College students, recent graduates, and new professionals have it rough. There are so many career misconceptions out there about career search and career development. There’s a lot to learn. As an admissions adviser, I hear some misconceptions early on, even in high school! Here are some common career search misconceptions:
So this career misconception is definitely floating around in high school and college campuses. Seriously though, it feels like half my job is demystifying it. However, most career paths are not linear. What does that mean? Well it means that an art major can go to medical school, an engineer can become a teacher, and a lawyer can go into tech. People from all walks of life and experiences find themselves pivoting into different careers and industries all the time. Especially in this day and age. I, myself, am an admissions adviser looking to move into marketing. Majors are important because they can introduce you to what you like and give you ideas of the types of careers you’d like to pursue. But getting a college degree is more about getting transferable skills.
If you don’t know what transferable skills are, don’t worry, I got you! Transferable skills are skills that translate into any job, industry, or role. Basically they’re universal skills, needed to do any kind of job. Some of the most common transferable skills include communication, teamwork, problem solving, and time management. If I’m not mistaken, I think those might actually be the top 5 most wanted skills in almost any job. So to put it simply, transferable skills can be earned through most majors and are needed for most jobs. Hopefully that takes away some of the pressure of picking the “perfect” major or having “buyers remorse” if you’ve already graduated.
All this to say that if you are feeling some “buyers remorse” as a recent graduate or a new professional, you can still switch career paths, so long as you have the right skill sets. Not sure which career path you’re hoping for, check out this article.
Here are some other new vocab words. What are hard skills and soft skills? Hard skills are technical skills. They can be measured and are specifically demonstrated. For example, if you’re an engineer, you would need to know how to use certain software and tools. If you’re a surgeon, well you should probably know how to hold a scalpel steady. On the flip side, soft skills are ones that are not tied to a specific job, industry, or role. They’re generally more transferable and can be learned via more avenues. Generally soft skills tend to be more transferable. Which is why skills like communication and teamwork are found in both skill types.
If you do a Google search for “top skills employers look for,” what comes up? Let me tell you: 1. critical thinking/problem solving, 2. teamwork/collaboration, 3. professionalism and strong work ethic, 4. strong oral and written communications skills, and 5. Leadership. What do all of these have in common? Well they’re all soft skills. So as important as it is to have those technical, hard skills to get a competitive edge, soft skills are foundational. There’s no way around soft skills if you hope to be considered for most jobs. Keep that in mind.
Have you heard: “There's no such thing as bad publicity”? While I don’t know if that's true or not, what I can say is that there’s no such thing as experience that doesn’t count. Whether you get paid or not, all experience is valid when it comes to the career search. Internships, part-time jobs, clubs, side gigs. All are valid in the world of experience. Remember, career paths are not linear so there are different ways of getting there and that includes different experiences. And you want to know why? Yup, you guessed it: transferable skills. So make sure whatever experience you do, that the skills you are learning are ones that your career requires.
This one is a hard pill to swallow. Especially if you’re an introvert or someone who dreads networking. But the world can be a cruel place with hard truths and the hard truth here is that connections are important. 85% people land jobs through networking. Personally, it took me too long to understand this fact. I thought that overworking myself would get me the promotions I wanted. However, now I know that you can do all the work but if no one knows you’re doing it, then you’re not going to get recognized. Luckily, if you’re new to the networking game, we have you covered: read this networking article.
Knowing how to network will make you work smarter, not harder. So make sure you are collecting good experiences but also talk to people about what you’re doing and where you’re hoping to go.
Lastly, I want to clarify that doesn’t mean you don’t need any experience to land jobs. You still need certain skills but it will be easier to get interviews and job offers if you know someone who can advocate for you internally.
Unfortunately, job searching isn’t a numbers game. It’s not like the more applications you have, the higher your chances. Why not? Well connections come into play. But also the real problem with this misconception is that it assumes you can submit the same resume and cover letter to each job. And that’s just wrong. Resumes and cover letters should ideally be customized to each job position to best match the requirements. Not sure how to write a resume or cover letter? We have resume basics and cover letter 101 articles. We also have a list of recommended sites that can best help you write or revamp your resume, tailor your resume to each job description, and help you write cover letters. You need to be signed into Jobtrees to see all of the recommendations, but don't worry, it's free to sign in or sign up. If you’re curious on how to start your career search in general, I recommend reading this article.
There are other career misconceptions that turn up during different parts of the career search. Subscribe to our free blog to read part II of this article.
Article written by Leticia Garay