Whose Advice Should You Listen To?

As soon as my husband and I got engaged, people came out of the woodwork to give us advice on wedding planning. It was as if everyone who had ever gotten married or helped plan a wedding for their child felt that they were now an expert on wedding-planning. And yet many of them were fixated on details that we didn't feel were important for our wedding.

When you're job searching, you may find yourself bombarded with advice. Your friend wants to give you tips on how to send out multiple applications per day. Your uncle insists that perfecting your handshake is the secret. And your mother tries to tell you you're overqualified or under-qualified for every job you apply for.

How do you know who to listen to?

The best litmus test I know of is to look at the experience of the person giving you the advice. Their career should look like a successful version of what you want to do. Someone who has put their advice into practice and come out ahead is a more reliable source than someone who hasn't worked in a decade but recently read an article about the job market for millennials.

Is this person working in the same industry as the jobs you're applying for? Some advice is industry-specific and may not be applicable in your field.

Has this person been job searching recently? What worked for your dad to land his job 20 years ago may not be helpful for today's world of social media and strategic job-hopping.

You might look at the people in your network giving you advice and realize that none of them have the kind of experience that would make their suggestions relevant to your own job search. What then?

This is why informational interviews are so helpful. Not only are you expanding your network to connect you to available jobs, but you are also seeking out advice from the very people whose advice is going to be most valuable for you.

This doesn't mean that everyone you do an informational interview with is going to have the best advice ever for you. You still have to ask yourself the questions about whether their advice seems applicable to your situation. But seeking out these specific professionals will go a long way toward pointing you in the right direction in your job search.

Follow up: I love this post from the Ask a Manager site called Ignore Your Parents! They are forbidden from giving you advice.