Career describes an individuals’ journey through learning, work and other aspects of life. The origin of the word is very interesting. It came, way back, from the Latin word carrus, cart; Spanish carrera, road; French carrière, racecourse.
We should try not to mix the terms Job, Occupation & Career. The difference between each of the three terms is more than just meaning. Unlike “career”, an “occupation” is a broad term that encompasses your employment sector or the category of jobs in which you fit. If you want to be a Civil Engineer, for instance, then Civil Engineer might be your job or career, but your occupation is something broader such as an “engineer”. A “Job”, on the other hand, is a temporary step you might need to take to build a career. According to the Grand Rapids Community College, a job is not a career, although a career can include several jobs. Understanding the differences can have a huge impact on how you make life’s difficult choices and determine what you want for your career.
What I am going to discuss in this article is taking a macro look at some of the myths that many careerist might believe to be true. Hopefully all of us will then start to adopt a different approach to craft the ideal career we envisage.
Myth 1: I only answer to my boss
Fact: Just because you interact better with your bosses doesn’t mean you are in for a glorious career. In fact, one of the most important hiring criteria for many companies is the individual’s ability to work as a team player—yet, so many of us have colleagues who don’t play well with others. You can check out some tips here. Make teamwork a priority!
Myth 2: Forget about work-life balance
Fact: I use to tell my friends that work-life balance is achieved when work becomes your life. I was joking. Work-life balance is achieved when it is part of your life. I think being a family person and building a career have lots of similarities and can live in almost perfect harmony.
Furthermore working late past your knock-off timing might also mean that you need more time to do probably the same amount of work your colleague is able to accomplish.
Myth 3: I should answer or respond (eg: to emails) on my colleagues’ behalf
Fact: Never answer any communication (with clients or superiors) on your colleagues’ behalf, especially when you are in the ‘cc’ list, unless with specific permission from the recipient. While it might seem logical to reply especially to important emails, this also means that you are rude as well.
Myth 4: I need to be a ‘YES’ man!
Fact: Everyone loves YES man, right? Nope! While I agree that saying ‘no’ can sometimes hurt your career, we should also understand that by saying ‘no’ can mean that we do go through a detailed analysis of the possible job scope and realise there might be realistic limitations preventing the successful completion of the task. You should therefore include a detailed analytical explanation as to why you had to say ‘no’. Doesn’t that make you a better employee?
Be responsible and realistic enough to say no! It will be worst if you can’t accomplish the additional load of work.
Myth 5: I should always volunteer for tasks
Fact: Work tasks that are not handled properly may back fire. It is as simple as that. If you need to, volunteer for stuff at which you have a reasonable chance of success, or it helps with your personal or professional development. Even if you mess up, you’ll learn from your own mistakes.
Myth 6: I must never miss a day of work
Fact: We (Asians) believe that taking a sick day is a taboo.
To me, if you are not feeling well, rest! That way you can get better faster and be more productive when back at work. As simple as that.
Myth 7: I must be the longest serving employee
Fact: Career planning is an ongoing process. You will probably re-strategise your career plans several times during your working life. At this time, the typical person entering the work force at age 25 will have as many as five or six different occupations (or ten jobs) by the time he or she retires. Many occupations that will be available within your lifetime may not even exist yet!
In one of the interview with our President, Dr Tony Tan in 2011. He “noted that many students in the audience were likely to have not just one, but two, three, perhaps four careers during your working life.“
Myth 8: There is one perfect occupation waiting for me somewhere
Fact: Many occupations have the potential to satisfy your career goals. Once you clearly defined what you are looking for in a career, you will find that there are a number of occupations that matches these criteria. But seriously, don’t find a career you deem perfect, instead make the career you have now a perfect one.
Myth 9: I should choose an occupation based on my strongest skills
Fact: It is risky to consider only your skills for a career decision because skills are only one of the components of a full self-evaluation; interests and values are equally as important in the decision making process. Just because you are good at admin work does not mean you will be happy working in a law firm (if you do not enjoy dealing with subjects in this industry).
Myth 10: The best place for me to start looking for an occupation is where employers are doing lots of hiring right now
Fact: The job market fluctuates constantly. Employment opportunities can change dramatically. Although projections are available from information resources, this data should be used with caution. There is an inevitable lag time between the demands for certain occupations and the response to this demand. It is thus more important for us to equip ourselves with valuable generic skill-sets.
This article first appeared in LinkedIn, a publishing platform for professionals worldwide.
Anfernee Tan | Operations Director, biipmi Pte Ltd
Anfernee Tan is the co-founder and also the Chief Editor of biipmi.print. He oversees all marketing initiatives for content and channel optimization across multiple networks to drive engagement, retention, leads and positive experience for the individual users and business owners. He is a career coach, an adult educator, and an entrepreneur with special interest towards employability, digital media, content marketing and brand strategy. Check out what he has to say!