How Long To Wait To Job Search?


Okay, so you’ve found yourself out of work. After your previous job, you figure a break is in order; you know, that transition from what you were doing to what you’ll do in the next job. So how much time exactly is right before getting on with looking for a job?

Attitude is everything here; yes attitude will decide what you do and how long you give yourself to get into the job hunting mode. You may be the kind of person who figures that the best thing to do is get right back in the hunt immediately. You know yourself better than anyone, and you can’t afford to lie about and rest because the stress of being out of work will gnaw at you constantly, making your ‘break’ time an ongoing worry. You won’t treat yourself to rest and relaxation, won’t spend money on entertainment, a trip or personal indulgences because you’re concerned about exhausting your resources. It would be different of course if you knew definitively that your unemployment will last a specific time period, but you don’t have this information.

Then too, you could be the type that figures life is short and therefore taking a break from work is what life is really all about. So you’ll indulge guilt-free; after all, Life owes you. Jobs will be there for the taking when you decide to get one, but in the meantime, it’s ‘me’ time; guilt-free and bring it on baby!

Or, has your experience been that the job you’ve most recently had ended so terribly that you need some down time to recover your dignity, self-worth; self-esteem? Maybe it ended with your termination, a shouting match, allegations made against you, you had a bad boss or a toxic work environment. Your break is really a mental health recovery period.

You see there are all kinds of different ways we justify the short, moderate or long periods of time that elapse between our former jobs and looking for the next one.

There are some things you need to be aware of however. Whether these things change your decision to get back immediately or further put off looking for work is entirely up to you – of course – but make sure you are at least aware of these factors:

  1. Your competition increases. New graduates emerge from Universities and Colleges with up-to-date practices and education, and they’re hungry. Your experience is your edge, so conventional wisdom says the longer you let your experience lag, the less your experience works in your favour.
  2. Employers prefer consistent work history. Gaps on a résumé raise questions for employers. If you’ve got gaps, expect to be asked why they exist and what you’ve done with your time. If you’ve improved yourself via courses and upgrading education that’s one thing; but if you’ve played video games and sat around staring at your belly button, that’s another.
  3. Mental Health healing. If you did have a really bad break from your last job, maybe – just maybe – getting a job outside your career would be best for your mental recovery. Seriously, work will keep you connected to people, your poor experiences of the past will be replaced by your present activity; you’ll fill in a gap on the résumé and you’ll get new references. When you do apply for work back in your field, “Why are you leaving your present job” will refer to the job you have in the short-term, not the job prior to that you’re fretting over now.
  4. Time erodes things. Your references, experience and accomplishments fade with time. That shiny letter of reference that’s two weeks old means a lot now but it won’t mean as much 7 months from now if you wait that long to get back in the job search mode. “What have you done lately?”
  5. Less baggage; fewer problems. While being out of work is a problem, you haven’t yet the stress and anxiety of having a prolonged job search, rejection from employers, depression etc. These negatives can and often do take seed in the lives of people who find it harder to get work than they previously imagined. Sometimes getting back at it can ward off social isolation, increasing fears associated with financial problems that come with no incoming resources.

Now, lest you think I’m really recommending you jump right back into the job search as a blanket statement for everyone, let me assure you I’m not. No, a period of time to process what’s happened to you is a good thing. You may need time to decompress if the job you left was one fraught with pressure and negativity.  How much time is the issue. What’s right for you might be different from what I’d do myself.

Even if you don’t actually apply, keeping up on the market and job openings is healthy and a good idea. You’d hate to learn that seldom-advertised opening came and went while you were almost ready but just taking a few more days to clean the garage.

Finally, it’s a good idea to stay connected to others. Call it networking okay, but really it’s about the interpersonal skills, the connectivity to others. Lately I’ve heard of many self-described ‘normal’ people who develop social anxieties, leading to serious isolation issues and a fear of even going out their door.

Take time…but not forever.

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Job Search Stress? This Is Normal; To A Degree


Looking for a job and feeling stressed often go together. In fact, any time you work towards getting something you don’t have at the moment typically puts you in a state of stress; both body and mind.

Buying  a house, expecting a child, looking for a place for your aging parent(s) to move where they’ll get ongoing care; even buying your first car – these things can often bring with them varying degrees of stress and anxiety. You’ll note that each could be a positive thing I’ve listed; just like getting a job. Each requires some effort to first get and then adjust to.

Now looking for work requires effort as well; mental energy to start. Questions such as where to work, what kind of work to choose, the level of income required when looking, then self-assessing your current skills, education and experience compared to what the job ads say the employers are expecting. One main reason this process of looking for a job induces stress is because we are forced to engage in doing things we typically don’t put much thought into when we are already working somewhere.

