Finance Work When a dream job turns into a nightmare
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When a dream job turns into a nightmare

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There are certain jobs which have very little glamour attached to them. No one, I would imagine, signs up to be a police officer without being fully aware of the stresses, risks and pressures they will face.

Likewise, while dentistry is a relatively well-remunerated profession, it takes a certain person to be able to stand looking into people’s mouths all day long.

Maths and science teachers are not exactly bathing in glory either, despite the fact there are considerable job prospects in these fields.

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Then there is the clutch of careers that attract scores of interested people simply because they sound glamorous: TV journalist, model, highly-paid actress or actor.

Some of these “glamorous” jobs are attractive because they don’t actually sound like work, such as people who quit their day jobs to travel the world for a living and blog about it, or the Instagram and YouTube stars pulling in thousands of dollars in advertising.

But is life on the glamorous side of the career fence all that it seems?

Don’t be fooled

In short, no. Group director at recruitment firm Randstad, Steve Shepherd, sees many a starry-eyed graduate with unrealistic ideas of what certain jobs involve.

“The big one we see is people wanting to be flight attendants because they love travel,” he says. “They don’t realise that attendants arrive at a destination, are bussed to a hotel and then bussed back to their flight.

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“They are essentially customer service attendants in the sky, and you may have to deal with people who are grumpy and whose flight has been delayed in Bali and you have to do it all with a smile on your face.”

Many people conflate being an event coordinator with bubbles, VIP lists and expensive canapés. Which may be true, Mr Shepherd says, but there is significant grunt work involved beforehand.

“You will often be dealing with ‘Bridezilla’ and you are essentially a glorified gopher who cannot leave until everyone is happy,” Mr Shepherd says.

He has also noticed a spike in people wanting to be forensic scientists due to TV shows such as CSI.

“We need to remind people that it won’t all be good-looking people, it won’t be Miami and you have to have a stomach for dealing with that kind of thing,” he says.

Look beyond the surface

Co-founder and director of comparison site Finder.com.au, Fred Schebesta, says people need to make sure they know what they are chasing when they set their sights on their dream job.

It may sound glamorous to quit your job to blog your way around the world, but it is unlikely to pay as well as steady employment.

“A good question to ask is whether you are sacrificing your pay to get a good job,” Mr Schebesta says. “If you are basically working for free you need to think of a way of reinventing that job you enjoy so you get paid for it.”

Mr Schebesta also recommends asking whether your dream job is more steeped in nostalgia than grounded in reality.

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“You may have always wanted to be a windsurfing teacher but then you try it and you don’t really like it,” he says. “Many people keep doing these jobs because it is what they told themselves they always wanted to do and they are afraid of looking inconsistent.”

Ask questions

That is not to say that you should not chase your dreams, just that you should be focused on what these dream jobs actually involve.

“Your dream job is just the intersection of your passions, the things you love doing, and that which you have the ability to earn money from,” Mr Schebesta says.

And don’t write off seemingly staid professions either.

“People used to think accountancy was really boring, but these days the nature of accountancy is changing and I know from my own experience that accountants are now having a say in the running of companies,” he says.

Mr Shepherd says research, as always, will help avoid disappointment.

“People don’t do their research in order to understand the day-to-day aspects of the job,” he says. “My advice is to track down someone in the field you are interested in and ask them what the best and the worst parts of their job are.

“Then you will be able to make a more informed decision rather than being seduced by the bright lights.”

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