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7 Common but Bad Reasons to Choose a Career

7 Common but Bad Reasons to Choose a Career

You’ve just finished school and you stand at the cross-roads of life. The employment choices before you seem endless.

You’ve been wrestling with the question of who you want to be when you grow up for years now, but answers like “a fire-fighter” or “an astronaut” seem either insufficient or unrealistic.

Or are they?

The difference between your career aspirations between when you were 10 years old and present day is largely due to a layer of social conditioning which has began to cloud your thinking.

While some of it may be useful, a lot of it is also going to set you on a path towards career dissatisfaction. Here are the top 7 motivations to look out for.

1. Status & Money.

Close your eyes and imagine being a lawyer or a banker. Do you see yourself wearing a pin-stripe suit, rolling in your new BMW to an office tower where your name is on the door?

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Do you want people to say “wow!” when you tell them what you do? Be honest with yourself. Money, as great as it can be, is not enough to keep you interested feel fulfilled in your job.

2. Perks & Validation.

Closely related to status and money, a desire to feel important and approved of can easily cloud your judgement when choosing a career.

It’s true, the CEO might get treated differently than an entry level marketing intern, though it’s a mistake to think that a senior position is a permanent shield from disapproval.

To someone who is just starting out, it might seem that CEOs spend their days having their whims catered to, going to lunch meetings, travelling and doing exciting deals. In reality, the more senior the position, the more it requires facing disapproval and criticism.

Companies which adapt swiftly, grow quickly and solve real problems in the world often have people at the helm who spend very little time indulging in perks of their job and a lot of time making hard decisions and dealing with the damage which doing their job results in.

3. “But You’re So Good At It!”

Just because you’re good at something, that doesn’t mean it’s a wise career choice.

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When you’re at the starting point of your career, employers don’t expect you to be overly skilled — they’re very much aware that your professional background isn’t very extensive.

Hiring managers look for culture fit first and skills second. During interviews, they’ll be testing you to see how aware you are of your core values and what motivates you to join their team.

They’ll assume that they’ll have to teach you most necessary skills during the first few years. In fact, you’ll have a better time at work if you feel like you’re pushing your own limits by being on a steep learning curve.

4. Following Your Friends.

So your buddies have already finished college and have gone into real estate. They say that they can pull some strings to get you an interview with the company.

What could be better than going to work with your circle of friends? It would be almost like College 2.0, except you’ll now be getting paid for it, right?

Wrong. If the job isn’t intrinsically meaningful to you, your friends will quickly become the people you gossip with about how bad the job is. Some of them might be in positions of leadership by that stage, which will mean that if you keep up that act, you’ll lose them as friends, too.

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5. Making Your Parents Happy.

This is also often a quest for status and validation, except one that’s fuelled by your parents. Some parents want you to set off on a career path, just so that they can have bragging rights at the golf club.

“My little angel is now a neurosurgeon … we are so proud.”

‘Nuff said.

6. Job Security.

Some careers (medicine, law, management) have traditionally been viewed as more secure than, say, photography and graphic design.

That might be true to some extent, though the notion of job security is no longer a valid concept for you to base your career on.

Job security is no longer a right — it’s something that has to be earned and maintained, in any field. Only by contributing above and beyond what your role requires will you be able to guarantee not only job security, but demand for you, as well.

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7. Because You’re Interested In It.

I’m interested in coffee. I love good coffee and I love asking baristas questions about origin of the beans, roasting processes and trying to figure out whether my espresso on a particular morning has more hints of spice or leather.

I sometimes get carried away in this little obsession and begin to think that one day I’d like to open a cafe.

That thought lasts only as long as I get myself present to the realities of such a job. Would I want to wake up at 4am every day to open the shop by 6am? Would I want to deal with broken fridges, leaking pipes, pest control regulations, permits, short-tempered customers and the roster of a small team of casual employees?

No, thank you. I admire people who do it and I know it’s not for me.

Similarly, as you set out to choose a career, I suggest you consider the everyday realities of your future job, regardless of how interesting it may look to you on the surface.

Featured photo credit: Phil Chambers via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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