Guest Post: Five Reasons Not to Pick a Career

A guest post by Josh Weiss-Roessler

There are a lot of factors you have to consider when you’re embarking on a new career. For example, will the job require you to live in a certain location? Does it require an advanced degree? Does it involve working from home or in an office environment? While there are a lot of different aspects of every career that are worth your consideration, there are also lots of bad reasons for choosing a job. Here are five of the worst.

Great pay, life and death stress every day.

1. Salary or perks. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a high-paying job so that you and your family can live comfortably. However, the salary shouldn’t be the sole thing about the job that appeals to you. I’ve worked with high school students who have told me they want to be doctors, and when I’ve asked them why, their first response has been, “Because doctors make a lot of money.” They were generally unaware of the cost and time commitment of medical school, and the demanding, stressful working conditions that doctors face every day. If a career appeals to you because of its salary or benefits, ask yourself what else it is you like about it. If you can’t think of much, then it’s probably not the right career for you. For ideas on what may be right, take a few career tests.

2. It’s “easy work.” Maybe you breezed through all your math classes in high school and college and are thinking about teaching high school math because it comes easily to you. And, hey, you even get a summer break. Chances are, if you choose a career just because of its perceived ease, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised to find that it’s not as easy as you thought. Or, if it’s a job that’s too easy for you, it won’t challenge you to grow professionally and you run the risk of getting stuck in a rut.

3. It sounds impressive. Are you looking for a career in a certain field just because you want to be able to brag at your high school reunion? As is the case with salary, there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to an impressive career, but there is something wrong with choosing a job for the sake of your ego. Make sure that your career is something that you’ll actually enjoy doing every day, because there’s no point in having an impressive job title if you’re not happy with your work.

4. A career’s pop culture portrayal. Just because you love Mad Men doesn’t mean you should seek out a career in advertising, or seek out a career in archaeology because you love the Indiana Jones franchise. While TV shows and movies are entertaining, they don’t necessarily offer the most accurate portrayal of what different careers are really like. (Shocking, right?) If a career does appeal to you because of your favorite TV show, you should do research on a site like CareerQA and then try to find someone who actually works in that field to talk to – or better yet, see if you can job shadow or intern with someone in the field – in order to learn what it’s actually all about.

 5. Picking a career because it’s what your family wants you to do.

Your family wants what’s best for you, but they don’t necessarily know what career is right for you. When I was in high school, my dad tried to convince me that I should be a lawyer because I’m good at writing and researching, but even then I knew that was a career path that I just wouldn’t be happy with. It’s ultimately up to you to determine what career is going to be a good fit and be something that you enjoy. Remember, your career is going to be a huge part of your life, so you want to make sure you’re choosing it for the right reasons.

Josh Weiss-Roessler is co-owner of Weiss-Roessler Writing and frequently shares his thoughts on the job market and offers career advice. When his eye aren’t glazing over from staring at his computer screen, you’ll probably find him hanging out with his wife and one-year-old son or walking his dogs around Austin.

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