While employed, we don’t think much about our résumé and writing cover letters. Nor do we worry about performing well in job interviews, making cold calls, applying for then being rejected again and again. For even when we have a job and go looking for another one to replace it, the stress can be quite different because we have a job at present. Hence we might not have the same level of stress wondering how we’ll pay bills, pay for transportation to job search or put food on the table. For the time being we’ve got income rolling in, so we can also job search for something better at a more relaxed pace.

Conversely, the out-of-work person quite often has increasing stress levels. A prolonged job search can be extremely stressful as savings get depleted, hope fades, stamina drains, confidence drops, desperation sets in and thoughts of, ‘will I ever work again?” take up residence.

If you’ve felt – or more importantly I know – if you FEEL these things now – you’re experiencing a normal reaction to the situation in which you find yourself. While it might be normal however, it’s not a good idea to spend any more time than necessary in this state. Some people do though, and by choice; here’s why…

Imagine you’re on a roller coaster. You start with the exhilaration and expectations of what it will be. When you’re on it, the highs and lows come as you figured, but soon you feel trapped and can’t get off. Every so often you plateau out and momentarily feel more in control. Given the highs and lows, that momentary control feels preferable to more highs and lows. To feel less of the lows, you start avoiding the pleasurable highs, only because the lows are following those highs with predictable regularity. Eventually you might then be okay – not happy mind but definitely okay – with plateauing out lower than you thought you’d ever do when you first got on.

Job searching can be similar. You begin with high expectations and the possibilities are enticing; a better job, more income, something new to learn and experience. There’s the high of applications and interviews, and the lows of being ignored completely or passed over and rejected. You reapply yourself,  redouble your efforts only to find the expected results are materializing. The odd day comes when you do little to nothing job search wise. Then you recommit your energy and soon find you’ve applied to 30, 50 or more jobs all unsuccessfully. Confused, disillusioned, disappointed and frustrated, you pack it in and coast…

The thing about this analogy of the roller coaster is that in the real world the ride stops and you get off. You know when you get on the ride is only of a certain duration and then it’s over. When you take your seat on the Job Search Rollercoaster, you don’t know how long the ride will be nor do you know the cost of the ride financially and mentally, nor can you see ahead to view all the ups and downs, curves, loops and plateaus.

Let me remind you why you got on this ride in the first place; to have something better than what you had. If you find yourself screaming, “Please! I want to get off!” to some apparently absent amusement operator, let me point out the person with the ride controls is you. You can experience this journey alone or when it’s slowing down, you can ask others to hop onboard and help you gain some measure of control by explaining how the ride works.

It’s true! Whether you work with a government paid Job Coach, Employment Counsellor or pay for one privately, or even ask someone to mentor you, there’s helpful people all around you just for the asking. Riding the rails can be exciting for some, grow tiresome quickly for others, and cause pain and discomfort for many who’ve been on much too long. Like so many things in life, sharing the experience instead of going it alone can be helpful and in this case, cut the length of time you spend figuring things out for yourself.

So, while the stress of job searching is normal, be cautious of the length of time you spend searching alone; there’s a lot at stake.

A Glimpse Into The Social Assistance Experience


If you’ve never needed it, I doubt you’ve thought a great deal about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of the Social Assistance experience. Your knowledge and assumptions are probably based on what you hear in the news when an individuals’ story is profiled, from a candidate around election time or perhaps you’ve got a friend or family member who has shared a little of their own experience.

It has been my great honour and privilege to serve and support those receiving such benefits in two Municipalities; Toronto and Durham in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario for a total of 21 years and counting. In addition to this experience, my wife has 16 or so years of experience herself working in another municipality. While my experience is extensive, I’ve never been on the receiving end myself, and I hope the choices I’ve made and continue to make into the future don’t land me in such need.

That being said, if the time comes when I’m in need, I know now that I’d be thankful the support system was there to help get me through such times until once more I became financially self-sufficient.

It can be a very demeaning and embarrassing process to apply for welfare. In Ontario Canada it’s referred to now as Ontario Works, but to many in receipt, it is and will always be welfare.  It all starts with a phone call to apply in which someone in need talks to someone in what is akin to a call centre. The conversation while initiated by someone in need is pretty much led by the receiving employee asking preset questions. Full name, address, SIN and Health numbers, rent/mortgage information, family members, assets, banking information, investments, etc.; all of which will need to be verified at an in-person meeting to determine eligibility.

I get that it can strip one of their pride and self-worth. With every document you hand over to some stranger, with every disclosure of your personal circumstances such as whether you’ve been abused or the name of your child’s father or mother and where they might be, you give up a little dignity. While most in this field are very good at getting this information in a caring compassionate way, no amount of empathy can change that stuff you’d normally keep private and confidential must be fully disclosed.

