May 23, 2010
And the award for Least Trusted Profession goes to...
...Politician! Congratulations, Politician -- come up here and accept your award!
In a new survey commissioned by Sandler Training, a sales and management training company, 68 percent of 1,200 U.S. adults polled chose politicians as the profession they trust the least.
[Photo by Alan Light]
Sure the source of the survey -- a firm in the sales sector, which Sandler points out is "often thought of as the least trusted profession" -- isn't exactly agenda-free. But these days, you could be hard-pressed to find an American not related to a politician who doesn't have a few choice words for that profession.
The runner up in this contest for the most cunning career? Salespeople, who 9 percent of respondents ranked as their least trusted occupation. Next in line were lawyers, earning 7 percent of respondents' mistrust, followed by journalists (6 percent), bankers (6 percent), and mechanics (5 percent).
Okay, so maybe this is a silly survey. But it begs a larger question: whether you'd let public perception of the career you covet stop you from pursuing it. Obviously, I didn't (though to journalism's credit, 24 percent of survey respondents ranked reporters as the most trusted profession; by comparison, only 3 percent ranked pols as the most trusted and 9 percent ranked salespeople as such).
I'm certainly not the only one bucking the collective mythology about my chosen vocation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 there were 67,600 legislators employed in federal, state, and local governments. That same year, there were 759,200 lawyers and 69,300 journalists who still had jobs in this country. In addition, 437,900 U.S. workers had sales or related positions at car dealerships (incidentally ranked as the least trusted type of salesperson by respondents to the Sandler poll), 434,800 had positions as insurance sales agents, and 341,600 worked as telemarketers.
So where do you stand on the trusted profession continuum? Would you pursue a path (or have you already) that gets a bad rap in the collective consciousness? Why or why not?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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