Common Misconceptions About Career Management

Julie Shenkman
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You get your clothes cleaned when they’re dirty. You pay your bills each month. You see your doctor once or twice a year. You send cards to family-members at each birthday. So, why is it that most people (maybe even you!) don’t integrate career management into their regular routine?

Most individuals have a reactive – not a “proactive” – approach to their careers. Thinking that you only need to “fix your career when it’s broken” (i.e., when you’re laid off, downsized or just plain miserable) is a very unfortunate misconception that will seriously limit your career success!

Here are 10 other common misconceptions about career management:

1. The most qualified candidate gets the job offer.

WRONG! Many times candidates with lesser qualifications get job offers simply because they’ve prepared and presented themselves in a more compelling way. In other words, they’re better self-marketers! Being "qualified" is not enough. You must CONVINCE the employer that you're the best candidate for the job.

2. As long as I have a job, I don’t have to work on my career.

WRONG! Even if you’re employed today, you never know what may happen tomorrow! To avoid a career disaster, you should incorporate “Perpetual Career Management” into your professional life. Vital tasks like keeping your Accomplishment Stories up to date, or networking regularly with professionals in your industry, should be incorporated into your regular routine.

3. My professional education stopped when I graduated from school.

WRONG! You should always look for ways to advance your professional knowledge. Attending seminars, reading trade journals, pursuing certifications, etc. – these activities should be a part of your ongoing professional development process. It’s imperative that every professional remain current in his or her field.

4. Employers always offer the most generous compensation they can afford.

WRONG! Employers expect that you’ve done salary research, and they anticipate dynamic negotiations. In fact, they’ll often be disappointed and question your candidacy if you DON'T negotiate. Employers usually state a low salary offer merely as a “trial balloon,” to see how you’ll react – and there’s almost always room to improve on the initial compensation offer.

5. If I just do a good job, my position will be secure.

WRONG! With corporate mergers, downsizings, outsourcing and a shaky economy, NO job is secure. You must take full responsibility for your own career security.

6. My résumé is the only document I need to search for a job.

WRONG! Your résumé is just one of the 10 “tools” you need in your “Job Seeker’s Tool Kit.” In order to land a quality position in today’s market, you’ll also need Accomplishment Stories, Positioning and Exit Statements, a Professional Biography, a Target Company List, and many other vital components.

7. Recruiters will find me a job, so I don't have to search for jobs myself.

WRONG! Although recruiters can be helpful, the most successful way to find a new opportunity in today’s job market is through networking. It’s fine to use Executive Search Firms, but they’re just one vehicle for you to leverage. Only YOU can find you a new job.

8. Employers are responsible for managing my career path.

WRONG! This statement might have been true in our father’s or grandfather’s time. But now, it’s “every man for himself.” Only YOU have the power to take control of your career and manage it for success. So, make the most of it! Get support and guidance from a qualified Career Consultant if you feel that this would be helpful.

9. Networking is only for entrepreneurs and jobseekers – I don’t need to network now.

WRONG! It’s a smart career move to ALWAYS be networking, no matter what’s going in your professional life. If you don’t need help at this time, build-up your networking power by helping others. Consistent, effective networking will always pay big dividends! It’s just a natural part of ongoing career management.

10. Most good jobs are listed on Internet job sites and in newspapers, so they’re easy to identify.

WRONG! Only one percent of job postings that are on the Web or in newspapers are any good! And that’s where you'll be competing against 99% of all the other job seekers! Since these odds are not in your favor, you should spend VERY LITTLE time on this search technique – and instead, focus almost all of your time and energy on networking!

Now that you’re familiar with these deadly career misconceptions, you can easily reverse them to have a very positive impact on your career. The first step is to change your thinking, and then to practice productive new behaviors in a consistent manner!

Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2006, Ford R. Myers and Career Potential, LLC.

Ford R. Myers, career expert and author, is creator of The Ultimate Career Guide. Visit

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