Finding The Right Fit


I meet a great many people who are dissatisfied with the jobs they have. I also listen to an equal number of people who are unemployed completely and stuck deciding what it is they really want to do. That great job or career that everyone else seems to have, continues to elude them.

When I do talk to people who are by their own definition successful and happy, I’ve generally noticed that they’ve found an occupation that combines three key elements; it pays them well, they’re good at what they do and yes, they like what they do.

I’ll bet you can easily bring to mind people you know – perhaps even yourself – who are good at what they do, enjoy the work but aren’t paid sufficiently well in their opinion. Such people tend to look at other organizations where they might do similar work but be compensated better. Money may not be everything, but money does give the means to live life on one’s own terms and without enough of it, there can be a gap between how one lives and how one wishes to.

Then there are people who are paid well and are good at what they do, but they hunger for work that is more challenging, more rewarding. The work has either never really satisfied them or they’ve come to want to do something more meaningful and rewarding.  These people will often surprise those they know by quitting good paying jobs to pursue other interests, leaving co-workers shaking their heads and wondering.

Finally, there are those who are paid well, like what they do but they aren’t good at it. A lot of the time they don’t last long in the job before being let go, but if they are in positions of influence and seniority, they can last a surprisingly long time in an organization; perhaps even resulting in the organization shutting down in the extreme over mismanagement and bad decision-making.

When all three factors align; being paid well, enjoying the work and being good at what one does, it would seem the fit is right and it’s this we call success.

Now while a lot of people I’ve shared this idea with like the simplicity of the above, I find it interesting of note that most immediately pose some variation of the same problem time and time again. “I’m still left needing help to figure out what it is I should do job-wise.”

The two are related of course, but they are different; finding the right fit and finding the right job or career. Let me explain. As an Employment Counsellor, I like the work I do, I feel I’m paid well and I can say I’m good at what I do. Were I to pick up and move to another organization but in a similar role as an Employment Counsellor, I might get paid less, or find that the scope of my job changed significantly. Hence I might have the right job but the other factors changed; in this case compensation for my work or the real work I’d be doing.

This could be where a lot of people go wrong; both job seekers and those who help people find employment. We broadly state the functions and responsibilities of a job – saying a Nurse does this or that, a Carpenter does this kind of work, a Labourer on an assembly line performs this or that, but really the experience of any one of these people will be different from others in the same roles but in different organizations.

The Carpenter might find a great fit in a small, rural community doing precision craftwork, where his talents are highly sought out and another might be happier doing restoration work in large cities working on a team of restoration carpenters. The job title might be the same, but the work done might need very different skill requirements and the environment the work is done in might mean the difference between liking the job or not. This is a factor only the person can decide.

I have for years felt the best place to start a job search is in fact not to look around at jobs on a job board, but to look inside one’s self. What makes you tick? That simple question requires a lot of thought and self-awareness. In other words, get to know yourself; your likes and dislikes, preferences for working alone or in groups and under what circumstances for each. Determine the work environment, the kind of supervision you need and want. Skills you can generally acquire and work to improve if you choose. Learning about yourself first isn’t a waste of time or stalling your career development. It’s putting yourself in a place to ultimately succeed as you’ve never succeeded in the past in finding the right fit.

The good news is that you can find the right fit by design or chance. The bad news is you can go through a lot of jobs and yes even careers attempting to find what’s the right fit for you if you don’t pay attention to learning about yourself first.

Maybe it’s because we think we know ourselves well that we overlook the obvious; but it’s been my experience we don’t know ourselves as well as we assume. And over time, yes, we change and so do our preferences.

May you find the right fit for you.

Still Debating A Career? Beware!


It’s often been my experience that those people who have no idea what they are looking for in terms of employment are among the hardest people to help find work. You’d be forgiven if you think that a person who answers, “Anything” to the question, “What kind of work are you looking for?” would actually be among the easiest to help because they’ve said they’re looking for anything and therefore will do anything.

The problem of course is that once you suggest a job that they wouldn’t likely enjoy to test their assertion their typical reaction is, “No, I’m not doing that!” Another classic response to suggesting a job they are clearly not qualified for just to show them that they aren’t in fact looking for anything is, “Sure, as long as they train me.” Why oh why would they train you from scratch when there is a multitude of people in the marketplace who have the education, training and experience right now?

I’ve yet to meet a single person in all my years of employment counselling who is actually prepared to do, “anything.” When they look at potential jobs, their reasons for not applying are often any combination of the following: low pay, hard work, demeaning role, boring, too far away, don’t like the employer, someone they know didn’t work out at that company or the hours don’t agree with them.

So if people aren’t in fact prepared to do just any job, why is that so many actually say they are looking for anything in the first place?

I’ve come to believe that this willingness to do anything is really a person expressing their frustration at not having found work they’d be good at, have the skills to do and which they’d enjoy doing.

