The Top Four Career Lies

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There are many “facts” about finding a job that people – typically those lucky people who haven't actually had to find a job in over a decade – repeat to job seekers in an attempt to help them get ahead that simply aren't true. Some of these things might have been true at some point in the past, but most of them are sheer fabrication.


I'm not saying that the people who say these things are liars – far from it actually. I think that they too have been deceived and honestly believe these little gems because someone told it to them.


So, what are these job search lies? Here are the four biggest:


Self-made” people exist. Here in America, we are constantly hearing stories about so-called “self-made” men. The ones who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and became successful. For some reason, this idealized person who came from the most humble of beginnings and without any outside help, earned millions, has become an icon that we should all look up to. Of course, this person simply doesn't exist. No one can rise above their circumstance without some help. This is especially important to remember when you are out of work and trying hard to better your situation. The “self-made” person couldn't have gotten to where they are without the help of many, many people. What about the teachers and librarians that helped him get through high school? What about the police department that made sure that his town wasn't overrun by crime? How about the people that gave him his first job and taught him valuable skills? You see, no one person is an island. We all need help from time to time and it's the bonds we build and the relationships we create that help us to be successful.


Hard work and skills will always be rewarded. We'd all like to think that all it takes to make it in this world is hard work and the right skills. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Look at the difference between the salaries of the CEO of a large company and the person who cleans their office at night. Both work hard, but their compensations are extremely different. It's important to know that just working hard isn't enough. However, you can decide what you want to achieve – flexibility, happiness, money, power or influence – and work toward that.  The point is that just working hard isn't enough. You have to know what you want and them decide what you're willing to do to get it.


Money brings happiness. This is one of the most harmful lies of all. Success and money don't make people happy. I know that it sounds crazy, but there is a lot of research to prove this. Just ask the wealthy. Being happy is simple – in fact it's so simple that we often overlook it. You can be happy just by deciding to look for reasons to smile. If you want to be happy, focus on building happiness and look for ways to be successful doing what you love. Don't use monetary gain as a primary motivation.


Achievement will bring you success. This particular lie is sort of true. Achievement matters, and it's an important part of being successful. That being said, achieving something isn't nearly as important as most of us think. What really helps to boost success is who you know and what they think of you. Building lasting connections with people who are successful is that best way to become successful yourself.


Hopefully, these lies will help you see that instead of beating yourself up for not being strong enough to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or for being too lazy to find a great job, you should concentrate on networking with others and reaching out to your family and friends. We are all connected and no one gets to where they are without the help of those who care about them.


Have you heard any of these lies? What other lies have you heard? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image Source David Castillo Dominici /


