career decision

5 Career Decision Mistakes People Make (And How to Avoid Them)

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When faced with a career decision, it’s important avoid the common mistakes most people make. What are those mistakes? Let’s take a look.

Mistake #1: Assuming there’s such a thing as a perfect job

Recently, a former client contacted me to help him again with another job search. When I previously worked with him, he found what he referred to as his “dream job,” and has loved it the entire time he’s worked there. Unfortunately, the company recently downsized several staff members, including him.

Because of the layoff, he shared he was disenchanted with the idea of a dream job. I reminded him not to confuse “dream job” with “perfect job.” No job is perfect. There will always be something imperfect about every job. This can include it ending sooner than expected.

I reminded him it’s important to maintain realistic expectations in the career decision process, and showed him how to do this.

You can also learn how to set realistic expectations in your own career. Find out how in my post, “Is There Such a Thing As the Perfect Job?”

Is There Such a Thing As the Perfect Job? No (and Yes)!

Mistake #2: Assuming a job with benefits provides security

The previous scenario brings me to the next mistake people frequently make in their career decisions. They think they’re gaining security by accepting an offer with a good salary and good benefits. And this may be true for a time. But most jobs are not permanent, and therefore do not provide permanent security.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past four years, it’s things change. Luckily, my former client had previously purchased some extra coaching sessions with me for when something might come up in his career. Because of this, he was able to call me immediately and schedule a session right away upon his layoff.

To learn how to be prepared for a potential loss of income and financial security, check out my post, “Your Job Provides You Security. Until It Doesn’t. Then What?”

Your Job Provides You Security. Until It Doesn’t. Then What?

Mistake #3: Making the career decision all about money

Since the pandemic, I think many people have come to realize money isn’t everything in a job. The desire for more flexibility and work-life balance are proof of this.

But there are still people who make their career decisions solely based on money. It’s these people who end up unhappy and stressed out. I see it all the time from those coming to me ready for a change. They regretfully realize what they’ve sacrificed for a paycheck and nothing more.

In fact, one of my former clients talks about, how once he left his ill-fitting high-paying job for work he was passionate about, the paycheck was no longer as important as he originally thought. (See my post, “You Don’t Have to Be a Slave To a Paycheck”.)

Yes, there are times when I talk about how important it is to negotiate a fair salary, but you can’t base all your career decisions on salary alone.

You Don’t Have To Be a Slave To a Paycheck

Mistake #4: Thinking a career decision is permanent

When I used to work with college students, they often would stress out about choosing a major. They feared whatever they chose, they would be stuck in their field of study for the rest of their working lives.

I had to remind them that deciding on a major is not a major decision. Yes, it’s an important one, but it’s not a make-or-break decision. Even if they were going into a specialized career path, they were not bound by their decision the entirety of their career.

For example, my best friend went to nursing school and became one of the best nurses a patient could ask for. Then, she transitioned into a career in pharmaceutical sales. She’s moved between these two paths a couple more times in her career.

Most of my clients have had various job and career changes, even prior to working with me. And I’m sure my past students have had several career changes since graduating. Even though I’ve been providing career advice my entire career, I’ve also done so in a variety of capacities and in different industries, including higher education, the music industry, and my own practice. This is evidence of the statistic indicating the average American will hold a dozen different jobs in their lifetime.

Again, nothing is permanent (see mistake #2). Things change, business changes, your interests and skills change. You never know what you might be led to do next. It could be a job or a career path not even invented yet.

For tips on how to be ready and flexible for a career change, check out my post entitled, “What Happens When Your Passion Disrupts Your Career?”

What Happens When Your Passion Disrupts Your Career?

Mistake #5: Going it alone

Making a career decision is no different from making other significant life decisions, like buying a new home. You likely wouldn’t try to buy a new house without the help of a realtor. So why would you make a career decision without the help and expertise of a career coach?

Click here to find out how a career coach can teach you to successfully ride the waves of an ever-changing job market.

How Do You Successfully Ride the Waves of an Unpredictable Job Market?

Related posts

How to Avoid These 5 Career Mistakes During a Time of Panic, including:

  • Taking the very first job you’re offered
  • Not negotiating better benefits
  • Going back to school when you can’t find a job
  • and more!

How to Avoid Career Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Career, such as:

  • Accepting a counter offer from your current employer
  • Relying on just one source of income
  • and more!

What Are the Biggest Career Mistakes You Should Avoid? This includes:

  • Making career decisions someone else is pushing you to make
  • Making career decisions based solely on money

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