” says one executive. “I later found out that he had made a wager that

I wouldn’t join that firm and that was why he discouraged me.”

Another respondent

recalls: “A co-worker wanted me to take her job so she could take a new

position. It was not a good idea. I wasn’t ready to fill that job.”

Considering that your

career decisions affect your colleagues and boss directly, perhaps their

tendency to give harmful advice isn’t surprising after all. Donna Farrugia,

executive director of The Creative Group, cautions you to evaluate the motives

of the advice-giver.

Do’s

and don’ts

According to Farrugia, workers

seeking help can take some steps to get the best advice. She recommends keeping

these five tips in mind:

Seek

out experience

The

best advice comes from someone who has been in your position. Even if the

specifics are a little different, a similar experience will give the best

insight.

“For example, if

you’re looking to transition into a particular niche, talk to someone who made a

comparable change,” Farrugia says. “If you’re having trouble finding suitable

contacts, use social networks like LinkedIn to expand your reach.”

Follow

your own goals

Although friends and family may have

your best interests in mind, they don’t have your same professional and personal

goals. Remember to listen to their advice without forgetting what you want

yourself.

Explain

yourself

No

one can help you make the right decision if they don’t know what you’re looking

for in your career.

Farrugia explains:

“By describing your professional objectives and values to your acquaintances,

you’ll help them give better guidance.”

One-track

mind

Your network is composed of people

with different backgrounds and experiences, and even if they haven’t been in

your shoes, they’ve probably observed someone who has.

Don’t rely on a

single person for advice. Instead, talk to as many ­people as you can to hear

their opinions and then decide what best aligns with your needs.

Remember

your manners

“Thank everyone who takes the time

to provide career guidance, and keep in touch with all helpful sources,

returning the favour when you can,” Farrugia says.

  • This article appeared on the

    ­careerbuilder.com website




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