Myths About Choosing a Career

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Embarking on a fulfilling career starts with knowing how to choose one. Making an informed decision involves matching your skills, experience, interests, and personality with the requirements for the career you're considering. As you're narrowing down which jobs might make a good fit, you're going to get lots of different advice based on conventional wisdom. As you'll likely discover, the hard and fast rules from the past don't necessarily apply today. What's more, some of the guidance you get may actually be based on myths.

How Much You Make Should Dictate the Path You Take

Although the salary for a position is important, it isn't the main thing you should consider when choosing a career path. If an entry-level position can help you get to where you want to go, you may benefit from making a base wage and working your way up. Perhaps you can land another position within the company or leverage the hands-on experience you've gained to move on to a new role at a different company. Plenty of successful people started their careers with entry-level positions and parlayed their experience into something more substantial.

You Should Have Your Path Completely Mapped Out

While plenty of people place a premium on knowing exactly what you want to do from a career standpoint, you can figure that all out as you go along and try out different things. Serial entrepreneur and motivational speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, who has a legion of followers online and has been highly successful in business, frequently encourages his aspiring audience to take advantage of their youth and try out different courses and even to fail. The learning experience while you're getting established can be invaluable. Nowadays, people change careers and jobs many times over the course of their lifetime.

You Should Meet All the Requirements Before Applying

Although your core skills should fit the fundamental job description, it doesn't necessarily have to be a perfect fit for you to be considered for a position. Sometimes the background and experience you bring can be bolstered by a unique perspective or peripheral skills that you might possess that could make you stand out from other candidates. Plenty of people have been hired on potential despite not meeting every single prerequisite.

You Have to Have a Mentor to Be Successful

On an interview with ForbesWomen writer Carrie Kerpen for her "Work It" web series, Cotential CEO Erica Dhawan explains why the idea of having a mentor is not essential. According to Dhawan, any guidance that a mentor gives you is shaped by their individual outlook and experiences and won't necessarily apply or translate to your situation or vision. The "Get Big Things Done" author says it's far more fruitful to follow your muse and to surround yourself with as many successful people in your career field as you can.

Everything is Online Now, Including All the Jobs

Although it is vital to have a strong online presence, you shouldn't limit your search strictly to the digital realm. There are still some employers who don't post their positions online and find employees with ads in newspapers or through word-of-mouth recommendations. In addition to being digitally-minded⁠—fine-tuning your resume and cover letter with keywords that cater to the algorithms set by search terms outlined by employers and recruiters on sites like LinkedIn⁠—it also doesn't hurt to pound the pavement or network with friends and associates.

You Should Rely on "Best Careers" Lists

Every year, especially during milestone years—at the beginning of a new decade, for instance—numerous publications publish lists of hot jobs. While it can't hurt to look at them to see if any of the careers appeal to you, you shouldn't use the list to dictate your final decision. Although the predictions are usually based on valid data, things often change. What is hot this year may not be in a few years from now.

A Career Counselor Can Tell You Which Job to Pick

Although a career development expert can advise you on what careers might be suitable for you based on your experience and disposition, you're the one that has to figure out what's right for you. Once you have pinpointed that, a counselor may be able to point you in the right direction, in terms of what training you will need to reach your goals and then show you how to embark on a successful job search.

You Have to Work in the Field to Know About a Career

While it's true that you can't know all there is to know about a career field until you hold down a position, you can learn enough about it to make an informed decision about whether a role is right for you without being employed. There are many ways to learn about an occupation, including reading reviews from the company's current and past employees on sites like Glassdoor, reading articles and looking at published resources, and conducting informational interviews.