Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Monday, September 29, 2008

5 Ways to Look at Negatives of Career Options

When you don’t work in a career, it’s hard to know what it would be like to work in it. In the process of choosing a career, it’s common to learn negative things about a career option like long hours, poor pay, few jobs, on the job stress, lack of job security, or physical demands. All careers have negatives so whatever you do, don’t ignore them. So how should you consider them? Here are 5 ways to look at negative information about careers as part of a good career decision.
  1. Consider the source. Is the negative information coming from one angry blogger? A friend who “heard” the information? A reputable resource like the Occupational Outlook Handbook? Someone with whom you did an informational interview? Multiple, reputable sources are better than just one or two who may lack the firsthand knowledge or objective viewpoint you need. Some people don’t like their jobs for a variety of reasons so the more people you talk to, the wider variety of viewpoints – and more accuracy, you’ll get.
  2. Dig deeper. Does a negative depend on what part of the country you’re in? (e.g., number of job openings) Or who you work for? Some employers make you work more hours than you would work if you were self-employed – or vice versa. Most careers exist in a variety of physical and social environments. Working for a nonprofit can be very different than working for a private company. Informational interviews will help you get the additional depth and perspective you need.
  3. Can you handle it? Based on your personal, past history, how well do you think you would handle the negative? Some people like flying by the seat of their pants. Others are more conservative. You may like physical labor and working outside – others don’t. Be honest about what you are willing to take on – your past behavior will help guide you.
  4. Are you willing to make sacrifices for long-term goals? If you want the admiration and fame of being a collegiate sports team coach, are you willing to put up with job insecurity (depending on the success/failure of your team) and moving around to different geographic locations? If you want the larger pay and prestige of a job in a big law firm, do you want to put in the grunt work, long hours and job stress to get there? Every job has its “dues” and are you willing to pay them?
  5. Follow the ACIP model of career decision-making. Take into account all the negatives and positives of the careers you’re thinking about and see how they balance out. The four steps are: consider all your alternatives (A), think about the consequences of following each option (C), get all the information you can about your options (I), and plan out your next steps of your decision (P).
Nobody said life was easy or money grows on trees (well actually, they did - see recent financial turmoil), but if you know what you’re getting into with a career choice and make plans for dealing with the challenges that come up, the more likely you are to succeed.

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