Career Beliefs. What are they, where do they come from and which are getting in your way?
What assumptions or beliefs do you hold around the world of work and where you fit into it? We all grow up being influenced by the unique collection or environments we find ourselves in. Whether it’s your family, your school or the country you’re born in, all of these environments will come to influence what you believe is possible in your career.
Why do these beliefs matter? The short answer is that these beliefs can subconsciously make you limit your own options and underrate your own potential. Once you do start to understand the career beliefs you hold, you will be able to select which of the beliefs you choose to buy into. Here is a list of some of the classic career beliefs that hold many of us back!
That is a job for a specific gender
Most of us are very young when we begin forming our beliefs and biases that link certain careers with certain genders. It might be that you think primary teaching or nursing are jobs more suited to women or that working in engineering or as part of Fire and Rescue are roles for men. The catch is that when these beliefs are left unchallenged they can often stick with you for life
Shifting these biases can actually be quite simple once you know that they exist. The key is to become conscious of when you do link a certain job with a certain gender and challenge that belief. Is it really true and have there been strong examples of people you know or role models who have defied your bias? This is particularly important if you are thinking of pursuing a career where there is a strong gender bias.
That job is not important
As with gender role association, in primary school, we also start to create a subconscious mapping around what jobs we believe are more important than others. This belief can empower students to move into essential roles like medicine, but it can also devalue many of the important jobs which make up the fabric of society.
Imagine a world without people looking after the elderly, picking up the rubbish or refilling the shelves at the supermarket. Although COVID has changed many people’s perceptions on how essential many of these roles are, if there had been no-one to do these roles in recent times we’d have had a huge problem. However, these are a few of the jobs that people typically consider to be low in the ranking of ‘important’ jobs. This belief might be limiting your willingness to follow a career potentially seen as less socially valued, regardless of how important or essential they actually are. Question these beliefs because society relies on a diversity of roles and it is not just the ‘high profile’ roles that matter.
I need to go to university to get a good job
We currently live in a university-biased culture. Access to a university education has steadily increased over the last fifty years and what used to be a style of education only available to a small portion of society has come to be considered by many as the only path to finding a ‘good job’. For many jobs, a university education is a great asset and in some cases essential, but it is not for everyone. It is important to change the belief that there is only the university pathway to finding your dream job. Many alternative pathways such as TAFE, apprenticeships or on the job training are just as valid.
I am not smart enough for that job
For this career belief, the notion of growth mindset and the work of psychologist Carol Dweck provides some insights into the idea that you can learn and grow your skill set through practice and experience. As opposed to a fixed mindset where the assumption that abilities and skills are genetically determined or fixed.
The truth is that if you are willing to invest the time and effort building a certain skill, such as improving your maths, you would be able to do it. Your brain is designed to grow and learn and the more you fire your learning power up, the more it will grow. Try not to be limited by the belief that you are not smart enough for something. Challenge yourself, dig deep and practice hard.
I don’t have all of the qualifications for that role so I shouldn’t apply
There is a widely cited statistic from a 2014 Harvard Business Review blog and a supporting statistic from a 2019 LinkedIn Gender Insights Report that highlights men are far more likely to apply for a role even if they only have 60% of the qualifications required. However, women tend only to apply if they have all of the qualifications. While the ‘I don’t have enough experience, so I won’t try and apply’ belief is something many people suffer from, it is something which particularly affected women
Often when hiring for a role it is not about finding a candidate with 100% of the skills as they are likely to get bored quickly, but it is about finding someone who has the right attitude and transferable skills that can grow into the role. Don’t sell yourself short, apply for the role. What’s the worst they can say?
These are just some of the common career beliefs that hold people back. Take some time to consider how any of these beliefs may be impacting your career and future pathways and work on ways to challenge them.