By PREMA JAYABALAN
You need that MBA to make it big in business. If you are not creative, you will never succeed. You are in the wrong country; if you were elsewhere you would be rich by now. You can only be exceptionally good in one field. If you agree with any one of these statements then you may have succumbed to some of the latest career myths which may be hindering you from achieving success in your career. You have to stop believing these statements. True, the journey towards career bliss is never a bed of roses. In fact, it involves a rather winding road which at times can be filled with bumps and holes but that is the norm in the working world.
More often than not, people tend to make assumptions about their career based on external influences. These are inclusive of impressions one gets from family, relatives, friends, and people employed in various types of occupations, as well as from the print and electronic media. You must always remember that you can’t believe everything that you see or hear. Hidden within the information that you read, lie a good number of career myths that can pull you down the career ladder.
Career information that is misleading is often deemed as a career myth. People tend to believe in these stories because they lack alternative knowledge. Some examples of career myths are inclusive of the belief that you can’t make a successful career out of the arts, or teachers’ salaries are below average. The most common one is if you don’t have a degree, then you are not going to get a job that brings you lots of money.
Believing these false assumptions will prevent you from exploring your options when it comes to choosing your career. What everyone needs is a warning against some of the career myths which can be found out there. Here are a few of the common ones:
Myth: There is only one job out there which is perfect for you.
Reality: There are numerous occupations which have the potential to fulfil your career goals. Trying to select one job that provides complete satisfaction can limit you when it comes to exploring your skills and talents. Most people have had more than one job in their working lives.
Job preferences tend to change over a period of time based on the experience gained, new skills acquired and knowledge. Most people who reach retirement have had six to seven occupations throughout their working journey. Some of these jobs might be related to one another but there are fair amounts that are unrelated.
Myth: Your chosen career has to match your degree.
Reality: Unless you are planning to become a doctor, engineer, accountant or a job that requires specific skills, your degree should not determine a finite set of opportunities. There are lots of people who are working in fields that have very minimum or no connection to their degree. For example, you may have a degree in Chemistry but if you have the skills to write well, you can always opt for a career in journalism.
Myth: Most students have decided on their chosen occupation and, thus select their majors accordingly when they pursue their tertiary education.
Reality: Most people have a career or major in mind when they enter the university or college but only a few stick to their original choices. Quite a number of students change their majors after entering college and exploring the various courses offered in the institution. Some students don’t even know what they want to do when they enter a university or college. They get advice from various quarters, and then decide on their majors.
Myth: If you have a major in Liberal Arts, Performing Arts and Humanities you won’t get a job.
Reality: It is utterly wrong to believe that only professional courses and science majors can land you that dream job. A degree in Arts and Humanities has a lot to offer as well. Most of these majors emphasise communication, writing, interpersonal and critical thinking skills which are valuable assets which can be applied in an array of sectors. Many employers are seeking skills which are learnt in liberal arts. For example, having good communication and public speaking skills can land you a job as a newscaster, TV or radio host, trainer, master of ceremonies or a public relations specialist.
Myth: You will not be hired if you don’t have work experience, a low CGPA and have gaps in your work history.
Reality: There are employers who are hiring staff at entry level. They are looking for general attributes such as dedication, enthusiasm and good communication skills. Practise these elements. Prepare a good resume which highlights your skills rather than your work chronology. Remember that grades matter only for the first job upon graduation. After that it is about previous job experiences. Most MNCs have entry examinations prior to the interview and if you get through that, you stand a chance of nailing that job. Get some interview session practice as well.
Myth: You must have thorough knowledge and understanding of careers and the working world.
Reality: Most of the time, people’s knowledge of careers is incomplete or based on information gained from others. No one enters the working world fully-equipped with complete knowledge about jobs and careers. You learn along the way from the experiences gained and lessons learned from various occupations. This knowledge helps you assess yourself and helps you choose the career that you feel most suits you.
