Important Notice:
This site has moved to, please update your bookmarks. If you were looking for a specific post, you can use the site search option, archives, or categories at the new domain to find it. Thank you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Brazen Careerist gives bad advice again

Once again, Brazen Careerist has run a post giving terrible job advice, written by someone who has no expertise in the topic.

Brazen Careerist started as a good idea -- a site where 20somethings can learn about career topics from their peers. It was started by Penelope Trunk, whose writing I admire and who I love to read even when I disagree with her. But while Penelope herself is smart and savvy, many of her writers over at Brazen Careerist aren't. The site has gone terribly awry and is clearly more interested in being provocative than in giving good advice.

The latest today is a post arguing that "don't burn your bridges" isn't good advice. The author argues that you don't need to worry about burning bridges when you leave a job because "cool jobs" won't require references (!), among other ridiculous arguments.

At this point, Brazen Careerist is routinely doing its readers a disservice by allowing people who don't know what they're talking about to dispense terrible advice to people who might take it seriously. I want to remove it from my news reader, but it's like a wreck that I can't look away from. I wish it came with a clear warning label on it though.


Lance said...

I loved your comment about the provocative over interesting or useful on Brazen Careerist.

In fact, that community spawned a post ( that I refer people to. It seems as though it is purposeful though.

Erin M Taylor said...

Tell me about it. I read that post and the poster seems naive and misguided at best.

I nearly choked on my morning coffee when I read that "cool jobs.." part - I'm sure that the poster is well versed in the reference checking process at cool jobs because of their extensive experience recruiting at a cool company - end sarcasm.

Even worse than the post are some of the comments cheering the poster on.

Anonymous said...

I wish I didn't agree, but lately - I do. I think some people are so concerned about being edgy and counter intuitive that they leave sense at the door.

Anonymous said...

I'm embarrassed to be in my 20s, simply because the writer probably is. Horrible advice.

HR Good_Witch said...

Holy crap. Or, as the 20 somethings would say: omg

Yes, that is bad advice. But, worse. It is a complete lack of understanding about how to handle oneself in a workplace. There's no inking of how to handle difficult situations. No sense of respect. No constructive communication. Just pure entitlement mentatlity. Makes me shudder.

Mel Vault said...

I'm in my 20's but not really embarrassed about it. That blog epitomizes Gen Y to the extent that it emphasizes family/friends relationships over "life is work" which I think is fine. But yah a lot of the advice over there sites a couple statistics they read somewhere and draws outrageous takes from them.

Rebecca said...

It's funny you respect Penelope, but didn't like my post. She helped me get my current job - and was in fact, "my reference." She recommended me and got me in the door of a company that doesn't talk to you unless you know someone. My previous employer couldn't have been that kind of reference. And I do have one of the coolest jobs out there.

I live the advice I give. It doesn't mean you have to. Different things work for different people.

Sometimes the point isn't to agree, but to provoke thought and promote dialogue.

That is, it wasn't the best advice for you, but it was for many other people. Besides, the blogosphere wouldn't be nearly as exciting if everyone agreed. And really, do you think you'd learn as much?


Norcross said...

While I usually enjoy what Rebecca has to say, I agree that this is misguided advice, if not completely wrong. Having had a boss at one time who has mentally unstable (i.e. bipolar without meds), I went through some serious shit without losing my cool. I left to pursue other things, and after a few years, I was able to come back.

And funny enough, while he was still crazy, I was able to see that a lot of it was my immaturity.

Ann said...

That is terrible advice! Even if you work for the worst manager in the world, your relationship with s/he is not in a vacuum. If you mentally check out of a job after giving notice or otherwise "burn bridges", you're not just doing it with ONE person. Chances are you, your actions will affect an entire team or department. And none of those other people will have very nice things to say about you, even if they truly understand why you are choosing to behave that way. Those affected are looking out for their own self-interests as well, and won't take kindly to you "burning" them.

It's truly a small world and the more people you burn, even with good cause or unintentionally, the greater the likelihood it will catch up to you.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I'd take career advice from someone that works for a "start-up company that sells toilet paper and trash bags"...sorry!

Anonymous said...

In regards to my previous comment she also prides herself on being "a dedicated job-hopper". Does anyone else think this is strange?

Ask a Manager said...

@ Lance - Oooh, I love that post. And yeah, I really do think it's purposeful and probably encouraged over there.

@ Rebecca - Thanks for responding. I'm not sure there's anything to be read into the fact that I like Penelope's writing and she's helped you. Penelope is very good at what she does, but I think a lot of writers at BC lately are trying to imitate her without having the chops to do it.

The fact that you got a job you wanted without needing other references doesn't really prove your point. You can always find a handful of examples that prove the opposite of a general rule; it doesn't mean the rule doesn't hold true the vast majority of the time.

Of course you can find people who welcome being told "don't worry about maintaining a relationship with that old boss who drove you crazy." That doesn't mean the advice is responsible or wise for most people.

I love the idea behind BC; I just wish you guys would get away from the mentality of valuing being provocative over being helpful/right.

Rebecca said...

To Anonymous - The start-up is Alice. The co-founders of the company sold their last start-up to Microsoft for $50 mil. I think they know what they're doing.

As far as job-hopping I readily acknowledge it's not the way for everyone. But for me, it's allowed some amazing opportunities. I definitely think people should find what works for them.

Rowan Manahan said...

It's a trend I've noticed too, presumably a linkbaiting tactic.

"This worked for me. Once." does not constitute good advice. As the man said, "By a process of elimination dishonesty must be the second best policy" - that hardly makes it a good idea that society wants to propagate.

