It’s Probable You’re In The Wrong Job


It’s a huge world we live in, with everything from densely populated urban areas to rural districts and places of relative isolation. There’s mountainous regions, prairies and wetlands, coasts, deserts, wastelands and watersheds. Out of the billions of places you might have entered the world, chance plopped you into it where it did. Where you entered this game of Life is one of the key determinants to what you’ll do job/career-wise.

Speaking of jobs and careers, there’s an abundance of these world-wide too. If you attempted to list all the jobs that exist in the world, how do you think you’d fare? My guess is you’d do poorly – and so too would I for that matter. There are those jobs we’d readily find in many populous areas world-wide like Servers, Teachers, Factory Workers, Drivers etc. and we’d likely have these pop to mind. However would you also have Dolly Grip, Actuarial Analyst, Pet Insurance Agent, Bung Hole Borer or Brand Evangelist on your list? No, not likely.

The thing is, there are more jobs we don’t know exist than those we do. So what are the odds that you’re in the single perfect job – I mean, THE one you were put on this planet to excel at? Doesn’t it appear rather unlikely that of all the places you could be in the world, somehow you occupy the one city block you were meant to occupy, and that the one job – that single, perfect role you were meant to aspire to and succeed at is within an easy commute? While we’re at it, if you believe soulmates and partners are a one in a million catch, what are the odds they live nearby too? You’re odds of having the perfect job, in the perfect community, living happily with the person you were put on this earth to love for all eternity is astronomical!

Hang on a moment, let’s not get carried away. As we look around, we do see people – and plenty of them – who are happily engaged in the work they do, they’re in healthy, loving relationships and they fit in with the environment they live in. So how did they beat such incredible odds? More importantly, if they did it, how can we duplicate that happiness and success?

It begins with discarding the notion that there is only a single job in existence that will bring us satisfaction. This notion that we have to find that one job we were meant to do is the delusion that keeps many from finding job satisfaction. You can travel to other cities, countries, continents even, and end up doing a job that had you looked, you’d have found nearby in your own community, or in dozens of communities around the globe. So if you’re born in the city but dig a mining career (hope you enjoyed that one), yes you might find yourself relocating to a mining town, but there are lots of those to choose from.

The truth in my opinion is that we’re a multi-talented creature we humans, and as such, there are many jobs that will stimulate our need for job satisfaction. If being around people and helping others is our thing, we can fulfill this desire in many professions; any one of which will bring us happiness and have us feel satisfied at the end of a day. If we’re more inclined to like work that we do in relative isolation, we don’t have to be a Forest Ranger in a lookout tower or even leave the cities we find ourselves in. There exist jobs right in the heart of densely populated cities that people do in isolating roles.

One thing I’d encourage you to do, and do with periodic regularity, is find a quiet space and listen to yourself. It sounds trite, it sounds corny, it might sound downright silly and a right eyerolling, “you’ve got to be kidding?” moment, but listen to your inner voice. If you don’t go to work happily on most days, if you don’t find satisfaction in your work and find yourself clock-watching every fifteen minutes, what are you doing there? You’ve got this one life and time is ticking. As time goes on, options you once had start disappearing. The prison you might find yourself in, chained to a job you come to loathe is one of your own design. Get out into the world and move on before you close the door on yourself. If you don’t, blame yourself, not the world.

If you don’t hear that inner voice pulling you in some other direction, excellent! However, if something keeps nagging at you that there has to be something better, something different, more fulfilling; shouldn’t you be paying attention to that pull? I mean at least explore the possibility of whatever it is that suggests there’s something else you could and probably should be doing? The price you pay to look around is cheaper than the fortune it’ll cost you to lock yourself into a job that brings you nothing but money.

Sure, there’s the usual snags to this thinking: “I have bills, responsibilities, people depend on me, I have to play it safe, my time has come and gone.” Seriously? That’s sad isn’t it? You’re hearts still beating right? Oh good, because it sounded like you were already dead.

