Taking A Job You Don’t Want

Many people have accepted jobs which truth be told, they weren’t all that keen on in the first place. Perhaps it was after a long job search that appeared to be going nowhere and the constant rejection was too disheartening. Maybe it was a desperation for money to pay bills, or just a short-term filler job until something better came up.

Taking a job you don’t want can either be a terrible mistake or an excellent idea; it’s essential for your self-esteem and how you perceive yourself after accepting it that you clearly understand the difference.

First a situation that makes taking a job you don’t really love an excellent idea. Suppose your dream job requires you to own a reliable vehicle. Up to this point, you’ve managed to get along quite nicely using public transit or just walking everywhere and you lack the funds to buy one right away. Taking a short-term job outside your desired field is a good idea. Such an entry-level job will be easier to obtain than the position you’ve been really striving for, so the money will flow quicker into your hands. You can put aside money for the car, and therefore better compete for the job you really want faster. When you quit that job it won’t affect your reputation as its outside your field.

On the other hand, a terrible mistake can be made by the job seeker who becomes desperate and frustrated with a prolonged job search. Instead of gradually broadening the kinds of jobs they will look at, they leap into the, “I’ll do anything” mode, and before they know it, they’ve interviewed and accepted a job that is a long way from what they originally set out to do.

Now the consequence of this kind of misguided action is that while the person has a job, they will be immediately unhappy with it, question why on earth they accepted it, and know they’ve made a poor decision. How can this be you ask, when only a few days before they were adamantly stating they’d take anything? The truth is that a few days ago they didn’t have a job at all, so any job is an improvement. Now that they have a job, they want a better job; a better fit.

It’s the validation really that they were seeking. After all those rejections, any job seeker would welcome someone out there in a position to hire pegging them as desirable and needed. When someone says come in for the interview, they reason that any interview is good practice. When the job offer is made, they feel grateful for the interviewers confidence in them, and feel obligated then to say yes. Problem is that walking out the door of the company after accepting, they feel they’ve made a mistake, the job is wrong, and instead of feeling relief, they feel conflicted.

In many ways, applying for jobs that are just bad fits is understandable. How long should you hold out and go for the perfect job anyhow? And if you do broaden your search, should you go from looking for the perfect job to considering an excellent job? Then how long do you go from looking for an excellent job to a very good job? A good job? An okay job? Too many people go from looking for their dream job to an okay job right away. That’s the critical error.

If you can find some value in the jobs you are looking for you can rationalize your actions. So maybe the job would: 1) put current work experience on the resume, 2) give you future references, 3) be the new, ‘last job you worked at’ especially replacing your current last job if you’ve been fired, 4) get  you back in the routine of sticking to a schedule or 5) build your self-esteem if it’s been years since you had paid employment.

Settling in to the wrong job does run the risk of stalling your skill development in the areas you need to keep up with in your ideal field. So in other words, driving a taxi won’t help with your accounting skills if that’s your dream job. The taxi gig will bring you money, but it’s likely you’ll sit there driving thinking, “Oh no, what have I done? How did I end up behind the wheel?”

It’s essential in my opinion to see that we are all different. What is right for me may not be for you and therefore the choices we make might be right for both of us yet very different. I’ve taken jobs in the past I knew were entirely wrong from the beginning, but there was a purpose in those jobs at the time which helped me justify those moves to myself and my family. They were short-term jobs and served our needs so I did them well.

When considering a job outside your field, realize that’s it’s not a life sentence. You can still break free of that job and return to seeking your career of choice but with a little less desperation having some income in your pocket.

A word to you if you know someone who is working in a survival job. You can’t know all their private thoughts and past circumstances that brought them to their present reality. Therefore tread respectfully when you feel the urge to tell them what they should be doing.








2 thoughts on “Taking A Job You Don’t Want

  1. With the massive unemployment, it gets to a point where people have been out of work so long they have used up whatever savings they have and there are bills to be paid. It’s very misguided and condescending to criticize anyone who is working in a survival job. We seem to have two classes of folks looking for work. There are those working class people who are living at a survival level, and there are those folks lucky enough to have the money to be able to hold out for their “dream” job. The majority of the people who write job finding advice come from the later well off group. Their reality is vastly different from that of the rest of us. It’s good to read an article written by someone who does understand the reality most of us face.


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