I still subscribe to Penelope, but I find that the only posts I read closely ... are Penelope's.

Matthew said...

I don't see this as bad advice, I think it's a unique perspective on the old saying. The days of the reference are fading fast (in my opinion) and the point of her post (I think) was that if you are in a mutually bad situation, there's no reason to preserve the relationship for future benefit. I agree with that. All advice has to be taken with a grain of salt - but just for your reference, there was a post highlighted last week that was titled 'Don't Burn Your Bridges' which offered up the exact opposite advice.

Brazen Careerist, when all is said and done, is a fantastic smorgasbord of blogs and ideas from all ends of the spectrum. There is no 'stamp of approval' they put on everything to claim that this advice should be posted. It's all opinion, take it as it is, absorb and learn something, and move on.

Unknown said...

I think the bigger picture articles like this present to twenty-somethings in the workplace (or any other age group reading the BC blogs for advice) is that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and people will acknowledge them as edgy and hip, therefore paving the way for "cool" jobs in the future.

That may work occasionally in some fields for some individuals, but across the board it's not a true statement. You will eventually need references. That boss you hate might be the brother-in-law of a future employer at a "cool" job, and it would not be a Good Thing to leave a bad impression. Plus, that old boss you don't think will help you might turn out to be a wonderful asset if you take the time to get the best you can out of the situation.

And, I'm really sorry to break this news, but you can change jobs too much. I'm 31 and thanks to moves and following some not-so-great career advice, I have ten years of what appears to be administrative job-hopping to explain during interviews. I so wish now I had just stuck it out, sucked up my righteous indignation at NOT having a "cool" job, and just dealt with it. It's something I've learned and resolve to not do again. It's not as widely accepted as some folks might think.

The larger take-away I see is that although something may work for you as an individual, it may not always be good advice for the general public. Example: my first marriage was horrible. My second marriage is pretty awesome. Therefore, it's true that first marriages will never work. See the fallacy? (Although I guess if I blogged that I could get tons of link-backs, which seems to be the point.)

Kimberley said...

I totally agree. Brazen Careerist has become less and less of a career advice site.

Just another HR lady... said...

Hopefully people just read BC for the sensationalism aspect, not to search for real advice. I've never visited BC before this, but after reading a few articles, that was enough for me. :-)

jaded hr rep said...

And I often cry and wonder what the heck is wrong with 20 somethings entering the work force today. *sigh*

I looked up the "team" information on the blog, it scares me that they are writing for a blog that dispenses career advice. They are advocating the exact behavior managers and I find so frustrating at times, and I'm sure our junior employees who fall in their demographics are wondering why.

Kerry said...

I read Brazen Careerist for entertainment value, not for advice. The advice often gives me hives.

I do think Penelope Trunk herself is an amazing, gifted writer, even though I often disagree with her.

Anonymous said...

I am a 20 something in the workforce and I totally disagree with this silly BC post, and I am sure I am not alone.

It's really frustrating that a few misguided voices can really tarnish the reputation of the rest of my generation.

Please don't write us all off because there are a few loud apples.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your thoughts on the current state of Brazen Careerist.

Sometimes I read a post and sit there thinking "how the heck did this end up on the front page of a career advice site?" Like the post on trading sex for job opportunities or the post on why Argentinian tax havens are a good idea.

The real scary part is that most of the comments (on any post) are along the lines of "great post!" and "I totally agree!"

I'm starting to think that if I wrote a post about why Hitler was really great and why we should bring back fascism, not only would it make the front page but someone on BC would completely agree with me.

Ask a Manager said...

Interestingly, there's a post up at BC today making this point in a very different way:

HRD said...

Doesn't this represent the issue with the GenY phenomenon that has been created by consultants and unfortunately bought into by many in HR.

Lets see whether the same brazen approach stands true in 18 months time when the downturn has really kicked in and people are leaving University straight into unemployment.

RJ said...

I've only recently entered the blogosphere and I am aghast at the seemingly never ending amount of drivel written about career success and how to achieve it (although, I do acknowledge, there's some pretty decent stuff as well!). After almost 20 years working for Fortune 500 companies living and leading around the world, I can attest that burning bridges is career suicide! Period! Take the risk if you dare but it's a very small world! To those who gave this advice, shame on you! The job your readers will get behaving in this way won't pay their bills when they're in their 30's and 40's and they want more from life than what's "cool".

Ask a Manager...keep up the good work. Let's champion substance over form in the career advice blogosphere. What seems cool certainly does not rule when it comes to building a successful career!

Ben O. said...

Though I'm one of the original members of BC, I haven't posted a single career-related blog post in over a year.

Some of the articles are fantastic. Some are crap. Sift through the garbage to find the gems, and you'll gain something from it.

If you don't have the time to sift, read Zen Habits or something else instead.

Nagesh Belludi said...

I read through Rebecca's 'Bad Advice' article and the video post. Lack of career perspective and hiring experience is evident. I hope her audience can distinguish between bad and good advice.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I'd love to see a little more quality control at Brazen for sure.

Anonymous said...

Always a bad idea to have inexperienced people give advice to other inexperienced people. You'll have a bunch of clueless drones complaining how lame the job is. And who needs that in this economy?

Anonymous said...

I saw this article and wonder why these reporters keep giving attention to Gen-Y businesses.

Check out the comments in this article. Shoutle says Brazen kids stole the page from NYU alums.

Jonha said...

I usually disagree with Penelope's thought but I always find myself in the middle as I love the reasons behind her actions. I agree about the writers clearly uninformed or not properly equipped to talk about the topic but you see, everything has got to start with inexperience first.