A stimulating job or career is nearby; open your mind and your eyes to the possibilities and do something great!

Must A Short-Term Job Be In Your Career Field?


I had the opportunity yesterday to listen as a 22 year-old woman explained to her fellow classmates what job or career she was after. She cited her long-term objective in Policy Development and went on to say that in the short-term she would do just about anything but it absolutely had to be related to her long-term objective or she’d feel it was a waste of her time.

So how do you feel about that statement? Would you agree that short-term jobs should be related to your own long-term goals in order to be a valuable use of your time?

It’s commendable of course that she’s got a long-term career objective. While it’s not mandatory in order to have a rewarding career, having a vision of what you want and knowing how you’re going to achieve it is one way to successfully move forward. It is, and I say with personal experience, not the only recipe for success.

This I hope comes as good news if you feel anxious about what your future holds. If you should be undecided about what you want to do on a long-term basis, it can feel paralyzing as well in the short-term should you feel you can’t apply for jobs not knowing if they’ll help you or not in the long run.

Allow me to share a little of my own experience in the hopes you might find it comforting. It wasn’t until 13 years ago, back in 2006 that I became an Employment Counsellor. That would put me at 46 years old as I embarked on what has been a rewarding, successful and fulfilling career. Prior to this I’d held a variety of different positions; some of them careers and others I’d call jobs. Whichever they were at the time didn’t really concern me as much as enjoying each I had, finding the pros and cons of each once in them and moving on when the cons outweighed the pros.

I didn’t have a long-term goal to work towards. I didn’t in my early twenties, even know that Employment Counsellors existed, so it was impossible therefore for me to have aspired to be one. Further, I suspect that had I graduated out of University and immediately had the fortune to be hired as an Employment Counsellor, my effectiveness would be very different without my life experiences to draw on.

Looking back in no particular order, I ran my own New and Cooperative Games business for 16 years after a year-long position working for the Province of Ontario; sold shoes and clothes; worked at a bowling alley; a video store; worked as a Programme Manger for a Boys and Girls Club; have been an Executive Director for a Social Services agency; worked for two municipalities as a Social Services Caseworker, and another for years in the field of Recreation. I have also worked in the private sector as an Area Supervisor, leading those who provided care in schools before, between and after classes. I’ve sold photography equipment in a mall, worked in a toy department of a major retailer, even spent one day filling in for a friend in a hot plastics factory. I’ve got summer residential camp experience, sat on volunteer boards and committees too. One year I was asked to lead an International Drug Awareness team in St. Lucia.

Whew! All over the map and one of the best examples I can think of where there sure doesn’t appear to be a linear history of progressive experience in the same field. I’ve worked for a province, two municipalities, the private and non-profit sectors as well as having been self-employed. My work has been in Retail, Recreation, Social Services and the Education sectors. I’ve also been on the front-line, middle management and senior management. I’ve had employment ended, quit, been promoted, been on strike, had to reinvent myself, and build up skills I didn’t know I had, use transferable skills and learn job-specific skills. In short, I’ve become resilient.

Now, here’s the best part. If you can believe it, all of these experiences have shaped who I am, how I think and act, given me empathy and understanding for a wide diversity of people with whom I partner. In short, I’m a decent Employment Counsellor today at 59 years-old BECAUSE of the path I took to get here.

My 22 year-old woman will likely change careers and jobs over the course of her lifetime. Jobs she eventually holds and loves might not even exist in 2019; maybe they’ll appear in 2032. Who knows?

Advice I believe to be sound is to gain experiences; paid and unpaid. Learn from what you do not just about the work, but how you feel as you do it. Always do your best to reward those who hired you and best serve those you call customers, clients, etc. You never know where life will take you; which job you may return to having left once (as I did). Treat employees and your Supervisors well for these are your future references.

