Career Myths

Think the only way to get a good job is to go to university?

QUICK POINTS  The reality is many employers don’t like or actually read CVs.

Not all training providers are created equal.

Opportunities are there, you have to be ready to grab them. 

Or are you heading into a job you don't really like because you you've made a decision and have to stick with it? Many people hold beliefs about jobs and careers that are holding them back. Careers New Zealand, an invaluable resource for anyone seeking career info, looks at the truths behind some of these career myths. Here’s what their experts believe: 

9 common career myths explored 

A CV is the only way to get a job?

  • The reality is many employers don’t like or actually read CVs. Some employers, especially small business owners, would prefer to take a person on face value, or give them some part-time work first to see what they are truly like in the workplace. Many people obtain jobs without a CV by doing work experience, finding out about jobs through friends and family and approaching employers directly.   
  • Having an up-to-date CV is important when applying for jobs advertised in the paper, from larger organisations, online or when you are calling on an employer and you want to leave some information about yourself. It can be your one (or two) page marketing document.

How to prepare a top CV

I have to make my decision now and once I make a decision, I have to stick to it 

  • Not true. There is a great saying: “Life’s a journey not a destination”. Journeys are full of options where you make and change your decisions all the time based on new experiences, information, people who you meet and learning about what motivates and inspires you. In most cases there are not right and wrong career decisions. What’s actually more important is having a go, exploring in the general area that you want to go in and through what you learn, the contacts you make and experiences you have, to then make more informed decisions. Growing, learning and adapting are more important than getting it right.   

I can't get into the work I like because there are too few opportunities 

  • The reality is that opportunities exist in most career areas. Opportunities exist because employment needs change all the time. While the dream position may not be there on day one, if you are keen then try to get into the broader industry in some way, develop networks and contacts, and grab any other opportunities that move you toward your ultimate dream job. What you may also discover is that once you’re in the work area that you have always wanted to be in, you may find you want to explore other ideas that you want to try or have been introduced to.    

You have to start somewhere so this is a good place

Getting a university education is necessary to get a good job 

  • Not true. Studying and gaining qualifications are important but there is a wide range of opportunities in New Zealand that do not require a university education. Self-employment, apprenticeships, defence forces and a whole range of other challenging and meaningful jobs do not require university education. Qualifications can be important but knowing people, having contacts, communication skills, personal attributes, motivation, risk-taking, problem solving and creativity are just as vital as qualifications for getting a good job.   

Other people can stop me from doing the kind of work I like 

  • Trusting in your own decision is great but it does not have to come at the cost of family/whānau or friends who don't share your opinion. Share your reasons for taking a certain path with others, but also be open to their opinions and thoughts. They may inspire you do further career research, but remember it is OK to agree to disagree and follow your heart and intuition in relation to work or career choices.   

 I should know what I want to do/my child should know what they want to do 

  • Not true. We are always learning and exploring options, and many young folk are often restless and want to try new things and have different experiences. Fixing on one path only might be unrealistic and restrictive for a young person who is just starting out in a world of work that is constantly and rapidly changing. Imagine training for a job that is not going to be here in five years?   

I don't have to start at the bottom if I have a graduate tertiary degree 

  • Depends. Where you start when you graduate with a degree will often depend on where the employer needs you in their organisation or believes is the best place for you to start to learn all about their business. University gives you a qualification, knowledge, competencies and in some instances relevant work experience, while in the workplace there are other things that are required before you can move into a top position and salary.  
  • Things like an in-depth knowledge of the business sector you are working in, along with connections or networks in the broader industry.  Graduates can’t expect to have these on day one, they come with experience and time in the workplace.   

One training provider/university is pretty much like another 

  • Wrong. This is like saying that one shoe fits all.  They are all different in how they operate, structure their courses, learning flexibility, costs, student outcomes and where they are located. Some offer specific courses not available elsewhere which restricts choices if that’s what you want to do. Prospective students need to make choices based on what they want to do, how they learn best and what they and their family can afford.    

See New Zealand's tertiary study and training places here

It's the school's responsibility to talk about careers and work through it there 

  • Yes but it’s not all them. Schools have an important part to play in providing career advice to students and they are funded by the Government to provide you with this information and advice. However others also have a responsibility. This means you and your parents. A lot of information and contacts are available on the internet, in the paper, through relatives and personal contacts that parents can encourage to support their son and daughter with their career development.


Find out more about your choices once you leave school