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What are the 5 biggest career myths?

Erin Delaney

Careers Commentator

Talk to anyone about what you want to do with your career and chances are they’ll give you some kind of advice — some helpful, some not so much. There are plenty of opinions floating around out there, and now that we’re all online it’s easier than ever for advice to proliferate — including the bad advice.

You might have been on the receiving end of some of it, but just like Facebook and their mission to wipe out fake news, GradAustralia’s on a mission to wipe out bad careers advice!

Myth: There’s a perfect job for you

Fact: There’s no perfect job. But there are great jobs! It all boils down to what stage of life you’re in, what your interests and values are, and how you interpret the place of a job in your life. A job will never be everything, but it can mean the difference between a happy and an unhappy life seeing as you spend more time working than almost anything else.

Myth: I’m the only one that doesn’t know what I want to do yet

Fact: There are lots of people that don’t know what they want to do, well into their later lives. Some people know what they want to do from the minute they’re old enough to understand what a job is, while others find their calling in their golden years. I did my first year of law with a 90-something woman who had finally figured out that she wanted to get qualified and volunteer to help people in need understand their rights — she was far from finished. Life is long, and if you need to take your time while you get to know yourself and what you’re good at then you should allow yourself that time, because you’re much more likely to make a satisfying, long-lasting decision. In the meantime, try lots of new things and read our 5 simple steps to figuring out what you want to do.

Myth: I should just do what I’m good at

Fact: Your strongest skills should definitely be factored into your decision-making, but so should what you enjoy. There’s no point entering a career that you know you’ll excel in but will make you unhappy. You will work for many, many years before you get to retire and it would be terrible not to get to enjoy the majority of your life.

Myth: I’m locked into a career path that mirrors what I studied at university

Fact: What you study at university is only one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to settling on a career. You have to factor in what you’re good at, what you enjoy and the degree you’ve attained — especially if it’s a flexible degree such as arts, business or science. These degrees equip students with highly transferable ‘soft’ skills, such as research and critical thinking. It’s also a fact that many employers weight what you’ve studied equally with your work experience, co-curricular activities and company fit.

Myth: I should focus on a career that’s in demand so I’ll have job security

Fact: Current trends and future projections should be treated as what they are: signals. Present market conditions cannot be relied on to continue indefinitely, and projections can only be made on information currently available — so their usefulness runs along in much the same vein as present conditions.

For example, there’s currently a strong demand for teachers. Let’s say lots of graduates decide that teaching is a secure career and pursue it, and it leads to a glut of teachers in the market. Well, while there’s a demand now, if people pursued careers based solely on current market signals, we would have a demand and supply issue across the board as industries experience both feast and famine by turns. Choosing a career path has to factor in many signals, and future projections should play but a very small role in determining what you decide to do.