Unsolicited advice

Why you should never give advice unless prompted.

Unsolicited advice is rarely a good idea.

A friend of mine was about to apply for a new job, so I offered to write a resume and a cover letter for him. Being a PR professional, I was convinced that I could help him stand out. He only had to say yes, and he did, so I went ahead and wrote a powerful job application for him.

Still, the resume and the cover letter wasn’t at all what he wanted, he said. He wanted something more conventional and what I wrote for him wasn’t not your typical resume and cover letter.

My friend politely thanked me for my effort and wrote his job application himself. In the end, he didn’t get the interview for reasons unbeknownst to me, but when I asked him about it, he made sure to clarify that he would’ve stood an even lesser chance if he had used my proposed resume and cover letter.

Another friend of ours, who had learnt about my effort, asked for my help to write him a job application, too. So I did the same thing; I wrote a resume and a cover letter to make him stand out and I combined it with a memorable and irresistible value proposition.

I have no idea what significance (if any) that resume and cover letter ended up having, but our friend quickly landed the interview (and soon thereafter the job). And he was grateful to me for helping him out.

After nearly two decades of consulting, I’ve learnt that it’s a bad idea to splash unsolicited advice far and wide — however well-meaning and valuable.

Always remember to be patient and wait for your advice to become need-to-have instead of nice-to-have.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer.

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Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.org/
Jerry Silfwer aka Doctor Spin is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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