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Common Misconceptions About Careers

At a Glance

In this post, we'll dive into some common myths about careers, getting a job, and overall career exploration.

We pulled this list as examples from career-focused articles as well as myths we've heard during our own career paths.

You'll see that a lot of these myths are ones we still talk a lot about! 

As we dive into some common myths about careers, we believe there is some merit to recognizing that outside of the unique challenges faced by autistic jobseekers, most people are likely to be exposed to some incorrect or unhelpful myths about searching for a job and building a career. 

Some of us might hear outdated advice from people who haven’t had to apply for a new job in years while others might have just lost touch with how entry level positions work now that they have built up their own resume. Others still might just be operating on hearsay or the way they personally like to do things. 

Before we talk about some career “truisms” that may apply to neurotypicals but ignore autistics, we thought it would be helpful to cover some common career myths you may have heard growing up. 

What is a truism? 

Broadly speaking, a truism can be seen as an anecdote, observation, or framing about "the way things work" that is broadly accepted as factual even when there is no evidence for it being true.

We will be pulling examples from the linked article and our own experiences, as well as our thoughts on the grain of truth that some of these myths may have originated from!

If you’re not in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) major you are wasting your time in college.

A particularly common refrain, there is truth to the idea that these majors can impart valuable skills that are in demand when you graduate. 

But there are so many jobs out there calling for a college degree that are not STEM-based positions! 

More stereotypically maligned majors in the humanities sometimes have niche professional classes within that particular field but impart skills that apply to a wide range of jobs.

Your career will be based on your major.

Careers can be as much about finding unexpected applications for your skills as it can be about meticulously planning out your academia to career pathway. Don’t let your major put you in a box!

Once you get on a career path it is very hard to get off or switch.

Depending on your career path this advice might not be completely irrelevant but it can be a little dated. While it is true that some career paths may go long term and be hard to deviate from, it is also much more commonplace to see people change jobs and careers these days!

You need to reach out to recruiters independently to show you are serious.

This is another dated piece of advice that is quite socially intimidating and a misguided attempt to cast someone as a go getter. 

While going out and making connections can be a valuable part of finding job opportunities, this advice is often given in a cold calling context and is increasingly not appreciated by potential employers. 

A better way of getting recruiter attention these days is using verbs in your resume that match the language of the job description.

Everyone gets jobs and builds careers in the same way.

Some people seem to practically be starting on their career while they are still in high school, while others take a winding path to what they ultimately want and have lots of great experiences along the way! 

While it sometimes helps to hear how other people might envision a career path, you should ultimately be the one to decide which parts of that vision are right for you.

If you are interested in a career then college is a necessity.

Some careers certainly have specific requirements related to college, and others are much easier to break into with a college degree in hand. But there are also plenty of vocations that do not require a college degree.

College can be a huge investment, and it is certainly something you should feel will be worth your time before you are made to spend a considerable amount of money on it.

We should only pursue jobs that match our strongest skillsets.

Our strengths and skills are certainly important factors in advertising ourselves to potential employers, but don’t underestimate the power of seeing room to grow into a role. 

Some jobs can be so specific that they require any applicant to grow into it a little bit and other times you might be surprised at exactly where your potential employer’s priorities lie.

When you know the exact career you want, the range of jobs you can take is very narrow.

It’s amazing the different ways experience from one job can translate into another job, and you shouldn’t underestimate the value of work that seems a little tangential. 

While some jobs or paths may include some strict requirements at some phases, it is always worth thinking about ways you could potentially expand your horizons and whether you think it could be beneficial at that point in your career.

If an employer is willing to hire me and I don’t have other offers I should take the job.

We should state from the outset that sometimes necessity drives the decision of whether or not to take a particular job and we would never suggest you should ignore your material needs for a potential “better fit” in the future. 

But for those who are operating with a degree of flexibility there can still be some pressure to show you are grateful for opportunities to work or just to show that you’re not on the job hunt for too long. 

But taking a job that’s not a good fit could just lead you to be running the same searches you currently are while dealing with the stresses of a job you don’t like! 

Ultimately you are the best judge of your own situation, and we are covering this myth to help rid people of the notion that they have some kind of moral obligation to sell their labor to the first bidder.

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