Personal myths represent our ideas about ourselves, people and the world around us. These ideas are passed down by our family, and influences our attitudes, values and beliefs to comprise our ‘world view.’ It serves us well and remains unchallenged until confronted with personal or professional challenges.
A myth means a traditional or legendary story, with or without a basis of fact that is usually past its use by date. Often these myths bear little relevance to new and modern situations that we face. As a result of new experiences and learning, our perspectives are modified and broadened to challenge the validity of these myths. During the process, we go through personal growth to change ourself and our perspective.
Below are four career myths that are reframed in a modern career context.
Myth 1 – Pick a career path and stick with it
As recently as twenty years ago, most people who started out in one career retired from a higher-level version of their first job. That is not the case today.
Over a lifetime, individuals can expect to change their careers five to seven times. A worker in one career may switch to a related career, or an entirely new career. Multiple careers reflect the life stage of the individual, and their transferable skills that are acquired through work, education or life, enables individuals to apply these skills in new careers. For example, a teacher who has spent many years in the profession may change their career to being a fitness instructor. The transferable skills are relating information, interpersonal skills, and working with others.
As life-expectancy increases, an individual may seek a career that is less time consuming and demanding, or perhaps, the desire to express another side of him/herself. Workers may have concurrent multiple careers work at two careers simultaneously, with usually one career being dominant, or to pursue a creative need. Often, such careers are also regarded as a “hyphenated” professional identity. Example, a “teacher-artist” might refer to an individual who works for nine months of the year as teacher, and during the holidays as an artist. Or, combines both roles in different capacities during the year.
As individuals change their career paths, they bring their experience and achievements to add value to their new career.
Myth 2 – During a slow economy be safe and don’t change jobs
With a slow economy, many individuals seek to hold a job for security reasons so that there is less movement between jobs. There is an element of truth as individuals are less risk adverse. However, individuals do change jobs or look for new ways of working. It may include consultancy work with different clients or working at two part-time jobs. Some may say that this type of employment brings greater job security, rather than relying on one employer.
Myth 3 – A 9-5 work day in the office is the only way to work
Successful organisations build flexibility into the workplace. Fair Work Ombudsman provide examples of flexible working arrangements to include:
- Hours’ of work (start or finish times)
- Patterns of work (split shifts or job sharing)
- Locations of work (working from home)
Flexible working arrangements such as part-time work, job sharing or telecommuting can be viable work options. Flexible work arrangements suit:
- parents and carers balancing job demands with family responsibilities
- mature-age workers approaching retirement
- employees with study commitments
- people returning to work after an illness or long absence
Employees who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements. Employers can only refuse requests on ‘reasonable business grounds.’
Myth 4 – Older individuals are less employable than their younger counterparts
Both older and younger workers need to stay relevant with updated knowledge and skills to add value to their employer.
With Australia’s ageing population and fewer younger workers entering the workforce, there is a business case to engage older workers. We need to move beyond stereotypes of misconceptions and biases.
Recent research by Monash University and AIM in 2012 indicates that older workers bring specific management skills, using greater ―crystallized intelligence (intelligence based on knowledge acquisition and experience). Retaining older workers may result in the retention of corporate knowledge for individual organisations, mentoring younger employees and minimising recruitment costs and the associated productivity loss. Older workers may play a crucial role in assisting an organisation to engage with its customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Instead of retiring from work completely, a phased retirement provides flexible working arrangements that can involve: reducing the number of hours and/or working days, job sharing or changing positions and responsibilities.
Employers need to appreciate the valuable resource of older workers, and employ for the ‘best fit’ to an organisation, whether this be an older or younger individual. Outdated career myths need to be challenged to ensure that they are relevant to a new context. The path of self-discovery is to challenge and reframe myths to create meaning and personal growth for an enhanced life.
Good luck, and enjoy the journey.
Leah Shmerling is the Director and Principal Consultant of Crown Coaching and Training, and has over 30 years’ experience in career development, life coaching, education and training. Leah is the author and publisher of the nationally accredited online short course Foundations in Career Development Practice.
Leah is a professional member of the Career Development Association Australia (CDAA), a Certified Retirement Coach and is Board Certified as a Career Management Fellow with the Institute of Career Certification.
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