Busting some adult career myths

Some ideas linger. They may be past their use-by date, yet remain in circulation, distorting thinking and leading people astray.

Some ideas about careers for adults linger, even though they are no longer applicable to today’s circumstances. Here are eight ideas that fall into this category.

Myth 1:The only people that need help with making career decisions are school children.

Myth busted: People may need help with making career decisions across their life span. Changes, both planned and unanticipated, may mean that people need to change jobs, change occupations, change companies. People move in and out of work due to parenting, caring responsibilities, redundancy, illness or injury. These times of transition may also call for help from career services.

Myth 2: Making a career decision is simply a matter of matching skills to jobs.

Myth busted: Making a career decision is much more than a simple matching process. A range of factors about a person including their values and interests, their family circumstances, their cultural background, their environment need to be considered in making a decision.

Myth 3: Completing an online tool that identifies the types of jobs that match my skills and qualifications is all I need to do to make a career decision.

Myth busted: While online tools are useful in identifying possible jobs, the process of making a career decision involves considering a range of factors. Career professionals are skilled in helping people interpret a variety of information in order to make a decision.

Myth 4: I completed my training post-school. I don’t need to do any more.

Myth busted: Workplace demands change rapidly. Employees need to stay current by updating their skills, retraining, completing further qualifications in order to remain employable.

Myth 5: I only need to look in the papers to see what jobs are available.

Myth busted: Newspaper advertising is expensive. Most jobs are not advertised in newspapers. Job seekers need a more sophisticated approach to job searching that takes into account online job sites, social media, and unadvertised jobs.

Myth 6: The company should look after my career.

Myth busted: While some organisations do take steps to help their employees’ careers, the current perspective is that it is the individual’s responsibility to manage their career.

Myth 7: I only need think about jobs when I need a change.

Myth busted: Managing your career is an ongoing process. Only thinking about your career when you need a change is likely to make the process more painful because you will be unprepared. Your resume may be out of date, you may leap at whatever comes up rather than considering your circumstances, and you may find your skills are out-of-date.

Myth 8: When choosing jobs I only need to consider what’s of interest to me, how my skills match and how much it pays.

Myth busted: There are many factors to consider when choosing a job. A holistic approach is needed to consider your whole life circumstances, including the impact your decision will have on other important people, such as your family.

Subscribing to any of the above myths may well impair career decisions. Managing your career means developing several skills. These skills are identified in Australia’s career development Blueprint:

1. Build and maintain a positive self-concept
2. Interact positively and effectively with others
3. Change and grow throughout life

4. Participate in lifelong learning supportive of career goals
5. Locate and effectively use career information
6. Understand the relationship between work, society and
the economy

7. Secure/create and maintain work
8. Make career-enhancing decisions
9. Maintain balanced life and work roles
10. Understand the changing nature of life and work roles
11. Understand, engage in and manage the career-building process

You can search for a professional career development practitioner on the Career Development Association of Australia’s website.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.