At times, it can feel like everybody thinks they are a career expert. How can we cut through the noise and focus on advice that will be useful to us?
Dr. Daniel Goering, assistant professor of management at Missouri State University, set out to find the answer nearly four years ago. Recently, he shared his findings with the Harvard Business Review.
Finding contemporary answers to age-old questions
Goering and his colleague, Dr. Christina Li, assistant professor of management at the University of Oklahoma, connected on the topic of career advice during their PhD program.
Both had left blossoming careers in the private sector to become professors. Together, they became interested in the idea of career “fits” and what the career advice they had received over the years truly amounted to.
“Our hearts went out to our students as we began the research process,” Goering said. “A great deal of career success research was conducted before many of our students were even born and it focused on traditional career paths.”
“We set out to provide evidence-based answers for what advice is most likely to work for them in the contemporary job market.”
The effect of career advice on 63,000+ people worldwide
Goering and his team focused on four of the most common pieces of career advice identified by Sullivan and Baruch:
- Take your career into your own hands.
- Network outside of your organization and industry.
- Follow your passion.
- Be ready to jump at the next job opportunity.
The scope of the meta-analysis of all field studies available since 2006 totaled 175 independent samples of over 63,000 people around the world in various career stages and occupations.
A common theme of this list is self-motivation. But they found that the application of each piece of advice can have vastly different effects on an individual’s career outcome.
A winning piece of career advice
The team found “take your career into your own hands” to be the most useful piece of advice. They also found “network outside of your organization and industry” to be a great piece of secondary advice.
However, well-intentioned advice to, “follow your passion” is a mindset to be careful with. We must learn to strike a balance between passion and embracing opportunities and maintaining a healthy safety net, Goering explains.
In addition, “be ready to jump at the next job opportunity,” may set people up for failure in the long run. This fixation on finding better short-term opportunities may distract us from performing well and being content with our current job, Goering explains.
“The most helpful mindset to increase your odds of both objective and subjective career success is to have a mindset of self-accountability and ownership of your life,” Goering said.
“People who take charge of their own career and assume full responsibility for their outcomes are the most likely to succeed. The best thing someone can do is develop an entrepreneurial, self-directed mindset in their career.”