Now the agenda of the person in need is pretty clear. Almost all the time, there’s a stated desperation present or looming; rent and food. Get approved and the rent gets paid and people eat. Get denied and a missed rental payment eviction and hunger, a visit from the child welfare authorities, homelessness, begging and worse, having to steal to survive.

If as my piece began you’ve not had to experience social assistance, maybe you’re completely unaware of the community resources you’ll have to tap into. Where would you find the kitchens, thrift stores, donation centers, etc.? If you needed your ID replaced to get many of these benefits, would you know where to go and remember it’s likely you’d have to walk or take public transportation; taking your child or children with you everywhere if you were a sole support parent without a trusted, reliable childcare provider.

Now meeting with us in Social Services for many is a good experience in the end. However, in those first few meetings, the anxiety and stress of anticipating what that experience will be like is often influenced by past meetings and stereotypes of government workers. Just as you’ve no doubt got frustrated with being put on hold, re-directed, not getting through to the person you need to talk to etc. when calling for help yourself, the experience can be like that for some. What increases the importance of getting through is the immense pressure and stress of failing to get the help asked for.

Look there are a lot of really good, compassionate and empathetic people in the business of providing social assistance recipients with support. While these are good qualities, what’s really needed in addition are people both knowledgeable and able to share that same knowledge of resources needed in any one person’s situation. Whether it’s a benefit we can issue ourselves or a benefit another service provider offers, connecting people with what they need is imperative.

On the receiving end, people want to be heard, respected, treated with dignity and foremost be a person; not a case, not a number and no, not a client. Most aren’t in receipt by choice. On top of their financial needs, many have multiple barriers to employment including gaps in work history, mental health challenges, anxiety, low self-esteem. You’d be surprised though to find highly educated professionals in receipt of help; people with their Masters and Degrees perhaps. Yes, really.

Hopefully, supporting people in need is done in the way we would wish to be treated were it us on the other side of the table or end of the phone. “Do onto others…” And while we may have our hopes and plans for people, it’s critical to listen and figure out where someone is at any given moment. I mean, are they ready to job search? Would job searching just set them up to fail at the moment? Do they need stable housing first, addiction intervention, counselling, or maybe to volunteer to rebuild a shattered confidence?

Just the briefest glimpse into this experience.

Feel Like You’re Failing? Consider This


Failing and the fear of failing (two very different things) can keep you from eventually getting where you want to be, or having what you most want.

Now let’s be honest with each other here; failing at some things is much more significant and personal than with others. Failing to tie our shoes tight enough could mean for most of us that we simply look down and seeing they are yet again untied, we bend down and tie them again. Not a major issue, we just had to do it twice.

However, I acknowledge that failing at other things can be devastating and have severe consequences. In the very worst of scenarios, life or lives could be lost if a driver fails to stay on their side of the highway, we fail to wear a life jacket and our canoe overturns in open water or our parachute fails to open. These are just a few examples I say of the worst that could happen.

For job seekers, the issue of failing typically is described as putting in the time to apply and interview for a job and ultimately not being successful. The feeling is you’ve failed in the attempt to get hired. However, the feeling that you experience in such a situation is not shared in the same way by every person rejected as you might initially suspect.

No, some people will be devastated while others don’t seem negatively affected at all; and all the feelings in between the two extremes will be experienced by others. While the rejection itself is delivered the same to each applicant, the message received is experienced very differently. Why is this?

The answer in part is the importance each person assigns to the job opportunity in the first place. So the person who already has a job and is applying just to test the waters and see if they can advance might be only slightly affected. On the other hand, the unemployed person who’s pinned all their hopes on getting that job to stave off having their car or home repossessed by the Bank and their spouse give up on them could feel ruined.

Similarly, the stage at which you’re at in your job search has an impact. How many times have you applied and not been successfully offered the job? Are you just starting out and this is rejection number one or is this your 43rd in a row? Yikes!

Now there’s another reason that plays into how you feel and that’s what you’ve experienced beyond the job application process. Some people have the good fortune of having supportive people behind and around them. They see themselves as successful parents, worthy as an individual and their spouses, friends and family love them and encourage them in so many other ways, this failure is only one small blemish in one area of their life.

Most unfortunate however, is the person who has been told repeatedly that they will never amount to much, that their life is a series of failures in every regard. Victims of abusive relationships are often rebuked, put down, made to feel small and are often told they are nothing without the abuser. When they try and fail in their attempt to get a job, in their mind they really believe this is yet one more example of the truth they’ve been told; it is they who is a failure, not the job application.