All of the combined experiences I’ve had – just as you are collecting your own – are the things that are going to uniquely position us for jobs moving forward. “Why should I hire you?” is my favourite interview question. I can draw on all my past experiences; both the pros and the cons. Nobody out there has the same path as me. Or you for that matter!

Stuck On Picking A Career


Sometimes we get stuck right? I mean, we have a vague idea of what it is we think we’d like, but as I say, it’s a vague or general idea. This is when we say things such as,, “Well I’d like to work with animals,” “I want to help people”, or “I’m good with my hands.” While these kind of statements are good starting places and represent an early first step in career decision-making, some people will get stuck moving beyond one of these broad sweeping statements.

While it might seem pretty common for people in their late teens and early 20’s to be typically thinking about what to do career-wise and getting stuck, it can happen to anyone at any time. Take you . Uh huh, you.

Have you got one of those LinkedIn titles that says, “Open to new opportunities”? No? Maybe yours says, “Looking to make a difference!” or “Seeking new challenges.” Ah, so you do have one of these or something close to one.  Even after having read any of these three, the reader is still no closer to knowing what it is you want. This is because you don’t either. Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself you’re being deliberately vague so you keep your options open. Sure. I’ve seen a lot of resumes over the years that start with the same kind of statements; “Looking for an opportunity to use my skills and grow with the company”. Even after having read that opening objective statement, the goal is still completely unknown. What a waste of 13 words on the résumé!

The problem however, is defining not just to the world, but to ourselves, what it is we want to do. If we could do that, then we could figure out the steps we need to take to move closer to our goal. We could for example figure out that we need a certain Diploma, Course or Degree and then happily invest the time and money to go pursue it; confidently knowing that we’re on the right track and with every day getting closer to our ultimate employment goal.

However, isn’t the real issue here that we don’t often know – that is – YOU don’t know what the end goal is? I mean, that’s what makes the idea of school and its associated cost so intimidating right? I mean, sure going to school to get more knowledge is great but with no goal, what if we choose wrong? What if we end up spending thousands of dollars and 2 or 3 years of our life in school only to find that we don’t really want to do whatever it is we’re in school for by the time we graduate? That would definitely be a waste of time and money and we’d be no further ahead. Or so we’ve told ourselves over and over.

So you’re paralyzed; stuck. Every day seems like spinning the same record around and around, trying to decide what to do? What to be? Look up the song, “Big Time Operator” by Keith Hampshire. Figure out this one thing and you’re good to go.

Okay so let’s see if we can’t help out here. Start with giving yourself both the permission to get going and forgiveness if you get it wrong. Who told you that you have to get it right this time or your entire life is a failure? That’s just not true. Work, for all its worth, is only one part of who you are; one part of what defines you.

To find a career, let me simplify things. First you need to be exposed to some possibilities and then you investigate them. You can gain exposure to careers a number of ways. Talk to people and ask them what they do, ask your local employment centre what careers are in demand, use the internet and search careers in your vague, generalized areas of choice. “Helping people careers”, “Jobs with animals” or “Physical jobs”, “Manual labour careers”.  You can also search what are called, “NOC CODES.” National Occupation Classification codes. You can search by skills, or even an alphabetical listing and see what jobs exist; many you might be entirely unaware of. So these ideas give you exposure.

Now, having exposed yourself to more possibilities that might interest you, choose a few and start investigating. Before looking to see how much the job is in demand or how much it pays, you’ll want to know if this is something that only sounds good or if it sounds good and in fact it interests you once you’ve done some research.

Find people in the roles you’re considering and talk to them. Set up meetings, email them some questions, have some conversations. Learn what’s good and bad, what skills and education are needed, how they got started and how they’d get started today if they were just beginning as things may have changed. Then ask them for the names of others you might talk to.

The more you learn, the more you’ll feel the job is right for you or not. When you start getting enthusiastic about a job, look into education requirements, the labour market, where the opportunities are. Still interested? Feeling on the right track? That’s because you are! But to get to this point, you have to get moving.