It’s possible that we’ve done too good at getting out the message that you should be passionate about your job; only do work you love, and that you should be paid well for doing it. While finding real meaning in the work we do each day and loving the job is certainly a great thing to strive for, not every successful person necessarily feels passionately about their job or career.

Pose the question, “Are you passionate about your work?” to a Letter Carrier, a Bank Teller, a dollar store Cashier or a recycling truck Driver and you might get an odd, bewildering look. Because we are so very different and perceive different values in work performed, you just might find a mixture of people who go about their day with passion and those that don’t in all professions. So while you and I might not work with passion if we were Telemarketers, there would certainly be some among the staff who do – and the same goes with any other job.

The problem for many however is trying to discover and ignite personal passion. How to find the single job that’s right for me personally; the one you I am destined to thrive in and find fulfillment in. As a matter of fact, this dilemma can paralyze a person into doing nothing for fear of choosing the wrong job or the wrong company fit and so they do nothing.

Sometimes the best advice is to throw yourself into a job and pay attention to what you like and dislike in the work you do, the people around you and give it a real chance by investing in yourself while working. There is no actual single job you were destined for in my belief; I think it quite possible that there are many jobs that would bring any one person fulfillment and happiness.

In my own case, I certainly never considered the job of an Employment Counsellor when I was in my late teens or early 20’s. I didn’t know they even existed as I’d had no exposure to them or the work they did back then. Over my lifetime I’ve worked in retail, recreation and social services; been self-employed, worked for a provincial government, non-profit and private for profit organizations. I’ve worked with children, teenagers, adults, seniors and those who deal with physical / mental health challenges and those that don’t. It took me a long time to discover the role I have now and all those past experiences of mine make me a more complete Employment Counsellor now. I’m where I needed to be but had I been waiting for the ‘passion’ light to be illuminated, I might still be unemployed myself.

No matter the jobs I’ve held, I did what I believed was my best in each one of them. I worked with the attitude that every job had something to teach me if I was open to the learning. No job was too demeaning but that didn’t mean I stayed content – but I did stay working.

My advice therefore if you’re searching to discover your own passion is to throw yourself into the workforce and gain experiences – plural intended. Reinvent yourself if you choose to put in the effort required to do so. Yes of course you want to ideally be in a job that pays well, you’re good at and one that makes use of your talents.

Find the line between taking the time to choose wisely and taking too long to make the perfect decision. You don’t need to commit to any one job or career forever; you owe it to yourself.

 

Contemplating The BIG Questions


“I’ve got to find out what my purpose is in life before it’s too late.”

“What am I supposed to do with my life?”

“Sure I want to have a meaningful life. How do I do that?”

These questions, and others that are similar to them, are questions of the very best kind. But they’re tough questions to answer aren’t they?  I mean these are the really big ones; the “what is the purpose of life anyways?” kind of questions.

Some people hold the belief that each of us come to this world to accomplish some pre-determined objective. They call this fate or destiny. No matter what path we take to get to it, wherever we end up and whatever we do along the way to our end is out of our control. While we may think we are acting of our own free will, we are destined for whatever happens to us and things are largely beyond our control. If we make a huge change in our lives and appear to be changing direction, we are simply following a pre-set plan.

On the other hand, many people hold the belief that we are responsible for choosing whatever we do with the time we spend on Earth; that we have free choice and choose what we do with our lives. It’s this freedom to choose for ourselves what we do, how we spend our time that both excites and confuses us. If we look ahead to the end our lives, we can imagine ourselves either happy with how we’ve spent our time and thankful for the choices we made, or we imagine lamenting the passage of time, having wasted ours with the poor choices we made.

If you believe you have control over how you live your life, then the really big question of what to do with it becomes both fascinating and one of great responsibility. This question and others like it are the kind of questions that are asked best when you’re lying on the crest of a hill, under a canopy of stars on a summer’s night.

Hang on a second. That’s one scenario sure, but this is the kind of question that also forms in the minds of people walking down crowded city streets, sitting in the rear of taxi cabs, and by people trapped in cubicles working in offices every single day! I mean, haven’t YOU said to yourself more than once, “Is this it? Is this me for the rest of my life, sitting here at this desk, pushing this pen around, tapping on this keyboard? Was I really brought into this world to put nuts on these bolts day after day, year after year?” And haven’t you wondered, “What else is there for me to do? Is this really living?”

Well, not all of us can pack in our jobs and charter a three-masted galleon and explore the world for lost islands and new civilizations. Nor have we all the inclination or the resources to search for and discover Atlantis, colonize Jupiter, discover the cure for Cancer, create the winning design for the flag of Utopia, or make first contact with the inhabitants of some inter-planetary life forms. Well, finding Atlantis would be pretty cool, but some of us probably don’t even like water on our faces let alone submerge ourselves thousands of feet beneath the surface.

