Looking for tips on updating your resume or how to react when a colleague takes credit for your idea in a meeting? In the past, most people would ask a mentor or career coach for advice. Now a growing number of people are turning to social media for career advice—and not just LinkedIn.
A recent study finds that Gen Z and millennials are more likely to get their career advice from TikTok than a mentor, with one in five making career decisions based on advice from TikTok creators.
TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat stories, Facebook and even YouTube are filled with career advice delivered in pithy soundbites and fast-moving graphics.
With fewer employees going into the office, there are less opportunities to seek out advice from a coworker or mentor. Our attention span is also dwindling due to Zoom fatigue, so fewer people are willing to sign up for an hour-long career coaching webinar, says Mimi Bishop, co-founder of Modern Gen X Woman and MGXW Consulting in Bayville, New York.
But before you put into action the career advice you find on social media, it’s important to consider whether that tip will work for you.
4 Tips for taking TikTok career advice responsibly
1. Research the source
It’s a good idea to find out who is giving the advice before you put it into practice. “Are they the real deal or are they just giving off-the-cuff advice?” Bishop says. If someone grabs your attention, they’re going to be in more places than just TikTok or Instagram. “We all need to be fine-tuning our critical thinking skills and not just taking what we see on social media as truth or fact or the only way to do something,” she adds.
Go to their social media profile and see how many followers they have, says Olivia Jaras, a compensation and negotiation strategist in Hanover, New Hampshire, and founder of HER Money School. Look at the comments to find out if this person’s coaching advice has worked for other people.
2. Consider the perspective
Career advice on social media often lacks context. “Be careful who you’re getting career advice from,” says Jennifer Tardy, founder and CEO of Jennifer Tardy Consulting LLC, in Bowie, Maryland. Too often the advice on social media is only from the perspective of someone who was recently hired, not from a recruiter or hiring manager. “Just because you have interviewed successfully doesn’t mean everyone else is sharing in that experience or has the same obstacles,” Tardy explains.
Everyone’s interview experiences are different, Tardy says, particularly if you have a disability or are a person of color or an older person. When Tardy sees incomplete information on social media, she will address it by creating a YouTube video that provides additional information. For instance, when someone shares advice and calls it a best practice, Tardy will share the perspective of a recruiter and explain why that approach might not work and how a recruiting manager might react. “It’s one thing to tell someone to make eye contact, but it’s another thing to explain why,” she says.
3. One size doesn’t fit all
Whether you get advice from social media, a career coach or from reading a bestselling book, there is no guarantee it will work for you.
Before TikTok and Instagram, Jaras says she read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Mika Brzezinski’s Know Your Value cover to cover. When she realized an intern was earning as much money as she was earning with a master’s degree, she decided to put the authors’ advice into practice.
“I took the advice all in, and I nailed down the perfect strategy that aligned with both of what those experts were saying,” Jaras says. But when she went to her boss’ office and asked for more money, he told her that she built a nice case for getting paid more but it was up to him to set her salary.
This story illustrates that not all career advice works for everyone, Jaras says, adding, “It just depends on the circumstances that you’re in.”
4. Don’t blame yourself
Although the advice didn’t work for Jaras, she didn’t blame herself. Instead, she was determined to learn more about salary negotiation and went on to write her own book, Know Your Worth, Get Your Worth: Salary Negotiation for Women.
If you take someone’s advice and it doesn’t work, it isn’t your fault, Tardy says. “It’s rare to look at our career coaches and friends and say the problem was their advice,” she says.
One of the best aspects of having so much career advice at our fingertips is we can decide for ourselves what advice works best for our own situation, Jaras says. Too often in the past, it felt like there was very little wiggle room to question or doubt the advice of a career coach or mentor.
Says Jaras: “You are 100% in control of deciding whether that advice is good for you or not.”
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