“I hate my job. I dread getting out of bed every morning,” whined James. “How do some people enjoy their jobs? What is the secret recipe?” he asked himself, thinking hard for an answer.
People like James fail to realize how little choices can either shape their career or lead it astray. Building your professional career starts with earlier decisions. A happy and successful career requires actions long before the day you feel Monday blues.
Prevention is better than cure serves as appropriate advice in this case.
In this article, we will cover the following 7 common reasons why young professionals choose the wrong career path.
1. Choosing a Career Due to Other People’s Decisions
Your career does not begin on the first day of your job. It starts with your college when you choose a specialization.
Many students apply no thought whatsoever when choosing what to study. Many times, the decision isn’t even their own. The three most common factors which determine their choice are:
1. Parental Pressure
In some cases, parents force their children to choose a particular career. It can be due to an unfulfilled dream of the parent, which he expects his kid to fulfil. The movies even make a legendary story out of it like a dream coming true.
Some parents expect that their son/daughter continues the history that runs through the family. For example, some doctors expect their children to pursue medicine even if they dislike the field of biology altogether.
Though your parents wish the best for you, they do not think, act or approach life as you do.
A great example is Andre Agassi, who was forced into playing Tennis at the age of 6 by his father. Though he went on to become a superstar in the sport, he never enjoyed playing Tennis.
In his autobiography, Open, he explains how his father had derailed his career at a young age that he had no expertise in any other field. He played Tennis because he did not know what else he could do.
2. Choosing What Most Others Are Doing
Some students look at what most other students are choosing and go with the flow. You will notice the trend changing every five years or so.
People chose Engineering, Biotechnology, Electronics, or Computer Science because it seemed like the whole world seemed to lean towards that specialization.
What is booming in the market may have a good future, but it isn’t necessarily the right choice for you.
3. Following Someone Else’s Footsteps
Some students choose what their best friend selected. “We were great friends in school, and we played the same pranks. Our careers can also align the same way,” you think?
Another example is choosing a career which a well-known person in your locality or community did. Because he went on to make a name for himself, you believe you can follow the same path.
The choice that another person made does not make it an excellent decision for everyone. Maybe that option suited him best, but the same does not apply to you.
2. Choosing the First Job Based on Paycheck
Monetary benefits are a big reason why we go to work. If organizations offered salary for free, most employees would stop working.
That said, money should not be the driving factor behind the job you choose, especially when it is your very first job.
The first job moulds your career and sets a direction in which you will proceed. If you make the wrong choice, chances are you will stick to a profile you dislike forever.
Students who just passed out are always in a hurry to find a job. “I need to find a job now,” they tell themselves and stress out on earning money at the earliest. Nobody likes the questions people ask when one does not have a job.
Not having a job is a taboo in society. But do not give in to the pressure and grab any job which comes your way. If you fail to connect with the profile to a certain level, you will end up living a professional life of compromise.
3. Joining a Well-Known Company Irrespective of the Role
When well-known companies come in for campus recruitment, many students attend the interview and accept the offer. In half the cases, the role offered to the student isn’t even clear during the interviews.
I am a culprit myself who accepted such an offer from a well known MNC. I worked on various profiles for a couple of months. Out of some miraculous stroke of luck, I finally ended up in a programming job, which I always loved doing. Not everyone has that fortune.
Today, when I look around me, I notice employees working in Database Administration, Quality Assurance, Business Intelligence, and whatnot. They are in those roles not because they chose to, but because it was the only role their first organization offered them.
If you join a well-known company and pick any role thrown at you, your career will end up being that profile. Sure, you may earn a reasonable amount of money, but you won’t have job satisfaction.
Instead, you are much well off joining a startup that offers the right role. In the early days of your career, startups might seem like tedious work for the money paid.
If you think short term, you’re right. But small business ventures force you to work on a diverse set of roles, expanding your knowledge and exposure.
Compare that with an MNC which has enough money to afford a specialized resource for each aspect of the job. A programmer with 2 years of experience in a startup has way more exposure to different areas of programming. An equally experienced resource from an MNC would only have worked on one part.
4. Not Making an Early Change
You might make a mistake in choosing your first job. Circumstances, commitments, and bad judgment can lead you to join a role that does not suit you.