Remember how long you’ve been stuck where you are and know that continuing to do nothing won’t move you forward.

Don’t Know What To Do?


So much of the advice one seems to get these days is to find a job / occupation which you’ll be passionate about. There is good reason for this of course; being enthusiastic about your work on a daily basis will improve your attendance, your productivity, keep you working cooperatively with similarly motivated people and you’ll be happier of course.

It makes sense from so many angles then to love the work you do. However, as we build up the importance of knowing what you want to do and being passionate about it, there is an unintended problem being created for those who haven’t yet figured out where their passion lies. If one agrees with how finding their passion will improve their overall happiness but they can’t define it, they’ll often develop anxiety and fear where they previously might not have before learning the value of feeling passion in their work.

Then what happens is people set out to discover what they would be passionate about but do this as an intellectual exercise only. That is to say instead of taking jobs and discovering what they like and don’t like and using their experiences to get closer to a passionate experience, they imagine what a job might be like. When they only imagine the job and project their best guesses as to what it would feel like, they’re going to more often than not make errors in judgement and reject jobs out of hand. I see this all the time.

What I have observed is that many unemployed people will make a generalized statement such as, “I know I want to work with people” for example. Now there are very few jobs where other people aren’t in some way part of the employment experience. The statement is far too broad to really be much of a guide to finding employment that will be highly satisfactory. Further questions and answers are needed to narrow this all-encompassing statement down to something much more definitive.

What field(s) would be of interest? Health? Forestry? Environmental? Business? Technology? Science? In describing the end-users who would benefit from your work; are they disabled, elderly, home owners, vacationers, dieters, religious, teens in trouble, wealthy etc. The list can be incredibly long! Further, in addition to the end-users, what about your co-workers? Are you hoping they are open-minded, intellectual, task-oriented, curious, aggressive, friendly, dependent? here is as you can see so much to determine when starting with such statements.

Somehow we’ve got it wrong I think. Yes I think while we’ve done a good job getting people to buy-in to the idea of finding work that will fuel our passion as the path to happiness, we’ve done a poor job building in the supports to help figure out what that is. The good news is that more people need to hear that many jobs and multiple careers will provide happiness; that a person can work passionately in a number of jobs. The pressure to find that single job on the planet one was destined to do is a fallacy.

As soon as one believes there are many jobs that will bring happiness and job satisfaction, the pressure goes down a little to find one. Now the person is looking for one of those jobs, not THE job; a huge shift in focus. While thinking about what might bring you happiness is a worthwhile exercise, over-thinking about what might bring you happiness is not. Over-thinking things can stall forward movement; developing a situation where someone feels stuck and afraid of choosing incorrectly.

Yes, sometimes the best action a person can take is to get out and work with the purpose of trying various jobs and all the while evaluating the good and the bad, the pros and the cons of the work they perform. As one moves from job to job, doing more of the things one likes and less of the things one has learned they don’t makes each successive job more fulfilling.

The person therefore who says they want to work with people might start in the kitchen of a restaurant. While they like the teamwork there they may not like the stress of making sure every plate looks identical to another or the pressure of delivering so many meals quickly and perfectly. So the teamwork is appealing and the food industry is not. Strike out kitchen work but retain the teamwork. Next they work on a team canvassing neighbourhoods for donations for a charity. Again the teamwork is positive and being outdoors is refreshing but they learn they just aren’t cut out to pitch and sell. Teamwork and the outdoors are pros, selling and the kitchen are out. You get the idea I hope.

This kind of process takes time and much experimentation, trial and error. All the while though, you’re on a journey where you learn about your likes and dislikes, you discover what you’re good at, where you derive your happiness most often. At some point you find you’ve figured it out, and it could be in a job you didn’t even know existed when you first started out on your journey.

Take a deep breath and exhale and then do it two or three more times. You’re in this for the long haul and give yourself permission to experiment. Finding passion in your work is great but working while learning about your likes and dislikes is valuable too.