So really, what would make us happy is largely an individual thing. And here I raise another essential question. In terms of what to do with our lives is there only one thing that would make us happy, or are there numerous things that would bring us satisfaction? I mean if there is only a single job or career that would ignite this passion everybody talks about, well, that’s a lot of pressure considering the clock of life never pauses. On the other hand, if there is more than one single thing in this world that would excite us, fuel us, motivate us to feel happy and content, we’ve got a better chance of figuring out what that is. And if I expand on that, what if there are not just a few but many different ways to spend our lives, and in each of those many ways we would feel we’ve achieved a manner of success? That relieves some pressure to get it right!

Now, none of us know exactly how long our time on Earth is, nor do we know the state of our mental and physical health down the road. Time, health, available resources, opportunities, luck – all of us have in varying amounts. Perhaps instead of asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” – Predicated on the premise that there is only a single thing we will be – what if we asked, “What experiences would you like to have?”

Experiences we would like to have can morph, evolve, come into our consciousness, become less or greater priorities, shift with our age, health, finances. The people we meet introduce us to new possibilities; those we choose to share our lives with have their own dreams and plans too.

What you choose to experience during your life, with whatever time you have is largely up to you. If you knew you had another fifty years, what would you do? Would you answer differently if you only had another 7 months? Why?

How Do I Find The Right Job?


More and more unemployed people I listen to are telling me something similar. They are stuck looking for work because they are stuck trying to find that one job out of all the jobs in the world that they will absolutely love. As they haven’t felt any real passion for any one job to date, they are struggling trying to find the job that will bring this to them; in short, they’ve stalled.

Is there a mistake however in believing that for every person on the planet there is only one kind of work that is the perfect job? Do we all even need to have a, ‘perfect’ job in the first place? How about we notch it down a tad and have a very good job or even lower so we can feel we have a good job? Would you be okay with a good job? I bet many would settle on that.

This begs the question, “What is a good job?” To answer this, it’s necessary to understand that you’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask. Some (but not all) of the factors that make a job a good job might include: stability, security, short commute, supportive environment, benefits, safe working conditions, enough income to pay the bills and still have money for the fun things in life, opportunities for advancement. Any one of the above however will never be agreed upon by everyone you ask.

Truth be told it doesn’t matter if we come to an agreement or not on what makes a job a good job. What matters is what YOU think makes a job a good job if YOU are the person looking for one. In other words, were I working with you, I’d be making a poor assumption if I imposed my own idea of what makes up a desirable job on you.

While you might be the kind of person who values finding a permanent full-time job, of greater value to someone else is finding a job that is a one-year contract. They don’t like being tied down to a job forever. They like going from job to job, employer to employer, contract to contract. They enjoy meeting new people, the variety of work, being appreciated for filling in holes in an organization during maternity or paternity leaves. These kind of people perform better over the short-term and a year is the perfect length of a job before they move on. Temporary agencies are a welcomed source of employment for them and they love it.

I will say one mistake I think many people do make is choosing to stay unemployed until they become aware of that one job that will be perfect for them. If you are reasoning that it doesn’t make sense to work in a job you aren’t entirely passionate about because it will take away the time you could be spending looking for that one perfect job, that to me is an error.

The most obvious reason this is a mistake in judgement is that if you prolong your unemployment by choice, you will risk developing some poor behaviours and your lack of work history will not impress that employer you eventually want to work for. Any hope of developing transferable skills you could take from one job to your dream job can’t occur.

A lot of people only become aware of the many kinds of jobs out there through the contacts they make in their work. Most people in fact learn of the different kinds of jobs through someone who they meet at work. If you have co-workers, supervisors, meet people in other departments of a company while training, or network with staff of other companies, that’s a lot of people who might casually speak of other people in other jobs and one of those might be what you would really enjoy. But you have to be working to have this wealth of contacts. You won’t run into these people and learn of these other jobs isolating yourself from the workforce.

There is some merit in working at a variety of jobs. Take a job, determine what you like and don’t like about it. Take another job, do the same. Eventually you learn about yourself and what for you personally is attractive and what you want to avoid. You’ll also learn skills along the way in every job you take. These skills are going to make you more attractive to employers.

There are many jobs I believe that will make you happy and which you’ll enjoy doing, not just one. Instead of fretting over making a bad choice and becoming paralyzed, best to work at a job with a short-term vision, learn some new skills, brush up on your existing skills, meet and listen to the people there about what they do and learn of other jobs. You can still keep your eyes and ears open to other possibilities.

I only took my current job as an Employment Counsellor in my late 40’s. I didn’t even know such a job existed quite frankly until I was working for my current employer in another role. Had I not taken that job, I wouldn’t have discovered this job.

Don’t fret about what you want to do with the rest of your life; what do you want to do with the next year or two?