One of my regular readers made the comment that she would be cautious about advising others to try a variety of jobs for fear of being branded a, “Job Hopper”. This was in response to my belief that trying out a variety of jobs when you are young is a good idea in order to get experience and find what you like and dislike.
It strikes me that there is a strong similarity between trying to find the job or career that is perfect for you and trying to find the perfect person to go through life with. While I agree that many people go through life happily single, most have dated or contemplated our perfect partner. Look at finding a job and a partner, and see if you too don’t see the similarities.
For starters, I imagine it’s rare these days for a teenager in the developed world to be advised to only date the person they will spend the rest of their life with. While that happens, more often than not people go through a number of relationships. When we hit our 20’s, we may be more careful, and even if we are still experimenting, we know those we date might be looking for longer term commitments – or a life-long commitment. You might have friends or family trying to help you find the right partner too. They’ll look for people who will meet your needs and be a good fit; the criteria for that being whatever they have learned is important to you in a partner.
So now is finding the perfect job much different? Well, it’s possible but hardly likely you will be advised that your first job as a young teenager is where you will work until you retire. You’d be wise to try different jobs, think about what makes you happy learn some skills, discover new jobs. Then as you get into your 20’s there comes a little more self-imposed pressure on some people to narrow down all the jobs in the world to a few, and eventually determine a career path.
You see defining a career path or field in which to work is hard unless you’ve done a little research, perhaps talked to others doing the jobs now, or possibly even tried the jobs as a coop student or intern. A job that seems like a fit might turn out to have aspects to it that don’t sit well with you after taking it, and you might quit that job and try another. Rather than job-hopping, this process helps you learn about yourself more than it does the jobs themselves. You’re gaining knowledge and perspective that future employers are going to benefit from.
In my own case, I was in my 40’s when I started being an Employment Counsellor. This job is an ideal fit for someone with my background. However, one reason I’m an effective Employment Counsellor is because of the path I took to get here. I’ve worked in Retail, Recreation, Social Services, Municipal and Provincial Government, been self-employed, worked in the not-for-profit and profit sectors too. All those experiences help me when speaking with others because I can look at things from a wider view – often the view of the person I’m helping.
Had I only come right from school in my early 20’s and taken the same job I have now, I may or may not be effective, but I’d have some growing to do as an individual to gain the perspective and insights I have now. I obtained those insights from doing other things.
And finding the perfect partner? You could get lucky like my wife and find your life-long spouse with the first person you date – it does happen. Or you could as in my case, date a few different people in your youth and then find the right person. Either way, don’t you hope that both your job and your partner bring you happiness, and that you find yourself invested in both?
Now some would carry this analogy further and say that you can lose interest in both a job and a partner and need a change. I suppose that’s true – however I’d counter that I’ve never agreed to stay together for better or worse with an employer forever! Fortunately, I’ve just celebrated 32 years of marriage in August, but 32 years in one job is something I’ll never accomplish.
My point here is really that zeroing in on the right job has some similarities to finding your partner. Is it exactly the same process? No. Should you fall in love with someone and go all goofy with your heart leaping with every phone call, your every waking moment thinking of them – that’s not likely to be your work experience. That being said, if you are waiting after being interviewed to get THE CALL, you can be just as excited and then jump around the room when you get offered the job. So maybe it is similar.
Consider auditioning different jobs as learning experiences. Sure you don’t want a reputation as a Job Hopper, but you don’t have to sit and wait for the perfect job to fall in your lap either. After all, employers want experience don’t they? How are you going to be ready with your experience if you don’t do other things in the meantime?
Position yourself to be ready when the right person and/or job, comes along!