At some point or another, many of us begin to feel “stuck” in our careers, wondering why we haven’t made more progress. After devoting years to a company, all we really have to show for it is a nasty case of boredom.
If you’re feeling this way, it’s possible that you may be holding onto some career “truths” that no longer ring true today. Unlocking and rejecting these modern-day myths could be the key to reaching your potential and feeling fulfilled in work and life.
In this article, we will squash 3 common career myths for good so you can get the clarity and confidence you need to move forward.
Traditional career advice has always been to avoid gaps in your resume. Any gaps in employment, we were told, would be scrutinized and subsequently get our resumes tossed in the bin.
But following the Great Resignation, the stigma on career gaps has lessened. So, as an HR-recruiter-turned-career coach, I’m here to tell you it’s time to put that misconception to bed.
Taking a step back from the traditional career path is no longer a step backward.
Taking a career break (for whatever reason) is okay. Often, it’s even considered great for your personal and professional development.
Career breaks can improve your marketable skills by allowing you to explore other interests or pursue personal growth opportunities. So whether you take a break to travel the world, to focus on your family, or simply to take time to recharge, it is an opportunity to gain valuable experiences and insights that will only enhance your employability.
If you want to frame your career break in a positive light, be the one to bring it up first. Today, employers are increasingly recognizing the value of a career break, so they’re more open to the idea that your time off led to personal growth, increased skill sets, or even a renewed sense of purpose.
According to Forbes, half of employers (52%) appreciate candidates who proactively address a career break by highlighting what they learned in the interim.
In fact, the LinkedIn data used in that article further revealed that attitudes are evolving. 63% of the 4,000 hiring managers surveyed claimed that they’re “more likely” than they were before the pandemic to hire someone who has taken a break from work—with 46% of them going so far as to say they see candidates with career breaks as “an untapped talent pool.”
So don’t wait to be asked about that year-long gap in your interviews. Tell the interviewer the reason behind it, but most importantly, tell them as a means of showcasing what you learned.
Maybe you honed a new perspective while caring for an aging parent or gained a new skill during a wellness break. Even the experiences you had while traveling abroad taught you something.
Tell the story—and then connect the lessons gained from that story to the role you’re hoping to fill.
For what it’s worth, you don’t even have to wait for the interview to start addressing your career break. Start with LinkedIn’s Career Breaks feature to show you are proactive and self-aware.
It allows you to effectively explain why you left the workforce and any skills you gained to recruiters and hiring managers. With 13 categories to choose from, including travel, career transition, health and well-being, full-time parenting, bereavement, caregiving, a gap year, layoff, or other life needs or experiences, you can showcase your unique journey in its best light.
According to research by The Sabbatical Project, 80 percent of people who take sabbaticals report feeling refreshed and more energized when they return to work. (I can attest; tune into my story.) As a result, the number of people taking sabbaticals has tripled since 2019.
So, if you are lucky enough to work for an employer who offers a sabbatical program or supports extended breaks for personal projects or passions, don’t hesitate to seize this opportunity and make the most of it.
Not only will taking advantage of employer support for career breaks impress your current boss, it will also make you more attractive to potential employers. It shows that you are proactive in seeking new challenges, expanding your skill set, and taking control of your career. Your future self will thank you.
In the world of traditional employment, we have been conditioned to believe that working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is the key to success. However, it’s time for us to shift our mindset and consider alternative career approaches. Because working smarter—not harder—is what leads to more meaningful achievements.
The good news is that the nature of work is evolving in today’s gig economy.
One way to break free from the traditional work model is by embracing project-based work. Instead of being tied down to a traditional 40-hour workweek, we have the flexibility to take on projects that excite us and fit into our desired schedules.
“Flash teams” bring together skilled individuals for specific projects—and without the hassle of onboarding. Each person is simply there to do their part and get the thing done. Best of all, this type of work allows you to explore different industries, diversify your skillset, and expand your network.
Project-based work appears to be the future of work, and that idea is super inspiring to me. Now, we get to choose projects aligned with our skills and interests, gaining better control over our time and our exposure to diverse industries
But getting paid by the project means generating a shift—from your time to your value. You’ll have to start by demonstrating the value you bring to the table rather than the number of hours you can give. By making this shift, you can begin negotiating fairer compensation and creating a work-life balance that suits our needs.
As children, we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. In college, we are encouraged to select one major. At work, we are assigned one job title.
The message is clear: You can only pick one thing.
But it’s time to bust the myth that you must pick just one thing.
As the traditional, linear career path becomes outdated, more and more people are embracing “portfolio careers,” which often include full-time or part-time employment mixed with side hustles, project-based work, or work as a consultant.
With a portfolio career, you get to work in unrelated roles, receive various sources of income, and pursue a mix of your most heart-based interests—and it can be a game-changer for your life.
Portfolio careers offer three main benefits:
Rather than being limited to one job or profession, a portfolio career allows you to explore and pursue your various passions and interests.
By following your heart and aligning your career choices with your values and interests, you can craft a unique, diverse portfolio of work.
With a portfolio career, changing job markets and economic trends will no longer threaten you like they did before.
Instead of relying on one source of income or one job, you’ll have a variety of income streams and opportunities to fall back on—giving you more financial security and peace of mind in times of uncertainty.
The gig economy has brought with it unprecedented flexibility. There has never been a better time to design a career that suits your unique needs and aspirations.
Tapping into different industries and diversifying your professional experiences allows you to continually learn and expand the skillsets you bring to any table. This enhances your employability and opens up new opportunities for growth and development.
Tune into my interview with Cassie Spencer and hear how she’s crafted her portfolio career.
Take Action: How To Craft Your Portfolio Career One Step At A Time
Step 1: Engage in HEART-based career planning.
On your own or with a career coach, take time to reflect on your passions, values, and transferable skills. By understanding what truly drives you and brings you joy, you can create a career that is financially rewarding and fulfilling on a deeper level.
Step 2: Take tiny action.
Break down your big ambitions into smaller, more manageable actions so that you can focus on one small step at a time. For example, if you want to start a side business, research your target market or create a simple website. These microsteps may seem insignificant, but they add up over time and help you make progress more achievable.
Step 3: Build an unconventional network.
With a portfolio career, you will often be navigating different industries as you work on a variety of projects. Leverage social media to connect with people who share your interests or have experience in the areas you want to explore. Attend conferences, join online communities, and seek out mentorship opportunities. By building a diverse, multi-industry network, you’ll soon find yourself attracting new opportunities, collaborations, and insights that you wouldn’t have had with a traditional, singular focus.
Step 4: Celebrate your wins.
Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your wins in all areas of work. Acknowledge and appreciate the progress you make along the way. Whether it’s landing a new client for your freelance writing gig or receiving positive feedback for a project at your part-time job, take the time to recognize and celebrate these achievements. Celebrating your wins not only boosts your confidence but also reminds you how far you’ve come in crafting your portfolio career.
There’s a certain freedom that comes from knowing you no longer have to follow a linear career path or work an arbitrary number of hours to achieve your goals.
Today, the only limits on your career are the ones you impose on yourself. You’re finally free to focus on pursuing opportunities via a more HEART-based approach.
HEART-based career development is career development from the inside out—a guided process where you pause to reflect on your values, develop a thoughtful strategy, and ultimately craft a career that prioritizes your well-being. Flourish Careers is here to help. Learn more about how we can help you here.