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  • Bart B
    Bart B
    I think this author is a complete idiot!  She doesn't understand the meaning of what she's quoting to begin with. No one ever said money brings happiness - any 5th grader knows that this can not be bought. She must have been short of anything of real substance, to write this sensationalist crap!
  • Ian W
    Ian W
    The views expressed in this article are gaining popularity, especially the "self made man" myth. We of the 20 to 75K a year income levels can change our world if we continue exposing these myths as the LIES they are!
  • Michelle N
    Michelle N
    Totally agree!!  Awesome article, it's about time someone put these truths on writing.
  • Bill C
    Bill C
    Wise words, Melissa.  I would add that, though most Americans don't like unions, one thing at least that unions do is protect you from a bad boss and from arbitrary layoffs to protect the bonuses of your bosses
  • John P
    John P
    you are right, money doesn't buy happiness.  Time is more valuable than money.  You can always make more money, you can't make more time.Happiness is not getting what you want, it is wanting what you have.Contentment is the greatest way to happiness.
  • Jimmy H
    Jimmy H
    Very true, it is often who you know rather than what you know. If an employer knows you and your strength and how ell you fit in their company culture, they will spend time to teach you what you need to know and more to be successful.
  •  Felicia S
    Felicia S
    Love it!!!!! The article is sooo true!
  •  Robert B
    Robert B
    I think you're full of liberal crap!
  • Cynthia W
    Cynthia W
    You are totally correct.  Having searched for jobs for my entire life (no one was dependent on me, so I was able to do this), I learned these lessons 30 years ago and they of course still stand.
  • Ron P
    Ron P
    Hi got it right! People need to be honest with themselves....this is a BIG world
  • Juliette C
    Juliette C
    How about the it-might-have-been-true-at-onetime-but-no-longer-is "expect to spend one month on your job search for every expected $10k in salary.
  • Dennis K
    Dennis K
    Did you get #1 from Obama
  • Peter L
    Peter L
    I learned about those lies a number of years ago, but it is hard to convince people that those are myths. Someday they may learn that hard work and skills are not rewarded. I learned that not only are they not rewardede, but they are not wanted. Dullness and laziness are much better rewarded in most places.
  • Daniel B
    Daniel B
    Thank you, Melissa, for the excellent point.  People out there who have not experienced the pain of a lay off just do not understand, whether intentionally or not.  Lacking in their advice is either knowledge or empathy, or some combination of both.  I especially like Number 2 - those folks must be very fortunate indeed not to have experienced the nastiness of the politics that motivates hiring and firing decisions.  Great article!
  • Teresa F
    Teresa F
    Great Truths thank you
  • Moira C
    Moira C
    this is another stupid article. I came here thinking that I'd find out what lies or stretches of the imagination those of us applying for jobs might be making. Instead this is some liberal point of view that is wrong  1) Money may not make you happy but you can do alot with it send your kids to camp or ballet lessons, pay your bills, fix your car. this writter is an idiot2)  No hard work will not always bring success but to compare the job of a CEO to a night time office janitor is really stupid.  does the office janitor have his ass on the line, does he have to interact and make deals and understand financing.. OMG what idiot wrote this.3) the most liberal comment is that self made people don't exist. After all your mom and dad made you so you are never self made - what a crock. .I've met a number of good self made people and they don't all walk on others to get there. they come up with ideas, they follow them up etc.. Here is an example. the crop bag created by the husband and wife team here in Southern Calif.  This guy is just shoving SHt..
  • Shannon M
    Shannon M
    Money can bring happiness when you HAVE money to pay your bills and not having to worry about loosing nearly everything!!!
  • Theresa C
    Theresa C
    I agree with the part about money not bringing happiness.  I have known several people who have taken a job because "the money was great", thinking the pay was going to make whatever "crap" they were doing palatable.  It never does.  They trudge through the work week doing something they hate and find the extra "dough" doesn't compensate for the forty (or more) hours they have to work to get it!
  • Desiree J
    Desiree J
    Thanks for the article. I went back to college and earned a bachelor's degree in management. I put my all into college and graduated with a 3.98. College was important to me and I never missed a class as hard as that was at times. Today, that means absolutely nothing. I cannot even get a job as an administrative assistant, file clerk, or anything in the office. I work with special needs high school students. I did not go to college to throw my back out by lifting them onto changing table to change their diapers. My body hurts after lifting them off the floor and putting them in wheel chairs. I pray for their families because it is not easy to take care of special needs high school students. This was never my career choice. The pay is low and it offers no benefits - NONE! And, at the end of the school year when the job ends, I am not eligible for unemployment because this is considered a nine month position. It's sad that a college education no longer means anything.
  • Charles B
    Charles B
    I think the article is a bit off the mark.  Let me start with money, does it bring happiness?  Not exactly, but if your car has a serious issue it's great to have the money to fix it.  And, when a loved one has a birthday, it's great to have a little money to buy a lunch or gift.  I'd also like to touch on ...hard work and ...self-made; the comparison of the CEO and the person cleaning the office is not very relative.  What I mean is both people are where they are as a result of choices.  If the office cleaner had taken the ubiquitous student loans and worked their backside off to get a similar education to the CEO then it’s likely he/ she wouldn’t be cleaning anyone’s office.  My experience has been that hard work and fairly good choices will in most cases pay off.  Even someone who is cleaning offices can demonstrate initiative and get promoted to a supervisory position, earn more money, and have quality free time.  My advice, and call it a lie if you want, is to work hard, keep learning, communicate respectfully with managers, peers, and subordinates, and look for better opportunities.  It isn’t that tough to get ahead, each person has to decide what success is and take the appropriate action to achieve it.  
  • Octavia B
    Octavia B
    I have believed some of these sayings but I never believed I became successful by myself.  I always had help getting where I wanted to go in all aspects of life and people should always remeber that they need somebody to help them get to where they're trying to go!!!
  • Debora M
    Debora M
    Melissa you're so right andI've noticed as of late thatfriends who care about mehave been unwilling to giveme a job when they had onefor which I was highly qualified while encouragingme to just"get a job." The illogical schism defies reasonand economic and societalsense. The American culturalmyth of self determinationand the climate of every manfor himself is not true. Peopleassume I will be fine and landon my feet because of my attributes. Another big lie anddirty little secret of American society is that women and black men (shout out to ourbrilliant President) play by adifferent set of social rules and those unspoken rules are inherintly disempowering.We don't have the same oppourtunities and I feel like my intelligence is a professional liability. I just want to do my work, I'd do it for free. That my gifts andresults would be discarded and disregarded because I'm not playing some superficial social game though I stay well within the confines (and then some by choice) of social and professional propriaty is morally, economically and societally upsetting and disturbing. Sorry for my bad spelling. I am so happy yoursocial conscience, values and activism will hopefullyimpact the culture and humanity. The ironic plight ofthe gifted (which you are) isto be deeply alienated from society but to care very muchabout the human condition.A project I have been interested in for over 20 years is recipe templets and food education for the economically struggling public. This can be done.I've done it. You are great!
  • Katherine O
    Katherine O
    Money does Not bring happiness, but it does offer security. In today's world, even that is not certain. For the most part, the security it offers is that you can pay for your responsibilities and obligations with a little more assurance than if you did not have money. And it lets you explore a better quality of life and experiences.Money counts.
  • Cindy B
    Cindy B
    And don't forget, it is WHO you know, not WHAT you know!
  • Mary R
    Mary R
    Great Article!

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