Career Myths: Part 3 (11-15)

Myth 11: Changing Careers is Nearly Impossible

Gone are the good old days when people entered one company and then retired from there probably after 30-35 years. Now a days it is taken for granted that change is inevitable. If anything is constant, it is change. While you can never know 100% that you are making the right choice at any given point, your goal should be to make the best choice. Then, continue to evaluate and re-evaluate your choice. Your first choice of career may not be your final decision or your final choice. If you are unsatisfied with your job or the specific career field for any reason, you can always change it. Career planning is an ongoing and never-ending process.

People continue to change throughout this life. So, priorities, values, and interests also change with time. In the recent years, so does the job market. Hence, as you evaluate your career plans and priorities, it is natural to change careers to take care of your priorities. In recent years, experts predict people will make an average of 4 career changes. That is, people will work for atleast 5-6 different companies by the time they retire. Many graduates work for two to three years and then pursue management courses as a way to enhance their skills and change careers.

You may currently be working in one particular field, wanting to change your career. If you have decided to make a switch only because of some minor problems you are facing in your current job, you have made a wrong decision. You should invest your time trying to look for the solutions to the problems you are facing. Else, you may have time only to run away from problems. Change careers only if you feel that you are not happy with your career choice and you don’t want to continue with it.

Changing careers is not easy, but it is not difficult either. As the workplace continues to change and evolve, more and more people have started changing careers. In most of the cases, the people realize that they don’t like what they are doing only after getting into the job. If they get a chance, they move on to the careers of their choice. Nothing wrong in doing that. As long as you have a plan and do your best to stick with it, you should try and switch careers.

You can compare career to marriage. Earlier people were tolerant and patient. They made efforts to save their marriage by trying to make adjustments and changing priorities and their way of life. Now, they say that they are incompatible and are not made for each other. So they get separated and move on. The luckier ones find better life partners. Similarly, people change jobs without trying to find the root cause of the problems or trying to solve problems. The luckier ones find a good work place.

It takes much effort to switch careers and you may need to get related certification or training, get relevant experience in the new career field, and focus on how the skills you currently possess transfer to the new career field.

Myth 12: If You Change Careers, Your Skills Go Waste

You may be concerned about changing careers after 4-5 years (or more) of work experience in a particular field because of many reasons; your skills go wasted, or not wanting to join in a junior position, or because of the fear of loosing your seniority. If these are the reasons that is stopping you from making a change, don’t change careers. As simple as that.

But remember that these days the age old concept of equating the number of years of experience to seniority is no longer valid.

    • Your skills and experience will be wasted.

The fact is, your skills are yours to keep. Though you may not use them in the exact same way, they won’t go to waste. You can take them from one job to another. Any previous experience will be valid in terms of the soft skills (communication, team spirit, leadership qualities, maturity in making decisions, etc.) which will help you to get faster promotions if you are good at work. You don’t have to be close to the top of the ladder when you enter the profession. It is up to you to positively use the non-related work experience to quickly climb up the professional ladder.

    • You don’t want to join as a trainee or at a junior position.

Most of the time you have to, for the very simple reason that you will be learning the basics of the job just as the others. The same amount of time and effort will have to be dedicated to you for training (the concepts, process, procedures, tools, etc.). This is even more evident if the work experience you have is in no way related to the job you have applied for.

    • You feel that you will lose your seniority at work.

In a senior position, you are expected to make important decisions about the project, which can make or break a project.

      • Making wrong decisions, when you consciously think that you are right may cause a critical situation. Relevant experience, having the skills required for the job, and the work related knowledge helps in making the right decision at critical stages of the project
      • These days, seniority is decided based on the knowledge, relevant experience, and skills you have.
      • Seniority also depends on other personal skills like being a team player, mentor, leader, and a good performer to name a few.

Myth 13: Others are Happy, You Will Also Be

Everyone is different—they have different tastes, likings, d dislikes, attitude, and personalities, among other things. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another, even if that other person is someone with whom you have a lot in common. If someone you know has a career that seems interesting to you, first understand it, read about it, research it, and analyze it. Then, check if it suits your interests. You may like it, but there are chances that it may not necessarily be a good fit for you.

Example: Ravi’s close friends work in IT field—software development, software testing, usability testing, and web development. They all enjoy their work. Ravi has done his graduation in commerce and has always wanted to become a charted accountant.

After hearing the various things his friends had to say about their work, seeing the kind of salary they get, noticing that they did not mind working late hours, and the frequent over seas trips they made, Ravi decided to try his hand in the IT industry. He enrolled himself for a course in software testing. After completing the course, he spend about a year looking for suitable jobs. Finally he got a job in a well-known organization.

Now, it has been more than a year, but Ravi is not at all happy with his work, the job profile, the work culture, and the work pressure. He now hates all that he earlier liked about the IT profession. He feels that he took the wrong decision and worse still, he feels that his friends did not give him the right picture about the work and the job profile.

Though they all were good friends, it was not necessary that Ravi would like what the others liked doing. This is a universal problem. There are many rewarding and satisfying careers. Evaluating potential careers can be an exciting process. Try to fully explore all the possibilities and make a decision based on what would offer you the most satisfaction.

Myth 14: You Should Choose the Occupation That Is In Demand

Occupations are in demand because of the market requirement at a given point of time. You should not blindly follow the occupation that is in demand if you don’t enjoy doing it. What you enjoy and what is important to you about life and work should also be taken into consideration. Remember the dot.com boom in the late 90’s that led to a bust just a few years later, leaving thousands of people jobless? Predictions about jobs are usually made regarding the most wanted jobs based on the information collected form various dependable resources but then, things can change. There is a time lag between the demand for certain kinds of occupations and the response to this demand.

Example: These days, there is a need for nurses in the US and in UK. The demand outstrips the supply with a resulting increase in salary, fringe benefits, and opportunity as employers compete for the limited supply of trained nurses. The students feel that there is an increased opportunity for them to go abroad and make money in this field and hence opt for nursing.

By the time they graduate, the job market may become flooded, and the supply may exceed the demand. So, the bubble will burst and many will become disappointed because they will be competing with thousands of nurses who came into the field with the same idea as they did. Those who opted for nursing because of interest will be happy working in the local hospitals.

This kind of changing demand and supply situation can happen with any occupation. Remember the kind of frenzy created by medical transcription about a decade back? Nonetheless, job outlook trends can be useful information if used cautiously and not as the only factor in your career choice. The job market fluctuates constantly and employment opportunities can change dramatically as a function of economic conditions, advances in technology, and the labor supply changes. Most often what is in demand now may not be 5 years from now or the vice-versa.

Myth 15: Money and Status Reflects Success

Money and status are very appealing and there is nothing wrong in wanting to achieve these goals. However, be careful not to compromise your values as you consider potential careers. While salary is important, it is not the only factor you should take into account when choosing a career. Surveys have shown that money does not necessarily lead to job satisfaction. For some people making a contribution to society is more attractive than earning a large income.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

—Albert Schweitzer

    • Contrary to what you may think, high salary doesn’t necessarily equate to a high level of job satisfaction and personal happiness
    • There are people who get a low salary in comparison to their friends or peers in the same field, but have highly satisfying job. For such people enjoying what they do at work is much more important. So, they opt for a better job profile that gives them responsibility and flexibility at work. Not commanding a high salary does not mean that they are not successful.
    • Try to balance your salary requirements with a career that you feel confident will utilize your skills and abilities. As you evaluate career choices, think carefully about what success means to you.
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