Deciding on a career path can be a complicated process. To make matters worse, you’re bound to run into a ton of bad advice, outdated clichés, and ridiculously simplistic maxims.
So you can familiarize yourself with the facts (and fictions) of deciding on a career, we’ve rounded up the worst job myths around. Read… and learn (or perhaps unlearn)!
Myth No. 1: There is One Perfect Job for Me
There’s a 99.99% chance that you can achieve success in any number of different careers. When you stop believing the Cinderella-Slipper Myth (a.k.a. the idea that there’s only one job that will fit you perfectly), you’ll be less stressed about getting it “wrong.”
As Cal Newport, the author of Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You, points out:
“Research shows that the traits that lead people to love their work can be found in many different career paths. They include things like autonomy, a sense of impact and mastery, creativity, and respect for your abilities. Once you recognize that these traits can be cultivated in many different fields, you can safely abandon the myth that there’s a single right job waiting out there for you.”
Myth No. 2: No Need to Think About My Career Until Graduation
Nope. Not even close. Today’s job market is so competitive that you’re sunk if you leave career planning to the last semester of senior year. Start early.
Myth No. 3: I’ll be Happy if I Pick a Job with a Huge Paycheck
Money is important—ideally, you should choose a career that will support the lifestyle you want to live. However, career satisfaction is not all about your bank account. Money is almost always a result of excellent work, and you can’t do excellent work if you’re in a job that doesn’t fit your interests, strengths, and values.
Myth No. 4: If I Major in English, I Won’t Be Able to Get a Job
Don’t choose your major (any major, not just English) without considering how it might impact to your future. Having a career focus in college can save you time and money. (Once you’ve explored career ideas, you may even realize that a different education track—like an apprenticeship or tech education program—is a better choice.)
Most liberal arts degrees don’t set you up on a vocational path. But majoring in a field like English can teach you transferable talents like how to communicate, write, research, and think analytically—critical skills for a wide range of jobs.
Myth No. 5: I’ll Only Have One Career; I Only Need one Career
Chances are, you will have more than one career in your life. More than half of people who have been in the workforce for 10+ years have changed professionals—and many have done it more than once!
Myth No. 6: I Will Be Successful If I Choose a Hot Job
Even if a career is the next hottest thing, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. However, you should do your research to figure out if a career is actually in demand. Are people hiring for this job? Is the general industry thriving? Check out the US Bureau of Labor’s employment projections to see if a career field is going places.
Myth No. 7: I Can’t Learn a Career Without First-Hand Experience
There’s no question: it’s great to get first-hand glimpse of what a gig is really like through internships, volunteering, or job shadows.
But don’t let lack of opportunities for in-person experience hold you back from exploring careers. There a lot of useful research you can do without setting foot in an office. Watch videos of people in a job. Check out online career resources (like us!). Set up an informational interview.
Myth No. 8: If My Friends Love a Job, I’ll Love it Too!
Fact: You are not your friends.
Just because a friend likes their job doesn’t mean you will. Learning about the career paths of people you know can be a good place to start looking for ideas. But don’t stop there. Take time to do your research, explore career options, and expand your knowledge of what’s possible. You’re an individual with particular values, interests, and strengths—look for a career that matches who you are.
Myth No. 9: Assessment Tests Can Accurately Predict My Career
Career assessments are great tools, but they rely on imprecise science. So don’t depend on them for a set-in-stone answer about your future. Instead, use these test as a jumping off point to learn more about yourself, your interests, and the world of work.
Myth #10: I Need to Follow My Passion to Be Happy
“Follow your passion and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is the Mother of All Career Myths. Even if you’re head-over-heals for your job, there will be days when you have to slog. Perhaps more importantly, there’s good evidence that following a passion isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. So stop stressing and listen to entrepreneur Penelope Trunk:
Career decisions are not decisions about “what do I love most” …they are about what kind of life do I want for myself.
So if you are overwhelmed with the task of “doing what you love” you should recognize that you are totally normal, and maybe you should just forget it. Just do something that caters to your strengths… and allows you to continue to grow.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Inside Jobs!