AS a career coach, I am often amazed by the myths my clients hold to be true. I wonder whether these beliefs stem from naivety or pure ignorance. Perpetuating these myths as truths can be detrimental to your career journey or job success.
The key to avoid falling into the "career myth" trap is to talk to an authoritative or experienced professional in people management, career or human resource development. Make it a point to review your career with someone well-qualified and knowledgeable about career matters or vocational development on a periodic and regular basis.
Let me share some of these common myths and try to dispel them.
1. "A good university degree is a guarantee for getting a good job."
Few job hunters realise it but many employers usually stipulate a university degree or a polytechnic diploma in their job advertisement purely to limit the number of applications they will receive.
Employers generally use degrees and diplomas as an indication of the candidates' intelligence - an ability to think objectively, logically and critically. It is also a measure of the ability to comment, evaluate and make observations. This is then tested at the interview by appropriate questioning and discussion.
Often, employers are looking for the right expertise, experience, personality and competence. Understand what the selection process is all about before assuming that a degree or diploma is the sole consideration. More importantly, craft your resum in a manner that will demonstrate your potential in the context of the job scope.
2. "This must be a good job as the pay is high."
What constitutes a good job is debatable. Often, a job with an attractive remuneration is assumed to be a good job. This is sometimes far from the truth. Candidates need to check out what the job entails - maybe the high pay is to compensate for particularly high pressure or stress levels you will face. Or there are certain performance indicators you have to meet in a very short time on the job or you are out the door.
Before you call a job "good", be clear in your own mind what will be a good job for you. Don't look just at pay. Look at how you will you grow in the job and progress in your career. Explore the opportunities it will offer in years to come. Research has shown that more people leave their jobs because of bad bosses or nasty colleagues, rather than unhappiness with pay.
Some employers offer higher remuneration simply because of the challenge in the job or the "hardship" of long hours, disruption to your family or personal life or the need to deal with difficult or exacting customers or clients. Always understand why the employer is offering higher pay than the market median for the job.
3. "My dream job will be fantastic!"
Ask yourself if you are drawn to your "dream" job because it promises glamour or hype. Look carefully at what is really needed in that dream job. There are many jobs where employers are looking for the right experience, ability and personality; and it can still be a dream job. Therefore, spend time "researching" the employer's needs before you apply for that job.
Dream jobs can often turn out to be a nightmare. For example, a client of mine admitted that he took on a job with a start-up company because it required travel in the region. He assumed travel would generally involve business class tickets and accommodation in five star hotels. It did not take him long to realise that most start-ups keep a tight lid on expenditure. Even his boss would choose the most inexpensive option.
My client has moved on, wiser for the experience. He realises that a dream job is one where you are a good fit with the environment and the job itself. As he now readily admits, that "dream" job will always remain elusive. Being flexible and open to adjusting to new situations are critical if you want to be happy in any job.
Many of these myths are started or perpetuated unwittingly by people who know little about people management and career development.
If you want to manage and develop your career to its fullest potential, you need to engage actively in career development activities, including reading books and articles about career management, finding a mentor, learning from a career coach and attending career-related workshops, lectures and talks.
Find out more about different jobs through career exploration. Never be stuck in the "IKIA Syndrome", which affects those who think, "I Know It All". There is always more to be learned from the experience of others - whether they are your peers or superiors in the workplace or professionals and career experts outside it.