Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Get a real job

And by that I mean: one you actually enjoy.

I find it deeply distressing that some people, when asked what they want to do with their lives, respond:
“I don’t care. I just want a job.”

For me, my heart aches a bit for them every time I hear people say this. I can’t help but want to take them by the shoulder, sit them down, get a drink together and talk it over. I want to lean across the table, braced on my elbows, and tell it to them straight: you’re going about this the wrong way!

You cannot go through life like that, pretending that you have only basic needs. You yearn for more than a paycheck. We both know that. Don’t sell yourself short and carry on this charade of not caring about what you’re going to do for a living. When you wake up in the morning, put your pants on, and walk out the door for work, you will care where you’re going. And your mental well-being will depend on how you feel about that destination.

Getting a job is like dating – how successful do you think we’d be if we approached our love lives like that, telling people, “hi, I’m single and I want to date. I don’t care who I date, I just want a girlfriend.”

In my guestimation, I don't think we'd get too far with a strategy like that. Do you?  

Maybe that sort of mindset works in high school – when our universe revolves around insecurities and lack of self-awareness – but it doesn’t work when you’re dating as an adult. And it definitely doesn’t work for your adult job search, either. Going about it like that, all you will land is the exact type of employer who, in turn, doesn’t care too much about who they hire – and will regard you with the same level of concern once you’re there.

Come now. When we search for spouses, don’t most of us consider who we are as individuals, what we want in life, and who we want as life partners? We don’t just fling ourselves at members of the opposite sex and exclaim, “you are a man! Marry me so I can procreate!”

And think of the marriages you’ve seen. Wouldn’t you agree that the successful relationships were established – or at least maintained – with a bit of consciousness? These things don’t just happen. It’s by design and effort.

And so it is with our careers. Rather than spending one more month trolling the job sites and hurling resumes at potential employers, take 30 days to think about who you are, your skill set, what motivates you, your passions. Don’t you suppose that, when driving to Tallahassee, it’s worth taking the extra 15 minutes to write down some directions rather than just hopping into your Grand Am and hoping for the best? It’s the same with your job. Too many of us are hitting dead ends and making U-turns and running on empty because we’re too reluctant to stop and think about where it is we’re actually going. (“I don’t care! Anywhere but here!”)

And when you’ve paused to sort things out a bit and ultimately do get an interview, there’s so much more mutual certainty and satisfaction – when you pursue a specific position that you genuinely want, it shows. There’s a warm fuzzy feeling between interviewer and interviewee – things just click.

And then it’s not just a paycheck. It becomes real.

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