Career Myths and Realities

There are many myths related to career and job opportunities. These myths, which are misconceptions, have been exposed by counselors and psychologists giving the clients a realistic and true picture, writes AMEEN-E-MUDASSAR who presents some of these myths and realities in the following article.



A myth is a story/ perspective of an individual/group that may or may not be true. Generally myths are old, man made without having any valid support what they promote or claim. There are many myths related to career and job opportunities too. These myths which are misconceptions have been exposed by counselors and psychologists giving the clients a realistic and true picture. Here are some Myths and realities that can help students, parents and teachers in developing a rational, logical and realistic approach towards career exploration and selection process.

Myth #1: I should be on the same track as my friends

Reality: Friends are always there with you. But that does not mean you have to follow where your friend goes. You must evaluate all career opportunities, find the most suitable ones for you and not what is good because its good for your friends. There will be pressure from friends but you must have control over your decision. It’s your future.

Myth # 2: I should choose a career/ job based on my strongest skills.

Reality: Skills definitely matter a lot when deciding on what career to select. But considering only your skills and not taking into account your personality type, your interests, your likes and dislikes and what satisfaction you wish to derive. Just because you are good at something does not mean that you will enjoy doing that activity for a living. Also, relying on your current skills does not take into account the skills you may have in areas to which you have not yet been exposed.

Myth #3: There is one perfect career/ job for me.

Reality: There is no one perfect career or job for an individual. In fact, one individual has the capacity to do several jobs and what he likes and enjoys, he does it again and again. Hence one must always keep the options open because the future is unpredictable and change in attitude, likes and dislikes can happened in course of time. It’s wise not to “marry” an occupational goal, but rather stay open to alternatives. Instead of saying to yourself, “I want to become a doctor,” try saying “I want to explore a career in medicine. I’ll give it my best shot. If I get any better ideas along the way, I’ll stay flexible.” Most successful people carefully planned their careers.

Myth #4: I will have only one career in my lifetime.

Reality: Change is the only permanent thing. It’s inevitable. Career planning is an ongoing, never-ending process. You will have to refresh, rethink, readdress and redesign your window of opportunities. What looks now a green pasture might be a desert tomorrow. Also the change in this world is so fast, new and exiting careers are evolving every day. What is important is to find an occupation that will be rewarding; it is not likely to be a final decision. While you can never know 100% that you are making the “right” choice at any given point, your goal should be to make the “next best choice” for now, and continue to evaluate and evaluate that career once you’re in it.

Myth #5: If I wait for a long duration, luck will eventually bring me to the right career.

Reality: A proper career plan is the launch pad for a promising and satisfying career. You simply cannot find your perfect career or occupation by chance. Successful people in this world have always planned their careers, work hard to achieve their goals. In the process lady luck followed them rewarding their hard work and smart work. Look around you – those people who are unhappy in their careers most likely just ‘fell into’ something without careful planning.

Myth #6: The best career for me is ‘xyz’ because there is a great demand for trained and qualified people in this industry.

Reality: The job market fluctuates constantly. Employment opportunities can change dramatically as a function of economic conditions, advances in technology, and the labor supply. Although projections are available from information resources, this data should be used with caution. There is an inevitable lag time between the demand for certain kinds of occupations and the response to this demand. For example, today there is a huge demand for qualified nurses. The demand outstrips the supply with a resulting increase in salary, benefits, and opportunity as employers compete for the limited supply of trained workers. Now if a student decides to become a nurse just because of this increased opportunity there may be disappointment later because he/she will be competing with thousands of people with the same idea. This situation arises when job market becomes flooded, and the supply now exceeds the demand. This kind of changing demand and supply situation can happen with any occupation. Nonetheless, job outlook trends can be useful information if used cautiously and not as the only factor in your career choice.

Myth # 7: Somewhere there is a test that can tell me what to do with the rest of my life.

Reality: No test can tell you what career to select, what will be your future and what if and what not. A career test or an aptitude test provides some of the information that aids in career planning, but not all of it. Taking up a career interest test or any psychological test which you feel will help you in deciding career, is good only to the extent of giving you hints and not complete solutions.

Myth # 8: Let me acquire highest education, I will get the best job. Work with the best people.

Reality: Acquiring education is primarily to acquire knowledge. Getting a good degree does not mean getting the job you want. A promising career is a combination of your education, life skills, personality, ability and your vision for life. Hence acquiring even a doctorate PhD will never help unless you know what you are and understand the world around you.

Myth # 9: My family and friends know me. They can help me choose the right career.

Reality: Only you know what is best for you. What others say is best for you is often a reflection of their value system, not yours. Your parents though know you from birth also are unaware of your hidden potential and talents many a times. Your friends who like you, hang around with you and you spend hours of non-stop chatting but still their interpretation about you will be not authentic but more driven by materialistic factors.

Myth # 10: Somewhere there is an expert who can tell me what to do.

Reality: You are the only expert on yourself. Your parents, teachers and even Career counselors can help you only in the planning process, but only you can determine the best choice for you.

Myth # 11: Life is always fair. Life is always unfair.

Reality: Unfortunately, life is not always fair. Fortunately, life sometimes is fair. Dealing with the unfairness of life can teach you the skills necessary to deal with adversity, which is part of the human condition. Generally, effort determines outcome, and you have a reasonable amount of control over your career success.

Myth # 12: The specialization/ subjects I select will lead me to a direct career. Hence I must select the right specialization or I’ll end up in the wrong career.

Reality: Most employers care more about your work related experience (e.g., part-time jobs, internships, and co-ops) and the “real world” skills that you have obtained than they do about your major. Unless you are planning to enter an area that requires specific technical skills, such as mechanical engineering or nursing, you are free to choose any major that interests you. One major can lead to many different careers, and one career can be reached through many different majors. In fact, most people find themselves working in fields that are only remotely related to their majors.

Myth # 13: Studying arts and science, you will not find employment.

Reality: The era after 90’s has seen IT taking center stage. The students after 10+2 look upon careers in engineering and medicine, neglecting the arts and science graduation courses. Such students mush know that studying arts and pure science, a student undergoes valuable training in areas such as writing, research, creative thinking and critical thinking. These are called transferable skills; that is, skills that are learned in one area can be transferred to other areas. The skills that one learns in the liberal arts are skills that are sought after by many employers. Arts and Sciences gradautes are employed in a wide range of careers. A recent trend seen is the IT Industry recruiting graduates with BSc, BA and B.Com degree for a wide range of jobs.

Myth # 14: Most people’s knowledge of occupations is complete

Reality: You will be surprised to know that most of the people in this world have less knowledge of occupations, including their own occupation. It’s the media that often provides a glamorized and unrealistic picture of occupations. Most of what passes as knowledge is really based upon stereotypes. Television shows may depict the police officer who does breathtaking stunts and single handedly beating or killing hundreds of goondas! But, in reality, a police officer who might be a constable or an inspector or Asst. Commissioner of police will be spending many hours on paper work, visiting disputed sites, controlling traffic, etc. Hence, as you narrow down your occupational options, be sure you are getting a balanced and accurate picture of the occupations you are considering.


Gary Lynn Harr, Career Guide: Road Maps to Meaning in the World of Work, 1995. Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.,

Do you have any questions on education / Career? Do you feel you need guidance and counseling? Email or write your queries to us: CIGMA Foundation, No. 214, United School Building, Ilyasnagar, J. P. Nagar 6th Phase, Bangalore – 560 078 Email:; Website:

(The author works with CIGMA Foundation, M.S.W. Career Guidance & Info Center, Bangalore)

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