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Ten Myths About Choosing a Career

Forget What You've Heard About Choosing a Career

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Woman at a computer with coworker Klaus Vedfelt/Riser/Getty Images

Do you think you know everything about choosing a career? Many people think they know the right way to go about picking an occupation, but they often wind up choosing a career that is unsatisfying. Here are ten myths of choosing a career along with resources that can help you make an informed decision.

#1 Choosing a career is simple

Actually, choosing a career is an involved process and you should give it the time it deserves. Career planning is a multi-step process that involves learning enough about yourself and the occupations which you are considering in order to make an informed decision.
More: Choosing a Career: The Career Planning Process

#2 A career counselor can tell me what occupation to pick

A career counselor, or any other career development professional, can't tell you what career is best for you. He or she can provide you with guidance in choosing a career and can help facilitate your decision.
More: Get Career Advice From a Pro

#3 I can't make a living from my hobby

Says who? When choosing a career, it makes perfect sense to choose one that is related to what you enjoy doing in your spare time, if you so desire. In addition people tend to become very skilled in their hobbies, even though most of the skill is gained informally.
More: Make Your Hobby Work for You

#4 I should choose a career from a "Best Careers" list

Every year, especially during milestone years, i.e. the beginning of a new decade, there are numerous articles and books that list what "the experts" predict will be "hot jobs." It can't hurt to look at those lists to see if any of the careers on it appeal to you, but you shouldn't use the list to dictate your choice. While the predictions are often based on valid data, sometimes things change. Way too often what is hot this year won't be hot a few years from now. In addition, you need to take into account your interests, values, and skills when choosing a career. Just because the outlook for an occupation is good, it doesn't mean that occupation is right for you.

More: 10 Reasons Not to Rely on Best Careers Lists

#5 Making a lot of money will make me happy

While salary is important, it isn't the only factor you should look at when choosing a career. Countless surveys have shown that money doesn't necessarily lead to job satisfaction. For many people enjoying what they do at work is much more important. However, you should consider earnings, among other things, when evaluating an occupation.
More: Salary Surveys

#6 Once I choose a career I'll be stuck in it forever

Not true. If you are unsatisfied in your career for any reason, you can always change it. You'll be in good company. Many people change careers several times over the course of their lifetimes.

#7 If I change careers my skills will go to waste

Your skills are yours to keep. You can take them from one job to another. You may not use them in the exact same way, but they won't go to waste.
More: Transferable Skills

#8 If my best friend (or sister, uncle, or neighbor) is happy in a particular field, I will be too

Everyone is different and what works for one person won't 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 interests you, look into it, but be aware of the fact that it may not necessarily be a good fit for you.

#9 All I have to do is pick an occupation... Things will fall into place after that

Choosing an career is a great start, but there's a lot more to do after that. A Career Action Plan is a road map that takes you from choosing a career to becoming employed in that occupation to reaching your long-term career goals.
More: Career Action Plans

#10 There's very little I can do to learn about an occupation without actually working in it

While first hand experience is great, there are other ways to explore an occupation. You can read about it either in print resources or online. You can also interview those working in that field.
More: Exploring Occupations

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