If only we were taught in school how to find work we love.... I work with adults who are grappling with the big question of finding work that matters, some old enough to have children in high school. “Why don’t you teach this in high school?” I am often asked.
Career exploration at its most effective begins with an inventory of yourself. In high school, there is still a lot to learn about who you are. Off to experience the world is what I say.
Through life experience, it is what you learn about yourself you will use to discern what sparks you.
During career search, you will likely have come across some ideas that muddy thequest. Here are the top 8 myths that get in the way of you finding your best work fit:
Myth 1: Someone else knows the answer better than you.
Often when I work with people to identify their strengths, a pivotal exercise in work and job satisfaction, they are truly stumped. They frequently suggest asking close friends and relatives to assist with the task.
Since strengths are about connecting to what makes you strong (see strengths exploration here), no one else can really know for sure what your strengths are. How people can help you is noticing your behaviour. For example, you may notice that your friend’s eyes light up whenever they talk about a certain subject.
In our culture we are discouraged from stating our strengths. It is akin to bragging. Though you are expected to know your strengths, at job interviews for example, there are few places that help with getting to know what they are. No wonder we look to others for the answer.
The truth is that you will always know the best answer. The challenge is that it takes some unearthing and focus.
Myth 2: A career coach will tell you the best work fit for you.
This is related to the first myth. A good career coach will ask questions that help you dig deeper. They will keep you focused on those big inquiries like: who are you? what is most important to you? where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see career exploration as a discovery process where you look at all the pieces and then develop your own vision of what you want in your life.
Sometimes the challenge is getting a picture of the repertoire of occupations. Simply reading through a listing of occupations is an overwhelming task considering there are thousands in Canada. Your career coach can help you narrow down those possibilities.
The truth is a career coach walks alongside you for the exploration journey. Think of it as a collaboration.
Myth 3: The listing of “hot” careers is where you should focus your possibilities.
“Hot” careers are those listings determined by government to be the ones that will have the most labour market demand in the future. Stats Canada has projected demand in various occupations until 2031. Choosing an occupation based on this list ensures you get a job.
The challenge with the labour market is that it is always changing due to technology, changes in the economy and other influences. For example, there has been projections regarding baby boomers retiring but many have not left the workforce because they cannot afford to retire.
The truth is “hot” careers is not necessarily an accurate gauge of what is happening in the work world. Solely basing your decision on what is in demand can be fraught with later disappointment.
Myth 4: The right opportunity will appear for me.
Opportunities present themselves every day. Some you need to choose. Some you should not. Part of the challenge in life is figuring out which ones are which.
The problem waiting for the right opportunity to come your way is that it places the power of choice outside of yourself, and lessens the possibility of finding work that is alignment with who you are.
Where you can see this playing out is when people have been in a company or organization for a long time; the tendency is to promote from within so you may be offered a position as a supervisor but have little interest or strengths in being responsible for other people’s work. The allure of increased wages can take people in directions that make life miserable.
If you see people who are doing work they love, you will see they thought carefully about what they wanted and then worked deliberately to land it.
The truth is an opportunity is only an opportunity if it is what you want.
Myth 5: There is only one fit for me.
Once I began looking at work choices from an integrated, multi-faceted model (see the model here), I understood the matter was about using specific talents of mine; those could be applied to different types of work.
For example, being able to look at the big picture and seeing how different elements connect together is a talent that could be used as a healthcare administrator or teacher or owner of a business.
The truth is there are many fits for you but some fit better than others.
Myth 6: Once you pick a career, you are locked into it for life.
One of the trends in the career development field is selecting your education based on your strengths rather than a specific type of career because work is changing so rapidly. One expert stated the work a person will be doing when they graduate university hasn’t been invented when the child enters primary school.
Not only will you not be locked into a certain job for life, the probability is that you will change what you do several times during your career. The best way to prepare for change on that level is being clear about what it is you offer.
The truth is in the world of work, you can only count on more change.
Myth 7: Career assessments will produce the right career for you.
The short answer here is maybe. Career assessments are based on a variety of factors such as interests, personality type and skills. The most popular assessments have high validity scores and strong predictive results. Studies are based on real people doing the specific type of work so your results are compared directly to their responses. This increases the likelihood of you experiencing satisfaction in the work.
The challenge here is the complexity of being human cannot be integrated into a career assessment. For example, you may be well suited to work in the healthcare field but have a decided disdain for witnessing others’ suffering.
The great outcome of doing a career assessment is that it produces a listing of occupations, some of which you may not have considered. One of the features that I appreciate about career assessments is a listing of related occupations so if you don’t have time to go to school for 7 years, there could be other choices that don’t require that degree of education.
The truth is that career assessments can be helpful but you still know the best. After all it is your life.
Myth 8: Choosing a career is a simple process.
If choosing a career was simple, you would have done it already. Wouldn’t I have loved to be the type of person who knew at a young age what I wanted to do for my work? For me, finding my path was curvy, with lots of side roads.
For you, be assured that once you begin your journey, there is much to discover; listen carefully and it will point you in the right direction.
The truth about choosing a career is the process may not be easy but when you find your best fit, you will feel ease.