You quit your job to open a cupcake bakery, because you love cupcakes. But then it doesn't take off — so you give up and go back to the cubicle mines.
It didn't have to be like that. Following your passion doesn't always mean turning your most beloved hobby into a job.
Instead, think about why you enjoy baking cupcakes. Is it because you enjoy the chemistry behind baking? Serving others?
As Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson put it: "The important point is to not just follow your passion but something larger than yourself. It ain't just about you and your damn passion."
In other words, did the world need another cupcake store? Or could your "passion for cupcakes" be expressed in a more constructive fashion that could help others while being fulfilling for yourself?
"You really SHOULD get your MBA."
We all know someone who insists that they should learn Chinese or get an MBA or start writing a novel.
Career and wellness coach Joanna Echols calls it "should-ing all over ourselves."
"It starts with an assumption that somebody else knows better what’s right for you and what you should do," Echols told Business Insider. "Claim back your personal power and let your own choices and decisions guide your job hunting process."
And, above all, even if you think you should go into business, you probably won't be very good at it if you're just there because you think you should do it.
"All you need to do is make your résumé better, then you'll get any job."
Leclaire said you can re-design, beef up the key words, and edit your résumé all you want. It's not going to make or break your career.
"That's just a small sliver of the pie," Leclaire said. "It's not what moves the needle."
She added: "Look at the big picture and take a holistic approach to your job search. Work on discovering and pursuing opportunities that fit you. Focus on your mindset, building relationships, networking, LinkedIn, job search strategy, your communication, maximizing your time, and more."
"Networking is so awkward. It's better to just avoid it."
We often view networking as a bunch of people in a room being "fake." But that's only if you make it so.
"Share a concise and transparent version of your story, ask questions, and actively listen," career coach Marc Dickstein told Business Insider. "Authentic curiosity is your ticket to a worthwhile conversation and a meaningful connection."
Leclaire underlined curiosity, as well. She said you should try asking people, "What are you focusing on?" or, "I'd love to explore how I can support you."
"These simple phrases take the pressure off of feeling like you need to sell yourself or have some polished elevator pitch every time you connect with someone," Leclaire said. "Go about connecting with people from a place of curiosity and contribution."
"You majored in Spanish, so clearly you're not really a numbers person. Better stay away from those business analyst roles."
People who believe that their abilities and interests are permanent are less likely to be interested in new information and fields, Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz recently reported.
For instance, you may have concluded that you could never go into programming simply because "your brain doesn't work like that." But you don't know if you would like coding, art, or some other field until you try it.
"If you apply to 30 places, for sure you'll get a job somewhere."
This is also called the "spray and pray," Dickstein said.
It seems smart: you increase your odds by just increasing the number of recruiters who have your application in their pile. But alas, recruiters can usually see through this — and they won't be calling you in for an interview.
"It's easy for recruiters to identify thoughtful applications that are tailored to the opportunity," Dickstein said.
"You should end your cover letter by saying, 'I will call you on the 12th to schedule an interview.'"
You may have been told that you should end your cover letter with a "call to action" — or, tell them that you'll be calling them to schedule an interview. It seems like a way to appear passionate about the position, while also guaranteeing an opportunity to explain yourself beyond the written word.
But don't do it.
According to The Muse's Lily Zhang, this cover letter line will make you seem "egotistical and possibly delusional."
"I have no idea where this (threatening) advice originated from, but ending your cover letter like this will not give the impression that you’re a go-getter who takes initiative," Zhang wrote.
"Hard skills are most important."
There's no denying that hard skills are important — but they're not all that's important. Maybe you know the right programming languages, speak Italian fluently, or can plow through projects.
Dickstein said those are all givens when you're applying for highly competitive roles. The next step: Showing that you're passionate, have the right social savvy to be a great leader, or are an amazing public speaker.
"You better buy a suit before your interview."
It's no longer the 1960s! You might not need a suit for every job interview (depending on your industry).
"Some of the most common mistakes people make when dressing for an interview are following old and outdated advice or not taking the time to do their research and ask questions about the company culture ahead of time," Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders, previously told Business Insider.
If you're interviewing at a start-up where flip-flops are more common than heels, it only communicates to your interviewers that you're not a good cultural fit if you appear at your interview in a suit.
So, Cenedella advised you call the company, your recruiter, or a contact there before your interview. Ask what the standard interview attire is.
"That job hasn't been posted online yet, so you probably shouldn't apply."
Maybe you caught wind that your dream company is opening a position that's right for you.
Don't hesitate just because there isn't a link online to apply, Dickstein said. In fact, that's really the opposite of what you should do — ask a contact or who you think is a hiring manager about the opening and how to apply.
"Hiring managers often know about functional needs and opportunities before they are made public," Dickstein said. "In many cases, recruiters begin to fill the pipeline early and even begin to screen potential candidates."
"Make sure your application is full of buzzwords!"
Buzzwords have become so overused that they've lost all meaning, Mary Lorenz, a corporate communications manager at CareerBuilder, previously told Business Insider. So, even if you are a "social media influencer" or someone who "thinks outside the box," that really doesn't mean much.
"Using some of these words won’t necessarily disqualify you, but make sure that you’re telling your story — not decorating it for the holidays," Dickstein said.
Go for action words that actually communicate what you did. Dickstein recommended words like "achieved," "negotiated," "budgeted," or "improved."
"It's just a job. Find something that pays well, even if it's not all fun and games."
You'll spend around 90,000 hours of your life at work. If you hate every passing minute of your job, that adds up to a lot of misery.
Looking for a new job can be the perfect opportunity to seek out something that aligns with what you want to do with those 90,000 hours. Don't just seek something that pays well — look for something that fulfills you.
"Your career choices can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing," Echols said. "Lack of job satisfaction or work-related stress are major causes of anxiety, depression and other mental and physical disorders."