Should reality TV influence your choice of career?

Hoteliers say no...

Veterinarian listening to cat's heartbeat with stethoscopeCollection:  Digital VisionCredit:  Andy SotiriouRelease informati

Ask a small child what they want to be when they grow up, and there's a fair chance it'll be a postman or a builder - thanks to Postman Pat and Bob the Builder, of course.

That ambition often changes when children gradually come to realise that diggers don't actually talk and that real postmen don't usually get to cart their cat around with them everywhere they go.

But according to recruitment firm CV-Library, it's not just children that are influenced into wanting to take up a particular career by watching a television show: adults are doing it too.

In a survey, the company found that more than half of UK workers - 53.9% - say they'd use a reality TV show, such as The Great British Bake-off or Kitchen Nightmares, to decide whether or not they'd like to work in a particular profession.

Nearly six in ten people said they thought that that such programmes give a realistic insight into an industry, with 70.5% believing that these kinds of shows are beneficial to the profession they represent.

However, Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, warns that reality shows are edited to be as dramatic as possible and don't always portray, well, reality.

"There are so many external factors that influence an individual's career choices, and the growth of profession-based reality TV series, like Kitchen Nightmares and Traffic Cops, provides a new way to learn more about a particular industry," he says.

"However, it's worth remembering that some of these shows might be scripted or over-dramatised for the cameras."

But not all reality shows do the profession they're showcasing any favours - and some are even putting people off. Titles such as 'Hotel Hell' and 'Kitchen Nightmares' say it all. Even shows such as Educating Essex show what life at the coal-face is really like at its worst - and that's enough, apparently, to turn many people away from teaching.

"Attracting professionals to key industries, such as education, the public sector and hospitality, is already a struggle in the UK," says Biggins. "Discovering that some shows can have a negative impact on recruitment in their sectors is another potential set-back for employers."

There's no harm in taking career inspiration from a television show - indeed, a survey carried out by TalkTalk two years ago revealed that half of all doctors in the UK chose their profession after watching episodes of Casualty. It's great as a source of inspiration.

However, you're bound to be disappointed if you don't do a little more research into a prospective career than simply settling into your armchair and turning on the TV.

Reality shows are first and foremost entertainment, rather than a source of real careers guidance - and if you want to know about more than just the highest highs and lowest lows, you'll need to look elsewhere.

As a starting point, the government's National Careers Service has profiles of almost 800 jobs, while the employer review site Glassdoor gives you tips from insiders as to what it's really like to work for a particular company.

Use any contacts you have to try and find people working in your chosen field, and ask them for the low-down; it may well be possible to shadow them at work for a day or two. And if you can afford to work for nothing, it could even be worth applying for an internship - it'll give you the best idea of what a particular job is really like.

"When considering career options, it's important that workers use a range of resources to get a healthy picture of the industry they're considering – reality TV shows alone are not an accurate assessment tool," says Biggins.

"Equally, employers must combat the negative stigma associated with certain industry-focused TV shows to help candidates see the real profession, not the dramatised version."

TV series people say have been beneficial to their profession

1. The Great British Bake-off – 41.3%
2. Pet Rescue – 40.2%
3. Traffic Cops - 38.2%
4. Masterchef - 38.2%
5. One Born Every Minute - 34.9%

TV series people say have been damaging to their profession

1. Hotel Hell - 43.8%
2. The Apprentice - 40.1%
3. Kitchen Nightmares - 31.8%
4. Educating Yorkshire/Essex - 22%
5. Cops with Cameras - 21.1%

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