There is an abundance of career advice dispensed by your well-wishers or the internet which address a range of career specific issues: How long should you stay in a job? Do I choose my passion over a well-paying job? Does hard work guarantee career success? As a professional, you should have the sensibility to separate the good advice from the bad to make informed decisions about your career.
“Like what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”
We’ve heard this before and indeed, this phrase sounds just like a dream. It would be just perfect to do what you love. However, it is not realistic. No job is perfect and without its challenges. Even if you love your job and it fits your natural aptitudes perfectly well, you will still have some bad days, difficult stakeholders to manage or even associated tasks which are mundane.
“Follow the money” / “Follow your passion”
Doing the work you love is great, but that in and of itself does not guarantee a decent compensation. “Following your passion” may not be financially lucrative especially in the initial stages of your career. At the same time, choosing your profession purely on a monetary basis will not guarantee job satisfaction or happiness. There are numerous other things to consider besides money and passion such as job responsibilities, benefits package, company culture, work-life balance and opportunities for advancement that contribute to the makings of an overall fulfilling career.
“Hold on to your role until that perfect position comes along…”
Many people believe that an unsatisfactory or underpaid job is better than no job at all. Besides, there is a common belief, especially when the job market is challenging, that one must consider taking up any job opportunity that comes along as experience is the most important thing. On the other hand, people who change their jobs too often are considered to be job-hoppers. Sometimes, the information you gained during the interview does not fully reflect the whole picture. There may be times that you realize your mistake of accepting the job right on your first day, during your first week, or within the first month itself. In such circumstances, some career “experts” advice against leaving the job until the completion of the one-year mark or until a more suitable opportunity comes along. There is no straight answer – it makes sense to consider a particular job even if isn’t the perfect fit, but gives you a foot in the door, helps you transition into the industry of your choice or gives you the financial safety net while you figure out what you would really like to do.
“Just work hard, be patient, and it will all work itself out…”
Employers are concerned with the value and benefits you bring them without deep diving into the hard work, long hours or overall effort and dedication it might have taken to achieve the results. Promotions are ultimately determined by the end results; they are seldom given to acknowledge the means to the end. Reality is that hard work alone is not going to be sufficient in determining your promotion, a fair reward or long-term career success. This is just how business works. ‘Work hard to succeed’ is an adage that may not hold true in today’s world. Professionals must thus define what ‘success’ or ‘achievement’ means to them and how they want to prioritise happiness and career in their life. This should then inform the level of effort and time they allocate to career and seek to strive some sort of a balance.
“Your company will take care of you.”
Some people would advise you to find and work a job where you can feel secure and comfortable until you retire. Perhaps, this was relevant for the baby boomer generation, but the world has evolved. Companies and businesses around the world have drastically changed their approach to work. Today’s market and global economy are challenging and with technology, some jobs are becoming redundant and there is a lesser sense of job security. Nowadays, to succeed in your career, you should be ready to step out of your comfort zone.
Your friends, mentors and colleagues may have your best interest at heart when they offer you a piece of advice. However, when it comes to your career choices you should know best what would work for you and what would not.
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