This post is inspired by a recent conversation with a friend of mine, who, it turns out, was making career decisions based upon assumptions, not facts. This friend was interested in pursuing a career in a highly specialized healthcare field, and picked her current major believing the coursework would satisfy the necessary prerequisites for this career. Being an experienced career coach, I knew this was not the case. However, rather than outright telling her this was not the appropriate route, I decided to ask questions to determine where she had received this information. For example, I asked if she had researched any specific schools that she was interested in attending and received information regarding this career field and the prerequisites. After receiving her responses my fears were confirmed, and I was forced to conclude that she was operating on assumptions. This conversation led me to realize how our own assumptions can lead to the wasting of significant time, energy, and money, and likely lead to disappointment. Here are some tactics to avoid career errors caused by assumptions.
Get the facts. Solely relying on the opinions of others is a research fail. I recommend getting hardcore numbers and official information regarding your career of interest. Sources such O*Net or the Occupational Outlook Handbook are a great place to find statistics on salary trends, expected demand, required experience, education, and much more.
Go to those you trust, but verify. Consider the perspective of the person that is providing you with the information. If you are speaking to a professional for career advice, ask them to point you to some sources to help you with your own research.
Remember that things change. What was true about careers yesterday is likely not true today. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends regarding your field of interest. If you’re in the midst of studying a career, consider joining a related professional organization or subscribing to related publications. LinkedIn is very easy means by which to join groups organized around a specific career field.
Making assumptions based upon the opinions of others, fear, or an unwillingness to work can prove to be very costly. On the contrary, conducting research from reputable sources can give you the assurance you need to embark into the career path you choose.