Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is this job worth it?

Now that, my friends, is what we all have to decide when job hunting. Or is it? One of the job coaches I've been following on Twitter tweeted a link to an article today. I tracked down the original, and I'll link it below, but the gist of the article was this: "Stop looking for 'the perfect job,' and start looking for 'a job.'"

It really started me thinking. The author posits that, like looking for your idea of the perfect partner, if you're too picky you miss all sorts of opportunities to find an actual perfect partner. It sort of made sense. How will I know I hate ditch-digging, unless I'm willing to TRY ditch-digging? I can always keep looking for the better job. On the surface, and maybe a little deeper than that, it does make sense. I do need to make a living, and there are lots of jobs out there that I could certainly try out.

But I think there's more to it. I think you do have to be at least a little bit picky. I know there are some things that I really don't want to have to do anymore, and I'll pass on almost any job that requires them. Why? Because I'm in a position to do so. That's the key.

If it's a matter of my kids eating or not eating, then I will waste no time going down to the local fast food joint to be the oldest french fry cook in town. I will put up with "You gotta work tomorrow at 6 AM, or don't come in at all next week" and "Sorry, we don't need you the rest of the day, go home." I will put up with "You missed a spot when you mopped the floor." I will put up with it, and I will hate it, and rest assured, when I do find something better, I will give my 2 weeks notice, and I will leave it.

I don't think anyone reading this would disagree with me, either. But right now, it's not a matter of my kids eating or not. I can afford to be a little more picky. Since my kids are going to be fed, what do I want to do? What am I able to do? And the question I didn't ask above, what am I willing to do?

Here's a personal example: I'm retiring from the military. Many of you reading this can relate. I've just returned from an 8-year assignment in England. During that time, I spent more than half of it away from home. Not all in one go, but in about 12 trips, varying in duration from 2 weeks to 6 months. Sometimes I had lots of notice, sometimes not very much. Sometimes my trip got extended at the last minute and I had to tell my wife I wasn't coming home yet after all. I missed birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

And you know what? I signed up to do it. I did it. We knew it was going to happen, it was part of the job, and we dealt with it.

But now I'm going to be a civilian, and I'm going to work for... well, someone good, I'm sure. But for me and my family, extended travel is not what I'm signing up for. Yes, I'll go on trips. I'll go away to a training course, or off to teach something, or whatever. I'm not saying I'm never willing to travel. But my job will be at the home office, and my travel will be incidental. That's the sort of thing I'm talking about.

And I really think that employers would rather have a happy workforce than a grudging one, don't you?

Now I'll ask you: what are YOU looking for in a job? Do you want free time in the afternoons for soccer practice? Do you want an office of your own, finally, instead of a cubicle? Do you absolutely need to know that you'll never be awakened at midnight with an "office emergency?" What do you hate? What's the deal-breaker, the one thing that will make you turn down a decent offer? Let's talk about it in the comments below.
Here's the link to the article I mentioned above, which is on the website of Mike Rowe. You may know Mike as host of TV's "Dirty Jobs."


  1. Dave
    From my personal experience, after I retired from the Air Force with 24 years service, I went job hunting. I looked for something in an office related setting having worked in CBPO for 20 of those years. I did find a position within a relatively short time that seemed to fit me. However, it didn't take long for me to discover that I really didn't fit in all that well and we parted ways. Looking back, I think one of my issues was me and the fact that I was not a real civilian yet. I didn't know how to be a civilian. I didn't know how to act and it was more than a little disturbing. I don't think I've ever been a really good civilian, although I think I've gotten a bit better at it. It really is a different mind set and does take a bit of getting used to it. Try out different jobs, I ended up spending the next 13 years working for the State. It had more of the structure I was used to and it afforded me a second retirement income which is definitely coming in handy at the moment.

  2. Hi David,

    I'm still working on the "what am I specifically looking for " part, but I DO know what I'm not looking for. I don't want P&L responsibility. I just don't want to have to answer to budget shortfalls and miscalculations. And I don't want direct reports. At least not low wage reports. I'm not good at dealing with performance reviews, disciplinary action, complaining, fighting, etc. And also like you, while in my past job I traveled for one week four times a year, anything more would drive me crazy.