Myth 1 – A major determines what your career will be.
Fact: For most employers, your work-related experience and “real world” skills speak louder than your major. Unless you are planning to enter an area that requires specific technical skills or specific certifications, 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, and it is possible to work in almost any career with any major.
Myth 2 – You only get to have one career, so choose wisely.
Fact: Today, women change careers more than their nail polish. Moreso than ever, career planning is an ongoing, never-ending process. Re-addressing your career plans several times during your life is not just normal; it’s healthy. Especially here in the heart of P&G – a company that encourages occupation diversity and having job experience outside of your chosen career path – the typical person entering the work force will have as many as five or six different occupations by the time he or she retires.
Important as it is to find a rewarding occupation, it is not likely to be a final decision. People continue to change throughout life and so does the job market. Think about this: Many occupations available within your lifetime may not even exist yet! While you’ll never completely know 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 re-evaluate that career once you’re in it. There’s only one constant thing about change: It’s inevitable.
Myth 3 – Your job will be offshored eventually.
Fact: According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute study, other countries such as China and India, don’t have the talented labor pool to take our information technology and business process services jobs. The study says, “Out of a pool of 33 million young professionals in low-wage countries…only 13 percent of university graduates are suitable” as multinational employees, due to poor language skills and embedded cultural attitudes. Even when it comes to engineering, only 10 percent of engineers in China and 25 percent in India were found to be suitable.
Myth 4 – Telecommuters are just as productive.
Fact: Whether or not they actually are, telecommuters are hardly ever perceived as being as productive as their in-the-office co-workers. They are often passed over for promotions, raises and special projects because they are less visible, and a lack of incentive and recognition contributes to low productivity levels.
Myth 5 – Job-hopping makes you look inexperienced.
Fact: Between the ages of 20 and 30, most people have more than eight jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, job hopping is a good thing for everyone to do – not just twentysomethings – because it’s a way to maintain passion in your work. Frequent changes keep your learning curve high and your challenges fresh. Finally, frequent job hopping, coupled with high performance allows you to build a professional network much faster than someone who stays in one position over a long period of time. All of the sudden, a job hopper is looking so much more attractive than Mr. Dusty Pants who’s occupied the same job for decades.
Myth 6 – You need an M.B.A. to get rich.
Fact: Only 16 percent of those on the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest have M.B.A.s, and, if you are looking to be only moderately wealthy, be aware that some companies think having more than one M.B.A. on staff is redundant – or just don’t believe in M.B.A.s at all. That’s important to note, as our region boasts 10 Fortune 500 companies and 18 Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in the Cincinnati area. Statistically, Greater Cincinnati ranks sixth in the U.S. with 4.98 Fortune 500 companies per million residents and fourth in the U.S. with 8.96 Fortune 1000 companies per million residents.
Myth 7 – Dating within the company is a career killer.
Fact: In some companies, such as Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, dating within the company is encouraged. Hence, the company’s ticker symbol: NYSE: LUV. A recent CareerBuilder.com survey showed that about half of workers have dated a co-worker, and in 2005 42 percent of workplace romances led to marriage, according to another study. But, dating your boss? That’s still a big no-no.
Myth 8 – Career assessments will tell me exactly what career is right for me.
Fact: Assessment tests can provide you with additional information that may be helpful as one part of the career planning process. No test, however, can tell you what to do with your life or serve up the “perfect” career match. Assessments take a sample of certain kinds of knowledge or attitudes and draw conclusions based on the sample. Test results can be confounded by many things: cultural differences, unrepresentative samples, and unintentionally biased items, to name a few. Use assessments with caution, and critically examine your test results.
Myth 9 – Companies are embracing work-life balance initiatives.
Fact: Companies across the board are trumpeting employee benefits, such as subsidized child care, free cafeteria meals and on-site doctors. At the same time, jobs in Cincinnati have decreased 21 percent over the past two years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means companies are trying to get more work from fewer employees. Hence, the proliferation of production-enhancing technology. BlackBerrys, wireless Internet access and cellphones are the most visible examples, but in fields like manufacturing, better equipment and more efficient software is putting the squeeze on employees as well.
Myth 10 – I should look for a job where employers are doing lots of hiring right now.
Fact: The job market constantly fluctuates. Take for example the dot.com boom in the late 90s, which led to a bust just a few years later, rendering thousands of workers jobless. 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.
As another example, today there may be a dramatic need for nurses. The demand outstrips the supply with a resulting increase in salary, fringe benefits, and opportunity as employers compete for the limited supply of trained workers. College students who decide they want to become nurses primarily because of this increased opportunity may be disappointed after years of training because they are competing with thousands of people with the same idea. The 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.