We’re pretty excited about How I Met Your Mother being back on telly this week. But when we started thinking about it we realised that it probably isn’t the best programme to be taking career advice from. In fact, when it came to picking five career mistakes that Ted, Barney, Robin, Marshall and Lily have made, we were spoilt for choice
1. Shouting at the boss. Now generally speaking, shouting at people isn’t a great idea. It often doesn’t achieve much and even Barney says that Marshall shouldn’t shout at his boss. But does Marshall listen? No, no he does not. And what happens? Marshall screams at his boss and quits his job. Not really an ideal situation. Instead, you should find another way of dealing with your emotions. That said, you probably shouldn’t take Barney’s advice when he explains the chain of screaming either.
2. Not speaking up when you know something is wrong. In one episode, Ted spots straight away that his boss’ building design looks quite phallic but he doesn’t say anything. This is a classic example (as far as plotlines related to phallus-shaped skyscracpers can be classic) of not being a team player. Admittedly, Ted’s boss isn’t a very nice guy and he gets his comeuppance in the end when the clients turn down his phallic design. Ted then offers an alternative, making him the youngest architect to design a skyscraper in New York. So, yeah, it turns out ok for Ted but remember, life doesn’t always reflect what happens in TV shows and you probably won’t be so lucky.
3. Having inappropriate things on your CV. In an episode where Robin has just seven days to find a job in New York or face deportation back to Canada, the others all realise they have really odd and out of date features on their résumés (or CVs, as we call them in the UK). Ted still has his student radio DJ gig on his, Marshall’s features his basketball dunking championship from when he was in high school and Lily’s, quite inexplicably, includes her victory at a hot dog eating contest. Let’s not make the same mistakes eh? Get rid of that Brownie badge in needlework immediately!
4. Mixing your social life with your job. When you’re at work, you’re there to do a job, not to mess around. Yes, work can be fun, and you should definitely try and find a job that you enjoy but it’s unprofessional to be messing around on company time. And it’s even worse if your messing around is aired to the public like Robin when she accepts money from Barney to say stupid things on air for money – even if it is really funny.
5. Letting your job change who you are. When Marshall starts an internship at Goliath National Bank, he feels really uncomfortable because the people he’s working with are really different to him and, rather foolishly, he takes advice from Barney and tries to act more like them at work. But his work persona starts to blend into the rest of his life and Lily really doesn’t like it. So the lesson to learn here is not to let that happen. Yes, you should try and get on with your colleagues – work will be a lot easier and a lot more fun if you do. But you shouldn’t do that at the expense of your personality. You should be yourself at work, it’s where you’re going to spend a large percentage of your time and you don’t want to spend all your time pretending to be someone you’re not.