 

 

Maybe You’re A Young Person With An Old Problem?


Last Friday, I had a chance encounter with a young woman who had an appointment with one of my Employment Counsellor peers. She had just finished a 3 week Life Skills class, and so it is our practice to schedule a 1:1 meeting afterwards and talk about the next steps.

Our meeting happened just because as she arrive and signed in at the reception counter I myself was walking through going from one room to another. I could have said hello and kept walking and that would have been perfectly acceptable, but I wasn’t busy at the moment, and I thought I’d chat for a moment if she was open to it.

Turns out she was quite receptive to a talk as well, and having been in a class of my own in the past, and having talked briefly in passing over those same last three weeks, we quickly got on. When I asked her where she was going at this point as a next step, she told me she didn’t really know.

At 22 years old, her career path wasn’t clear, and she was feeling pressure. What kind of pressure and from whom? Two sources actually; herself first and foremost and from her family. Yes at 22, she felt that by now she should know exactly what she wanted to do for the next 40 years of her life and people where wondering what was wrong with her.

Doesn’t this sound like a common problem for many people? You know, if we really break 22 years down, it’s not like she’s had 22 years to choose a career and been wasting her time. At infancy, no baby I’ve ever read about looked out through their eyes and mused, “I’m on my way to becoming an Arborist.” Infants take milk in and empty themselves, sleep, cuddle and cry. Well done. At this point, all the babies of the world have figure out just about the same things in life.

Then there are pre-school years where the biggest life objectives are to play and have fun. Oh sure there are little lessons to be learned like how to tie your shoes, what you can play with and what you can’t, where you can toddle off to and where you shouldn’t go. Then comes kindergarten and public school and children are exposes to some adults with careers and jobs. The simple first books children read have adults with jobs but again no 7-year-old is seriously asked to choose their career path yet.

It’s only with the arrival of high school then that most of the teens who are morphing out of childhood are asked to think seriously about jobs and careers to pursue. Teens though are more concerned with things like acne, puberty, their first kiss, will they ever be kissed?, making friends, fitting in, school marks, wearing the right clothes, not saying anything that will ruin their desired image, saying the right things that will please everyone and maybe score them a boyfriend or girlfriend. That job and career stuff can wait.

So, although the school Guidance Counsellor is impressing upon young people to take the right classes so they are ready for college or university – the choice of which could well determine if they get a certain career or not – many young people haven’t really got a clue. So there she could be at 18, being hurled out into the big bad world and only really thinking about a career or job seriously for the first time. That was 4 years ago.

Now while she didn’t go to college or university, many who do head off to those schools of higher education often choose to change their majors, opt for different careers they get exposed to. In short, changing your mind about what you want to do is normal. When I was young I remember being told that the average person changes their career about 3 or 4 times, and has about 9 different jobs over their lifetime. So where’s the pressure coming from to get it right on the first try?

I blame Aunt Ethel and Aunt Lois really. Oh you might have Aunts and Uncles with different names, but they are to blame just the same. Why? Well it’s them that started asking every time you saw them that standard question you never had an answer to, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Here’s one thing to think about; some advice really. Stop over-thinking. If you have a clear idea what it is you want to do, that’s wonderful. All the best and if you later change your mind, that’s okay, you’re not a failure. If on the other hand, you don’t know what you’d like to do, just do something. Sell shoes or clothes, bag groceries in a store, flip burgers for a while, work on a factory assembly line, when your Employment Counsellor is talking with you, imagine yourself in their job.

To prevent stalling and growing anxiety, just work or volunteer. Do many things and find out what you like and don’t. Those jobs will give you experience, references and build your fragile self-esteem. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have it all figured out at 22. At an unemployed 22, you may not be the envy of every other working adult, but many of those adults do envy one thing you do have at 22;  the gift of time to figure it out.

There isn’t only 1 perfect job for you. There are dozen’s of jobs you’ll enjoy so try them out!