By Annie Favreau
Considering a career change? Then you’ve already busted one of the biggest myths in the book: I will only have one career.
During your lifetime, your values, strengths, and interests shift—and so does the job market. In fact, the average person will change jobs eleven times. So if you’re looking for something new, you’re in good company.
Check out this myth-busting list to uncover the facts (and fictions) of changing your career.
MYTH #1: I just haven’t found my one perfect job yet.
REALITY: You can achieve success on many different career paths. When you let go of the Cinderella-slipper Career (that fantasy of a perfect job match), you can begin to see your career change as a wide-open opportunity, rather than worrying you’re going to get it “wrong.”
MYTH #2: I need to follow my passion to have a satisfying career.
REALITY: The core idea of “follow your passion”—that job satisfaction comes from figuring out what you love and finding a career path to fit—is great, but flawed. In reality, you’ve also got to know what people are willing to pay for. Aligning your interests and skills with job market needs is the winning combo.
MYTH #3: If I change careers, my skills will be wasted.
REALITY: In many job situations, you can transfer your skills from one job to the next. This is especially true of “soft skills,” like communication, leadership, and judgment. Regardless, you are the sum total of your experiences—even if you’re in a new situation, what you’ve learned in the past isn’t useless.
That being said, change and adaptation are now an inevitable part of the job landscape. If you can identify your core work values and prepare yourself to expect shifts, you’ll be able to seize new opportunities when they come along.
MYTH #4: Other people really like this job, so I probably will too.
REALITY: Just because a friend likes their job doesn’t mean you will. You’re an individual with particular values, interests, and strengths—look for a career that matches who you are.
Remember, learning about the career paths of your friends and family members can be a great place to start looking for ideas. But don’t stop there. Take time to do your research, explore options, and expand your knowledge of what’s possible.
MYTH #5: Going back to school is a waste of time and money.
REALITY: A carefully chosen retraining path can turbo-charge your career opportunities. Lifelong learning is no longer a buzz-phase you can ignore: the world of work is changing constantly and educating yourself is part of keeping up.
Don’t rush into a costly investment if you don’t have a good plan for how to use your education. But recognize that calculated investment in your education—whether you’re taking a single class, earning a certificate, or going after a new degree—can have a big pay-off for your career.
What career-change myth would you add to the list?Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a career exploration site that helps people discover careers and find the right education to make it happen. Explore your career options at Inside Jobs.