Common Career Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
When looking for a job, frame your search around the type of work that suits you best.
Choosing a career is generally not a one-time decision; it’s a series of decisions, made as you progress through different stages of life, experience, and responsibility. As we move from one stage of life into another, we begin to adapt our lifestyles and family commitments to conform to our present employment needs or demands. However, this adaptation might not be the best way to approach career decisions. In fact, because the majority of us are not satisfied with our current jobs, it seems obvious that the way we adapt our lifestyles to fit our current employment demands has been in error. As such, most of us need to unlearn the errors and then learn the truth regarding career decisions.
Common errors when making career decisions
The following are the eight most common career-choice errors.
- Choosing the first or easiest job you can get. To choose a job based on its ease is not being a good steward of the talents and abilities that God has given (Proverbs 13:4). Our goal should always be to move into areas in which we are using our strongest talents and abilities in our work.
- Choosing a job based on salary. This error is so established in our culture that it’ll take a strong commitment to faith in God’s guidance to choose a job based on talents, rather than on salary. A job chosen based on salary will not be satisfying (Ecclesiastes 5:10). God will supply our needs if we trust Him totally.
- Choosing a job because it provides a good title. Doing what you’re good at and what you enjoy is generally a far better consideration in choosing a career than selecting a title and doing the work that accompanies it (Proverbs 12:9).
- Taking a job just because management offers it. Discuss your work-related attributes with your employer to indicate the areas that will be the best fit for you. You may be better off expanding your area of responsibility in your present job, instead of moving away from your skills and area of expertise.
- Choosing a job because that’s what your parents do. Don’t choose a career track because that’s what your parents do. God has created you to be unique. Discover that uniqueness and develop your career plans around it.
- Choosing a job to fulfill your parents' unfulfilled dream. Parents must be careful not to steer their children to something they themselves would like; rather, children should be encouraged to follow a career path that best suits their God-given talents and abilities.
- Choosing a job just because you have the minimum ability to do it. There are many jobs we can do, but they are not necessarily God’s plan for us. Usually His plan also involves our strongest skills, our personalities, and our motivations.
How to make good career decisions
The following are eight steps we should take as we prepare to make career decisions.
- Clarify your purpose in life. Place your life in God’s hands and trust His guidance completely (Ephesians 2:10). He will show you how your talents and abilities can best be used to glorify Him.
- Discover your natural inclinations and how to use them effectively. Understand how God has gifted you. Consider your abilities, talents, personality strengths, values, and principles.
- Investigate several occupations that fit your talents and personality. Concentrate on jobs that are a potential good fit. Read, interview people, and visit job sites in order to identify jobs that best suit your talent profile.
- Seek God’s confirmation. Continue to pray specifically for God’s direction in your search and His leading in your decision. Share your desire with other mature, trusted Christians and seek their counsel.
- Choose your initial destination and develop a plan to get there. This might include specialized inner company education, special training, on-campus education, or correspondence courses. Develop a resumé that reflects your talents, desires, and abilities.
- Learn to manage your career. If your chosen career demands compliance or change in order to maintain productivity, to keep up with the ever-changing technological world, or to be competitive, you must learn how to adjust. Hone and tailor your talents to assure compatibility.
- Become a lifelong learner. We must study both God’s Word and our vocations in order to show ourselves approved by both God and management. This is most essential in today’s fast paced world of constant change and innovation. Employees who do not “keep up” with these changes may find themselves left behind, regardless of their talents, experience, or company seniority.
- Refine your career as you progress. After you’re in a job you’ll see areas that need improving and developing. However, be careful to avoid areas in which you are not suited or qualified, based on your talents and abilities.
Too often we work things backwards. We decide on the results we want and then pray that God will bless our decision, and we try desperately to fit into the mold that is demanded. When we do this, we deny Him full control and we deny ourselves a career that is compatible with our God-given gifts and talents. If we are going to be successful in career selection decisions, we must identify our talents, abilities, and personalities; understand how they can best be used; and then turn the results over to God.
Adapted from the article "Making Career Decisions," courtesy of Crown Financial Ministries. Copyright © 2007 Crown Financial Ministries. Used with permission. All rights reserved.