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You don’t know what you’re doing.

You thought you knew what you’re doing. You thought it actually might be somewhat doable to transition into that new job, new field, new whatever you want to do professionally. But all the stuff you’ve been trying for the past three months?

It’s not working. And today, it’s occurring to you: You need career advice.

You, naturally, begin by Googling every variation of “job search,” “best resume writers,” and “top career consultants” that you can possibly drum up. And you find, literally, a zillion options. And a zillion pieces of advice.

Made worse, now that your friends and family members know you’re considering a change, they’ve begun doling out more unsolicited advice than you can possibly digest in one sitting (or 10).

So, how do you tell if the career advice you’re receiving is good? More importantly, how do you steer clear of the ridiculous, reckless, or just plain terrible career advice as you navigate this challenging period?

If you’re worried that the help you’re getting might be bunk, here are four ways to detect that this might not be the very best advice for you.

1. The Person Giving Advice Has a Vested Interest in Your Decision

Your husband means well. But he may really want you to take the job that gets you out of work at 3:30 so you can pick up the kids. Your mom completely has your back, but she’s always been pretty nervous about everything in life, and may want you to follow a career path that doesn’t seem too risky.

When you ask certain people in your life for advice, always consider if they have a horse in the race, and what that is. And if you suspect the bias may get in the way of solid counsel, consider asking other people for their thoughts. Ideally, people who have no stake in the decision you make.

2. The Advice is Filled With Platitudes

If you seek counsel and the main gist of it goes something like, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” or “Follow your passion,” or “If it’s the right job, it won’t feel like a job at all?” Then you may want to sleuth out a second opinion. Platitudes, clichés, and positive mantras can all be grand if they light a little fire of motivation beneath your rear, but if that’s the crux of the advice? That’s probably not going to get you to the finish line.

3. The Advisor Focuses on Which Type of Paper Stock You Should Use for Your Resume

Run. This person was probably an exceptional career coach back in 1994, but much has changed as digital media has emerged and the world has shifted to online, well, everything. Don’t get me wrong—working with a seasoned advisor doesn’t automatically mean the advice is stale. Not at all. But if you suspect that the person has failed to keep current with how staffing and recruitment works today? You may wish to consider a fresher perspective.

4. The “Expert” Doesn’t Have Much Relevant Background

I’ve got a little secret: There is absolutely no barrier to entry when it comes to launching a career as a “career coach” or “resume writer” or “job search expert.”

That said, you will run into an enormous range of talent in this arena. How do you determine if you should trust the counsel of the so-called expert you’ve discovered on Yelp?

Check out the expert’s bio page or review her LinkedIn profile. What career path has led her to the position she holds today? Do you relate to, trust, and admire that path? If so, great. If no? Reconsider. The right career advisor for one may be the absolute wrong one for another. Trust your gut on this one.

While the sheer volume of career guidance available, both online and through the people you know IRL, can be overwhelming. But, if you decide on a short list of people you’re going to trust and follow as you navigate a career move?

You just may find the input both incredibly helpful and, in the long run, life-changing.

Updated 6/19/2020