career mythsOne of the challenges of being a job seeker and finding career direction is being bombarded by advice from so-called experts. How do you know who and what to believe?

Unfortunately, these expert’s shoulds, needs and musts sometimes contradict each other. Accepted wisdom can also be overtaken by events. Like urban myths, their advice seems plausible but you wonder about their origins. They often come at you as sound bites and jargon.

My coaching instincts and experience suggest you are the best expert in ‘you’. Build your skill in being your own expert to make better judgements about other people’s advice and its applicability to you. That doesn’t mean ignoring professional support because a good career counsellor will point you in the direction of helpful resources and ask the right questions to help you find your way. However, use your critical skills in engaging with the mountain of online advice out there where the origins maybe dubious. Do your research and use your judgement.

Here are some common career viewpoints and jargon for you to filter through your critical and emotional faculties. Think about which ones make you feel uncomfortable and why:

  1. Everyone has a ‘dream career’.
  2. There is one perfect job or one right career out there for you.
  3. You should follow your ‘passion’.
  4. You need a ‘personal brand’.
  5. ‘Sell yourself’ to win the job.
  6. Your qualifications dictate your job and career.
  7. Changing careers means losing your hard won skills and experience.
  8. There is a ‘test’ or expert out there that can tell you the right job or career to follow.
  9. You must have a career plan.
  10. There are no ‘career ladders’ anymore.
  11. Your job will be automated in the future.
  12. Your generation is ‘lazy/entitled/inflexible/not open to change’ etc (pick a stereotype).

What do you agree and disagree with or simply don’t know? What would be your own truths if you had to write what fits your unique situation and stage in life?

The other kind of career myth story is the one we tell ourselves for self-protection, often to maintain the illusion of certainty. We fear the truth will hurt if the wall we build to protect ourselves comes crumbling down. Those walls can be personal myths about what you can and can’t do, what you are willing or unwilling to do. Many are based on faulty assumptions. Do any of these ring a bell with you?

  • I have to stay because people depend on me here.
  • I am not good enough. Other people are better than me.
  • The people that matter to me must approve everything I do.
  • It’s my problem, so only I can solve it.
  • It’s the system/employer/recruiter/interviewer etc that is the problem.
  • I’m tool old/out of date/too young/inexperienced.
  • There are no jobs for people like me.
  • I can’t change/learn something new because…

Which ones do you identify with? What would be your own truths if you replaced them with what you really know to be true? How would you feel then? What would you do next?

Making your own judgements and creating your own truths are liberating ways to take the mystery out of career myth stories. Have a go!

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