Don’t Let These Myths Keep You From Your Best Career Move

We know that jobs and the workplace have changed over time. Do any of these notions about your future sound familiar? If so, think again. Don’t let out-of-date attitudes get in the way of your future career success.

Myth: There is one perfect job for me.

Reality: Focusing on finding a single, perfect career is limiting. If you’re like most people, you will have several jobs and careers in your life, and each will have positive and negative aspects. Furthermore, your job preferences are likely to change over time as you gain experience, skills and self-knowledge. Keeping your options open is a position of strength, not weakness.

Myth: Most people start their career at 21 and proceed in a straight line toward their career goals.

Reality: Maybe a few people have experienced this; however, the career paths of most people are filled with zigs and zags and changes in direction.

Myth: There is a particular set of job responsibilities for every occupation.

Reality: On the contrary, people in positions with the same title often perform different tasks. The varying duties are due to the individual’s interests and capabilities along with varying needs from employer to employer.

Myth: I will use all of my talents and abilities in this job.

Reality: No one job uses all of your talents. And trying to find one that does will derail your job search. Learning a variety of tasks helps you sharpen abilities that might not be needed in one job but could be invaluable in another. Especially at the start of your career, you should expect to spend time acquiring experience and skills. This is one reality about careers that career counselors say many new graduates fail to grasp. Counselors remind job seekers to be patient. New workers should expect to start in entry-level positions and be willing to do routine tasks as they gain experience.

Myth: If I am smart, go to college, study hard and graduate, I will get a well-paying job in my chosen occupation.

Reality: Getting a well-paying job in your chosen occupation depends on many factors, some of which you have no direct control over, such as the U.S. economy, downsizing, competition, advancements in technology, etc.

Myth: My job has to match my college major or vocational training.

Reality: You need not restrict your job search to careers related to your degree or training. Most jobs do not specify which college major is needed, even if they require that workers have a college degree. Often, technical skills are applicable to many settings. Many workers learn the specifics of an occupation on the job.

Myth: Everyone should go to college.

Reality: Everyone probably needs some training beyond high school. Think first about what occupation you want, then find out what education is necessary to do that job. Remember desire and effort are necessary to be successful in post-high school education.

Myth: No one will hire me because I lack experience, have low grades, have gaps in my work history, etc.

Reality: People overcome all kinds of challenges to find satisfying work. Experts say that how you handle adversity is a good indicator of your ability to persevere. Need experience? Volunteer, work in a related occupation or focus on school projects that are relevant to your desired career. Low grades are the problem? Highlight other parts of your resume, and remember that grades usually matter only for that first job after graduation. Gaps in your work history? Overcome them with a well-designed resume that focuses on skills rather than chronology, and then get a little interviewing practice. For most entry-level jobs, employers are looking for general attributes such as communication skills, interpersonal abilities and enthusiasm.

Adapted from the Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Originally published on the Career Information System website.