Misconceptions about Career Guidance
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Many of us may have at some point visited a career counsellor or psychologist to undergo an assessment of our interests and abilities to identify the right career path for us. Or at the very least, we’ve heard of the whole process of career guidance? As per the American Psychological Association (APA), career guidance / counselling involves doling out consultation or advice specifically that focuses on a person’s career opportunities, and is most often provided in educational, work, and some community settings. It takes into account an individual’s preferences, intelligence, skill sets, work values, and experience.
Like many other sub-fields in the world of psychology, this one too is fraught with various misconceptions. We have covered a couple of misconceptions pertaining to career guidance in a couple of our other posts, but we will elaborate on this a bit further in this article. So read on, and let’s bust some myths!
1. Career counsellors/psychologists tell you what to do with your life
A big misconception is that career counsellor or psychologists will be able to tell you exactly what you should do with your career. That is not true. They cannot predict everything and tell you with utmost certainty what occupation or career path will make YOU happy. And they definitely do not possess a crystal ball or magic lamp with a genie that pops out and declares the correct career for you.
What career counsellors or psychologists really do is help one understand where their interests and abilities lie, and how one may work with these to reach their desired career goals.
2. High Interest = High Ability/ High Ability = High Interest
Ability refers to an existing competence or skill to perform a specific physical or mental act. Although ability may be either innate or developed through experience, it is distinct from capacity to acquire competence.
Just because one may possess the skills or abilities required for a given role, that doesn’t mean that they should have the interest for the said role. Nor is it something to be disheartened over if one’s abilities or skill sets do not presently match the requirements of a job role. One may have to put in a little hard work to develop the skills or competencies, and if it is the kind of work that the individual may be deeply passionate about, they will be more driven to put in the necessary time and efforts.
3. Low ability in one’s interest = must not pursue said interest
Let’s take the case of a child who may want to pursue writing, but possibly needs to work on developing certain skills necessary for the line. However, the child is vey passionate about this path and is willing to work on their challenges. When undergoing a standardized psychometric career assessment, their results will help them identify both their strengths and areas that require development, and with the proper guidance, they can develop the skills over time.
Yes, someone with a stronger ability may find it easier to handle the role, but someone who doesn’t possess the same level or is lesser equipped may have to work a bit harder to pursue the same role.
4. Good academic performance = higher likelihood of success in one’s chosen career path
Very often, we assume that doing well in school or college and getting perfect grades will ensure that we get a good high paying job or give us better chances of success in our career. However, that may not always be the case.
First of all, every job role is different. Most organizations or employers seek out candidates who are not just highly qualified, but also possess the technical expertise required for the role, interpersonal skills, relevant work experience, etc.
All these are not necessarily picked up in the classroom, and may be developed independent of one’s academic performance.
5. Hobbies cannot become careers
Parents and students alike are often wary of turning a seemingly simple hobby like photography or writing into a full-fledged career. Traditionally, and especially in Indian society, the accepted career paths were related to academics, medicine, law, engineering and the like. Anything other than that has sadly been perceived as low or unstable or not financially secure and therefore was not encouraged.
However, that is not always the case nowadays.
With proper planning, coaching and dedication, these simple hobbies can also be turned into rewarding careers.
6. Once you pick a career, you cannot change it later.
One big fear that is common amongst many is that once you choose a career path, you have to stick with it for life. However, it doesn’t have to be the case. In today’s world, which presents so many new opportunities and is constantly evolving, one may suddenly chance upon a lucrative opportunity which may have not been so popular before. Or they may have picked a path in their younger days due to peer pressure and are now realizing it isn’t really the one for them. Whatever be the reason, one can switch paths or club their existing role with something entirely different. It may be different or require hard work and persistence, but it is possible.
Career development takes place throughout life, after all.
In conclusion, Career guidance provides a platform where in one may address various confusions and doubts. It helps identify various obstacles and overcome them so that one may reach one’s career goals.
1. VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2015). APA dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14646-000