Career myths – let’s do some busting!

It’s confusing world out there, with so many mixed messages about careers and the world of work. Let’s look at some of the most commonly spoken career myths and discover the truth behind them.

“The earlier you decide on your choice of career, the better.”

Not necessarily. While it may appear to give you a ‘head start’ over others, that is no use if the choice isn’t the right one. What is most important is that you conduct thorough research to enable you to make the best choices for your future. Getting a range of exposure across a number of industries, whilst at university, may help you discover which is right for you. And don’t forget that these days it is common for people to change careers several times throughout their working lives, perhaps as their own needs and circumstances change.

“Your career should be directly relevant to your degree or university was a waste of time”.

Wrong! A degree isn’t a vocational training programme (although, in some cases, it may carry professional qualifications with it). It’s an academic qualification which shows your ability to learn whilst developing a whole host of useful transferable skills such as research, communication skills, critical thinking etc. Additionally, university provides a unique environment in which to bolster your transferable skills whilst also exploring different career options. This is why the majority of graduate employers do not specify a particular degree discipline from their applicants and prefer, instead, to draw from students from a diverse range of academic backgrounds.

Job interview - Illustration with Copyspace

“The best careers are those that pay the most.”

To some people, yes, to most people, no. There are always going to be people who are more money motivated than others and for these people a high salary is going to be important. But let’s not forget that there is usually a big pay-off for a fat pay cheque. These jobs often involve insanely long hours and a lot of responsibility and pressure. If that doesn’t drive you then think about what’s important to you – do you need a job that helps other people/has professional respect/is intellectually challenging? Aligning your career with your own set of work values should help ensure that you find the best job for you in the longer term.

 “Every successful professional starts with a graduate trainee scheme.”

Not true. The Holy Grail of the graduate trainee scheme is, in fact, something that is only achieved by a minority of graduates. Many, instead, make their own way to the top through a more winding route which may ultimately be more satisfactory to them. A graduate trainee scheme simply isn’t for everyone – for a start they are still fairly heavily biased within larger organisations and particularly (although not exclusively) those with a strong commercial edge like banking and law. SMEs and, indeed, more creative industries may well recruit graduates, but not through a formalised trainee programmes, meaning that these students may have more of a chance to carve out their career in the direction they wish, rather than follow a rigid and expected progression path.

“Getting a 2.2 makes you unemployable.”

Again, this is incorrect. While it may be harder to get off the starting blocks, particularly with larger organisations who specify a 2.1 or higher from their applicants, there are a range of quality public and private sector employers who will recruit graduates with a 2.2. These include certain programmes within EY, Deloitte, HMRC, Jaguar Land Rover, Nationwide, NHS and John Lewis Partnership, to name but a few. SMEs are also considered a good starting point for 2.2 grads. It is a tough market out there though, so students in this situation should be encouraged to look at more creative ways of tackling their job search, including making sure they are networking as strongly as possible using both their existing contacts along with tools such as LinkedIn to develop their work networks further.

Hannah, Careers Consultant

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