Myth: You will know the perfect job by doing career assessments
Reality: Career assessments play a role in helping you to a certain extent during your job planning process. However, they do not determine the right job for you. None of these tests, point provide complete direction about what to do with your life or which occupation to choose. Assessments make conclusions based on certain types of attitudes and knowledge. You should be careful with assessments. They can be taken as a guideline but you can’t solely depend on them to determine your career or job. At the end of the day, you know yourself best so follow your heart.
Myth: It is too late to change jobs
Reality: It is never too late to change jobs. Many people change jobs after years of being in the working world. More often than not, it is because the desire for job satisfaction outweighs the desire for the status quo. Some move jobs for better income or even improved career prospects. There are also many who have acquired quite a number of skills and feel that they are unable to put them to full use in their current position. Thus, they look for other opportunities that enable them to apply all these skills. For example, an engineer who takes up cooking as a hobby decides that he wants to make a profession out of it and chooses to be a chef.
Myth: Your choice of career should be based on your strongest skills.
Reality: Skills are just one element of a full evaluation. You can’t choose your occupation based solely on your skills without considering your values and interests. What you enjoy doing and what is important to you are issues that need to be given consideration when choosing a job. It is also not a given that if you are good at something then you will definitely enjoy doing it for a living.
Career Centre, Berkeley University of California.
FACTS ON JOB HUNTING DURING RECESSION
• Quite a number of companies hire freelance employees and consultants. It is true. They may lay off permanent staff but they need to get the job done so they hire freelancers. It is cost effective for them. Look at it in a positive angle, a freelance position gives you time to work at your own pace without the rigid office hours and enables you to take on more job offers which brings in more money. So there is no such thing as no one is hiring during recession.
• You stand to get a job even if you are an experienced employee. It is not true that companies only want to hire fresh graduates during this period. In fact, companies are reluctant to hire freshies because they need to be sent for training which costs money. During this time, they want to minimise cost thus hiring an experienced staff, who requires almost no training and has the ability to get the job done fast with minimal supervision, is much more beneficial for them.
• Don’t worry if you get retrenched. Don’t think that this will hinder in you getting another job. More often than not, companies don’t realise that you have been laid off unless you mention it. What matters is the way you handle the interview session. If you have the right skills, you can win them over. If the question about what happened in your last job arises, you can always answer it tactfully and diplomatically. After all, retrenchments during recession are common.
KNOW YOURSELF WELL
It is very important for you to know your own self before anything else. This can be done by listing your positive and negative qualities. You can also opt to take assessments and personality tests to help you gain this understanding. Before getting a job, get to know yourself by analysing these aspects:
Find out your traits and abilities and choose a career where you can put these attributes to good use. This will help you attain job satisfaction.
Understand your weaknesses and work on ways to improve them.
List whatever you like in a job and use this as a source of motivation.
Know your dislikes and try to avoid jobs that expect you to do tasks that make you unhappy. You will not be able to give 100% to careers like this.
Know your own personality and try to choose jobs that highlight and enhance the positive aspects thereof. This will make you shine at work and will be a great help in climbing the career ladder.
3 IMPORTANT MUST-DOS IN YOUR FIRST JOB
Use proper communication methods
Important information and messages should be conveyed to your boss first thing in the morning. Non-urgent matters can be passed on to him later. Bosses have too many things on their minds and don’t want to be disturbed with unimportant things. Gather all details and be tactful when you convey them to your superior. Use the time given to give them all the information without hounding them the whole day.
Talk less and say more
As an employee, listen more than you speak. Absorb everything your boss says carefully and keep your questions minimal. This shows that you are aware of what he/she is saying and need not be told the same thing more than once. Keep your words to a minimum so that when you voice your opinion and thoughts, it will have an impact and definitely be taken into consideration.
Be independent, try to learn as much as possible
Be aware of your work and know what is going on around you. Take the initiative to be systematic and organised. Be aware of what your boss needs. When he/she asks for something, make sure you can provide it to avoid embarrassment. If you do not have the answer, say you will look into it and get back to him/her within a time frame. This shows that you are dedicated and eager to learn.