Making a mistake isn’t a big deal, sticking to one is.
The normal flow of choosing a profile works as follows:
- An employee joins his first job.
- He does not enjoy working, but sticks on to it for 2 years.
- After 2 years, moving to a different profile requires starting from scratch.
- Not willing to give up on the experience gained, he continues with the same profile.
The longer you stick to a job you hate, the harder you will find to make the switch.
5. Thinking You’re Capable of Doing Anything
You might have the confidence to deliver high performance in any role offered to you. While such courage is admirable, it is not the best approach to choosing a career.
Sure, you might have the ability to perform at any job, but you will not enjoy working. The first few years of professional life start with a lot of fire in the belly. You will find all the motivation you need spilling right off your gut irrespective of the job.
A few years later, you will no longer muster the strength to pull yourself out of bed if you do not resonate with your job. I am not saying that you must only choose your dream job.
Pick a job where you do not curse your fate and your manager for the rest of your life.
If you are capable of doing anything, you will flourish and prosper if you choose to do what you’re good at.
6. Switching Jobs Based on Higher Pay Than the Scope for Learning
Quite a few beliefs are floating around in the market.
- Every 2 years, you must switch and join another company.
- Moving to another company is the only way to earn a higher package.
You can get a maximum of 30% hike when you move to another organization
Staying in the same company, but learning new things can also fetch you a massive hike. All you need is high skills. If you have them, the right company will pay you.
If you are among the top cream of employees in your area of expertise, you can even demand 10x of your current salary. But to reach that level of skill, you must put in the effort every single day of your working life, which most people won’t.
Are your skills as good as the employees from a top-paying firm?
To give an example, if you are a programmer, do you think you have the programming skills to bag an offer at Google or Facebook? If yes, you can always get to that salary irrespective of your current salary or tenure in the company.
When a recruiter from a firm isn’t willing to pay you more than 30–50% of your current salary, it implies, your skills are just like the others from the market or marginally better. The recruiter knows that if not you, somebody else can deliver the same results.
The right time to switch companies is when you are not learning anything new. But people have the mindset of changing jobs for the sole purpose of money even if the new one is less exciting.
When you switch with the intention of learning and improving your skills, the salary will take care of itself.
7. Sticking to a Specific Location
When I picked my first job, I wanted to live close to the location where I was born and brought up.
Many people fixate on the location and do not pick any offers outside that location. Very few of those people have a valid reason to do so, such as an ailing family member. Others choose a location for the comfort of familiarity and fear of uncertainty.
As a young professional, you must work at a location that suits your career growth the best. Working at an unfamiliar city seems hard at first but makes you more robust and daring a few years later.
Take a few risks early in your career. A few years later, you may not have the opportunity anymore.
How to Make the Right Career Choices?
Here are a few tips to change your thinking regarding your career.
1. Ask Yourself a Few Questions:
When you choose a job, ask yourself the following questions which help you self introspect.
- Will I resonate with this profile?
- Will I enjoy doing this for the rest of my life?
- Would I consider doing this job if I wasn’t paid?
- Will I have the opportunity to learn and grow?
- Does this job have any significant benefits other than the money?
If you find yourself answering most of these questions with an outright no, you are making a wrong choice.
2. Keep an Open Mind
Your decision should sprout from your choices. Adhering to a career due to parental pressure or societal norms can spell doom on your career.
No matter what anyone tells you, pick the choice which seems right for you. You must talk to different people to understand their thought process but never take their inputs at face value. I am not saying people will lie to you, but no one knows what’s best for your career better than you do.
Pick a career that you can connect to, set SMART Goals to accomplish your dream and go get there.
3. Correct a Wrong Decision ASAP
I have made many wrong decisions in my business ventures. Earlier, I have prolonged the wrong decision for a long time and faced the consequences. Today, I have learned to cut the cord to prevent carrying baggage from an incorrect choice.
If you make a wrong choice in your career, cut your losses as soon as possible and move on. If you find yourself in the wrong job, start looking for another one right away. Answering the question, “Why are you quitting so soon?” isn’t hard to answer.
The distance, the direction, and the pace of your career are within your control. You can blame the market, your peers, or the society all you want. But where your career stands are based on your actions and thought process.
“If you don’t feel it, flee from it. Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.” — Paul F. Davis