Common Career Myths & Facts

Not all career advice is good advice. It’s important to let go of the bad ones so you can focus on the ones that can actually help you achieve a more fulfilling and happier working life.
Elliyani Mohamad Ali
Chief Editor, gradsingapore

It’s hard not to be swayed by inspirational platitudes on Pinterest or Instagram. Quotes like “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and “passion will pay the bills” resonate well with us because it shows that all we need is that one perfect, dream job and we’ll be forever happy at work.

Unfortunately, those who actually believe in these platitudes simply resort to job-hopping in the hopes of eventually landing that perfect job or quitting at the slightest thing they’re unhappy about at work.

News flash: That’s not a great start to your career. Happiness at work doesn’t just hinge on getting the perfect job; you must have the right attitude at the office and you must put in the hard work to succeed.

That’s not the only career myth though; check out some of the others and if you actually believed them, be prepared to change your mind.

Myth #1 - There is one perfect job for me. If I’m unhappy at work, it immediately means my dream job is elsewhere.

Fact: Sure, getting a dream job will surely raise your happiness bar in life. But every job requires a certain level of dedication and effort. You’ll still get occasionally annoyed, tired and stressed out in any job, even in a perfect one. That’s real life. If you’re able to get a job that coincides with your interests and skill sets while being in a non-toxic yet supportive environment, you have yourself a good deal. Don’t just flip the table at the first chance you’re vaguely unhappy about something.

Even if you’re not at your perfect job, it’s possible that your current workplace has the means to train and develop your skill sets that allow you to eventually get that dream job a few years down the road. Take it in stride for awhile and if you’re still not happy, at least you can quit with job experience and new skills sets under your belt.

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Myth #2 – I can be whatever I want to be.

Fact: There’s no guarantee that graduating with top honours will definitely get you the job that you want. Job availability can be pegged to the economy, the current job market needs, and even your network. Having zero Plan B if you can’t get that one job isn’t smart in this unpredictable job environment. You must keep up with industry news and what’s going on in the world so you won’t be too shocked or devastated that your chosen field is overly-saturated or that no one wants you.

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Myth #3 – My major will be solely based on the hottest field today.

Fact: If your chosen major coincides with the job that all employers are hiring right now, good for you, go on and sign up for that degree. Otherwise, don’t just pick the hottest field today and ignore your interests. The economy and job market are always changing. It’s worth a thought to look at job market forecasts and assess if there’s anything worth noting when you graduate. Maybe you’ll find an up-and-coming field that you’re interested in. But if you’re considering to take up a four-year degree on a subject you have zero interest in, stop. You’re not only torturing yourself studying it, you’re also wasting your time.

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Myth #4 – I must know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life before I even graduate.

Fact: Sometimes, you only know if a job is suitable for you when you try it out. For example, if you watch television shows and get swayed at how fun and exciting working in a hospital is, this may not be reality. It’s not about meeting good-looking doctors and dating surgeons; at the end of the day, it’s about saving people’s lives. This is where internships come in handy.

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Myth #5 – I only apply to big companies because they offer more benefits and opportunities for growth.

Fact: Actually, working at small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has its perks as well. Chances are, you’ll be able to wear a lot of different hats, which will allow you to pick up a range of skills you may not have the chance to otherwise. If you see an opportunity to work at an SME, don’t dismiss it just because you think they’ll not be able to provide you with better opportunities or benefits.

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In any case, don’t just depend on one element or criterion when it comes to picking your major or job. Do your research and take time to carry out self-reflection exercises to see what give your life meaning and a sense of fulfilment. Figure out how to start your adult life right. You don’t have to strive to be an astronaut or the next Steve Jobs to be happy. Ultimately, your career is just a job. Your sense of fulfilment can take place in many other forms in your life.