7 Career Myths Exposed

We have manage our careers just like we manage other things in our lives. We manage our finances by closely scrutinizing our income and expenditures in relation to how we would like them to function, making adjustments all along the way. We manage our time by observing how we spend it in relation to how we would like to spend it, again, making adjustments all along the way. Our careers are no different.

Managing your career is not always easy. Suggestions abound that sound good on the surface, but in reality are simply just myths that you should avoid. Here’s 7 career myths you should watch out for:

Myth #1: It’s more important to be liked than to be respected.

NEVER sacrifice respect for likability. While it is important to your career to be liked (after all, no one wants to work with or help a jerk), it’s more important to garner respect. If no one takes you seriously because you’ve focused the bulk of your career on being funny, being the office punching bag, or being the office “yes” person, you will find it extremely difficult to advance your career.

Being liked has no corporate advantage to you or your career. What does this mean? Though it can be scary or difficult to express a differing opinion or to give negative feedback, these are both requirements of being a great leader. Being the leader isn’t always rosy so develop a network of support or validation outside of work, where you can be liked for who you really are.

Myth #2: Recognition is better than rewards.

Rewards, promotions, and recognition all are important in the corporate world, but those who only receive recognition are perceived as “stepped on” or as being “tossed a bone.” Many employees, however, are willing to settle for recognition alone. They are afraid to request raises and promotions when they deserve them and are likely to take on extra work without any extra benefit. One of the key principles of negotiation is to always “ask for a trade off.” Never allow someone to ask you to do something out of the ordinary career wise, without getting something in return.

Keep a notebook handy to jot down any and all accomplishments that you can remember and update it daily! You can also prepare for your salary review by listing in exquisite detail all your work-related accomplishments, then do a little research on what similar careers in your industry earn.

If you do decide to take on extra work without pay, make sure you only accept those projects that will bring you recognition by landing you in front of your boss or your bosses boss. This can be a chess game with you making only the moves that benefit your career.

Myth #3: Conflict is bad for your career.

Don’t be afraid that conflict will ruin your career. In reality, a little bit of conflict can actually be good for it. Some studies suggest that senior executives spend up to 40 percent of the day managing conflict, so this is an essential skill for your career advancement. Take a conflict management course, determine your conflict style and choose your battles carefully.

How you handle things that DON’T go perfectly will say more about you than how you handle things that do. Anyone off the street can manage when everything is going right. It’s the fortitude, judgment, and skills you use during a conflict that will help you advance in your career. Welcome those problems and challenges.

Myth #4: Letting your career “just happen.”

Never let these words come out of your mouth: “My career just happened.” Everything in your life is the result of some sort of choice you made. If you are clear on what your passion is, you must set a career plan in place and define your end-goal. We do this when thinking about the car we want to drive, or the house we want, so why do we just let our “careers just happen?”

Myth #5: The team’s needs must reign supreme.

Actually, no one set of needs should overshadow another. There must be a balance between the team and yourself. While being an effective team player is critical in any business, Myth #6 is placing the needs of your team ahead of your own. The company is not your family. Help the team meet its goals, but never forget the fact that you and your career have personal and professional needs that must be met as well.

Never hesitate to ask for what you need.

Myth #6: Playing it safe is the best bet.

The risk takers in an organization often score huge bonus points for their careers. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone to try new things in your career. Forget about making sure “all your ducks are in a row” and don’t worry about being perfect. Make sure you don’t pick “safe” jobs rather than “stretch” jobs. The “stretch” jobs will cause you to grow in ways you never expected.

Playing it safe is not the best way to advance your career!

Myth #7: It isn’t nice to brag.

Learn how to take a compliment and learn how to promote yourself. If you get a compliment from a customer, another department head, or a vendor, make sure your boss knows it — if you receive a praising e-mail, for example, forward it to him or her. For those who feel uncomfortable tooting their own horn, consider it as “updating” people concerning your career accomplishments.