The 3 Job Myths That Cost Young People Money

Ryan Ong



As a consequence of Anthony Robbins, career ads, and any exposure to The Apprentice exceeding 15 minutes, some of our young people have developed messed up ideas about work. Last month I spoke to some 19 – 24 year olds, whose idea of office life is some kind of Starbucks-and-evening-Yoga paradise. And they had worse superstitions about income than a Congolese shaman has about albino twins:

1. Job Hopping is Always Good

Job hopping means rapidly switching from one job to another; each job might last a year or less. And yes, it makes your job map look like the kiddy maze on the back of a happy meal.

But there are plenty of reasons why young Singaporeans job hop.

For some, it’s a shortcut to higher pay. Thanks to online jobs searches, you can now scan a dozen other companies for pay ranges (and set up an interview) within your lunch hour. Otherwise, it’s about career goals: 20-somethings often don’t start with the job they want. They job hop to eventually become a creative director, account executive, etc.

Now, job hopping to reach an eventual career goal is fine. Job hopping for money is okay too, provided you are getting more money for doing the same kind of work.


maze on powerpoint
“Now I’ll explain our policy for raises. Just imagine a bag of gold is at the centre of this diagram…”


When you try to explain your job hopping, employers look for a consistent story in your work history. For example, if you’re trying to join the video game industry, it would make sense if your past three jobs went like this:

Gaming magazine columnist -> Graphic artist -> Game app developer

It wouldn’t make sense if your resume read like this:

Short-order cook -> Retail assistant -> Music teacher

The second example is just too damn hard to explain. Keep doing it, and you’ll keep planting red flags in your resume. According to Human Resources Consultant Angeline Seah:

If you have multiple unrelated jobs within a short time frame, it is definitely a red flag. It suggests you are not very committed, have no idea what you want to do, or that you have personality clashes and can’t get along with colleagues anywhere.”


2. If You Follow Your Passion, the Money Will Naturally Follow

This is in the “half-truth” category. Let’s start with the “truth” part.

Passionate people are more likely to succeed,” says Career Counsellor Colleen Yap, “Because they are going to have more stamina, they have initiative, and they are always coming up with fresh ideas. If you are not passionate about your job, you will lack the ‘battery power’ to excel.”

You’re also likely to know the industry better. If you’re a guitar nut, for example, you’ll probably spend time on guitar sites, going to guitar conventions, etc. If you work in a guitar store, you’ll probably surpass less enthusiastic retail assistants.


Drummer in the office
Oh, our tech support is very passionate about his job. Mainly, his part-time drummer job.


Now let’s focus on the “myth” part. According to Angeline:

Sure, some money will come from following your passion. But how much money? Some passions are more lucrative than others. Some passions are too niche to earn you a living. If you have a passion for writing poetry then great, but don’t expect it to feed you.”

Angeline suggests you re-frame this belief.

Don’t take the saying too literally. If you’re passionate about something, think of it as being the end goal of your job. It doesn’t mean that indulging in your passion can be the actual job. Not all the time…

…if you’re passionate about volunteer work, think of your job as providing the cash to pay for aid supplies, for overseas trips, and so on. Even if your job is actually warehousing, or customer service, or something unrelated to volunteer work.”

So having some kind of passion does help. Just don’t presume “following your passion” means getting paid to indulge in it.

(For more on passions that make a lot of money, follow us on Facebook).


3. Being Self-Employed Means Making More Money


Lots of beers
Self-employed Writer, Day 2. (I’m behind there somewhere).


I was surprised at the number of 20-somethings I met, who assumed self-employment meant big bucks. The theory is simple:

There’s much more earning potential for a business entity than there is for an employee. Therefore, self-employment = caviar sandwiches for lunch. Angeline says the overall idea is correct, but some key perspectives are missing:

Self-employment is really better when you have been in the industry for a few years. You need to have created the contacts, you need the relevant experience, and you need to have credibility or a high profile.

Can the self-employed earn more? Yes, if they are successful. But they stand to lose a lot more if they fail.”

Well what’s the impact on income, if we opt to be self-employed right away?

In my experience, new freelancers and start-up owners end up working two t0 three years, before they bring in consistent incomes of $3k or more. This is something a regular degree holder can earn from the first year, if he is employed.

But those who are willing to be employees for a few years, before they become self-employed, can sometimes manage this within months of starting their own business. They already have referrals and a strong client base, because of the work they’ve already done in the industry.”


What other myths do you think need debunking? Give us the lowdown here!

Image Credits:
Engin Erdogan, believekevin, Matt Biddulph, Guy Renard 25

Keep updated with all the news!


Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.