What Not to Do When Selecting a Career

Selecting a career is one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make. It will affect where you live, how much you make and the lifestyle you'll enjoy (or regret). So you want to choose a career that is best suited to meet your expectations, needs and long-term goals. While you're never stuck with your career choice, making a career change can be painstaking and disruptive. It's much easier, if you're able to pick the ideal occupation the first time around. This means selecting a career that you not only enjoy, but that can support you (and your family to be) financially for years to come. Other articles address how to select a career. However, on this page we'll explore common mistakes you'll want to avoid to increase your chances of making a good career decision.

Don't Rely Too Heavily on Other People's Opinions
It's always a good idea to seek advice from those with more experience and knowledge than yourself. However, no one knows you better than you do. Parents, friends, your spouse, they all have an opinion about what you should become and which career you should choose—but at the end of the day, the only opinion that really matters is your own. Remember, you'll be at your job 40 hours a week, every month, all year long, so make sure you choose a career that makes you happy, not everyone else. Most of the time the career you choose will have very little impact on those around you—but it will have huge impact on you. Make sure you can live with your decision, because you'll have to—day in and day out.

Don't Follow in Someone Else's Footsteps
It's not uncommon for someone to go into the same occupation as their parents', and it's not uncommon when they do they eventually find their occupation unsatisfying. Your father may have been an attorney. Your father's father may have been an attorney. But you can be whatever you want—and you should. If your passion is taking care of animals, then maybe you should break from family tradition and become a veterinarian. As difficult as it may be, we recommend you ignore pressure you feel to please others, including your parents. If you need to, remind your parents that you love them, but you're an adult and can make your own choices. In reality, those who love you most want you to be happy in the long run, and you'll be happiest if you choose the career that's right for you.

Don't Jump in Blind
One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make is not doing their homework before heading down a specific career path. Yes, you may stand to make a lot of money if you become an entrepreneur, but if you do you're research, you'll find out that most entrepreneurs never hit it big, they have long work weeks and many sleepless nights thinking about how they're going to make payroll and keep the business afloat. Don't choose an occupation until you're thoroughly familiar with what it entails. You need to learn everything you can about any career you're serious about. In addition to a general job description, you need to explore job duties, training requirements, average earnings, and job outlook. While it might be tempting to pursue a occupation where there's currently a lot of opportunity, there may not be as much opportunity ten years down the road. Make sure to do your due diligence and research. Also, make sure that you explore several different careers before you decide on just one. It's impossible for you to find the perfect career, when it's the only career you've looked into.

Don't Not Talk to People Working in Your Field
You can read about an occupation all day long, but you won't really know what it's like until you speak with professionals currently working in the career field(s) you're considering. Not only are published reports not entirely accurate, they're typically outdated. Conducting information interviews with industry professionals will provide you a truthful account of what it's like to really work in the career—and you're assured to get the most current, up-to-date information. When conducting information interviews, make sure to talk with as many people as possible to avoid individual bias. While one person may give you a rosy picture of what it's like being a litigation attorney, after interviewing five litigation attorney's you'd probably find that most find the work to be extremely stressful for a variety of reasons.

Don't Get Too Caught Up with the Pay
Not one of us would ever consider a career that didn't provide enough to support our lifestyle, yet focusing too much on earning potential can be detrimental to long-term career satisfaction. Some people get so caught up with how much they can make they ignore or minimize other factors that are greater predictors of job satisfaction. You may make $180,000 a year, but if you hate your job, and it consumes your time, energy and mental faculties, you're never going to be able to enjoy all that money you're making. Acheiving work-life balance includes finding a career that provides for your financial needs while fulfilling all your other needs.

Don't Not Be Selfaware
Each of use is unique. Each of has interests, values and aptitudes that set up apart from others. While working with people better suits your personality type, for others solitude or low levels of interaction is preferred. These intrinsic traits that define who we are have a huge impact on which careers we'll excell at and find satisfying. Ignoring who you are when selecting a career, is recipe for a bad experience. Before selecting a career, or evening being the career exploration process, it's important that you know who you are. One of the best way of self discovery, as it relates to selecting an occupation, is to conduct a thorough self assessment and career evaluation.

Don't Not Consider Location
One of the biggest considerations when selecting a career is where you'll be required to live. If you want to live in rural Cheyenne, Wyoming, pursuing a career in investment banking probably isn't the smartest idea, as most investment bankers work on the East Coast, West Coast or major metropolitan area. In fact, many types of jobs are concentrated in major metro area like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. If you're not willing to relocate, you may greatly limit your career options and have difficulty finding a good job.

Don't Limit Your Options to a "Best Careers" List
What's "Best" for someone else, isn't necessarily best for you, and vice versa. Notwithstanding, many people limit their career search to occupations found on "Best Careers" lists. Most best career lists include occupations that offer a lot of opportunity at the moment, highest pay, or best benefits. While these lists can be a helpful guide, making a decision based entirely on these lists is a very bad idea. Just because a career offers great current and future prospects, it can still be bad match for your values, interests and personality, and ultimately prove to be a big disappointment.

Don't Not Consider the Job Outlook
What's hot today, may not be hot tomorrow—and the same holds true for some careers. Not only is ignoring employment outlook careless, it's down right dumb. Millions of Americans find themselves unemployed because they worked in industries that have morphed or disappeared altogether. While no one has a crystal ball, there are several websites, including our site careerprofiles.info and Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), that publish reliable job outlooks for hundreds of U.S. jobs and occupations. Before heading down a specific career path, it's important you take into account its future prospects. If the future looks for a career looks bleak, eliminate it from your list of possible occupations.

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