I must tell you though that we all fail. Failing is a sign first that we’ve tried something; and trying is a good thing. Presumably it was trying to better ourselves, to get something we desired for whatever reason. Recognizing that we’ve tried is significant, so good for you.

Now, although unpleasant perhaps, it’s important to pause and think about why we were not ultimately successful. Yes this means thinking about an experience that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, but there’s a good reason for this; learning.

If we can learn some things about why we failed, we can then attempt to drop those same things in the future. So perhaps we need a stronger resume or add a cover letter. Maybe we need coaching or professional advice in terms of our interview skills. Why? Well, we might be saying something in an interview that seems okay to us but in fact is sending a different message entirely when heard by an interviewer.

I really don’t expect that you’ll smile and feel great when you’ve failed at getting a job in the future. No, you’re perfectly right to feel whatever you feel, be it sad, disappointment, short-term anger etc. Your feelings are valid because – well – they are YOUR feelings. Don’t apologize for how you feel.

After you’ve gone through what happened, look for some feedback and be genuine in your request, not defensive or argumentative as you listen to someone give you this feedback. You are after all attempting to learn so you increase your future chance of success.

Some of the most successful people you’ll meet have failed in the past and continue to fail as they learn new things. Remember you only need to succeed once – to get that job offer you want – and all those failures will diminish in comparison.

You my friend; yes you reading this, you are not defined by your failures.

She Might Be Someone You Know


There’s a lot to unpack, note and commend in her story.

Here’s the quick summary, name withheld. Woman leaves Lebanon with her husband, leaving behind 5 siblings along with her mom and dad; a close and loving family. Arriving in Canada, she is pregnant and speaks two languages, neither one of which is English. She knows no one beyond her husband in this new land, and soon finds that things are changing.

Here in Canada, she not only knows no one, she’s not ‘allowed’ to meet new people; and whereas in Lebanon she held a job as a Childcare provider complete with a College Diploma, here it’s pointless because she’s entirely supported by her husband. After the child turns two, he walks out, leaving her with no income, no friends, no job, no idea of where she stands financially, and no prospects.

She is well aware of other women who like her ended up being divorced here in Canada and in each case they had returned to their families in Lebanon. Her choice however has been to stay in Canada to give her son – now 13 years-old with a better future; putting his future ahead of her own wish to be reunited with her family.

So that’s it in a nutshell. What I learned beyond this bare-bones story is that in the 11 years since the husband walked out, she took the initiative to enrol in English as a Second Language classes, and now has full command of a third language. She’s also visited and continuously makes use of a Welcome Centre to learn about programs and services to improve her situation. Her son is still completely in the dark about their status as Social Assistance recipients. She doesn’t want to burden him with that knowledge and have him feel shame and embarrassment. When I heard her tell me this I wanted to tell her that she should trust his judgement and he might just surprise her with his understanding and respect for her in spite of being  on social assistance, but I kept silent as that’s not call to say so.

I then asked her a question which brought her to a full stop and tears to her eyes – although it was not my intention to do so. I asked, “So what do you do that’s just for you, not your son – just you?” Not surprisingly she said, “Nothing.” Now why you might wonder is this not a surprise to me? Well, it’s been my experience that many women who have been isolated by their partners are entirely devoted to their children; their children being everything that they live for. There is often nothing they do for themselves because any extra income goes to extra-curricular activities that the children are involved with. Sure enough, soccer and buying the things that teenage boys want and/or need to be socially ‘in’ consumes these things. Reading for pleasure isn’t something she does but she reads a lot of legal papers, government memo’s, social assistance letters etc. – and all of these she hides from the eyes of her son lest he pause to wonder if they are on welfare.

For a second time in our conversation I brought her to tears. You’d think I was going out of my way to do so! Such was not the case, but it happened. After hearing her story I said how much I admired what she’d accomplished on her own, getting established independent of her ex-husband, raising her child, committing to living in a country when all her family was back in Lebanon, learning about various services and what brought us together, her decision to attend an interview preparation workshop. Of course what I said that really got the tears flowing was that I wasn’t just proud of what she’d accomplished but that I was proud of her.

So why the tears? Years and years of being put down and told she’d never amount to anything; that she wasn’t important and no one would ever care whether she’d live or die hammered home low self-esteem. This you see is why I believe she doesn’t do anything just for herself – something that people with a healthy self-image regularly do. If you’ve been told you’re nothing and you’ve come to believe you’re nothing, then you do nothing that’s just for you; you don’t deserve it. Nonsense of course, but it takes a long, long time for some people to alter that belief system.

Apparently I am the first person in all the time she’s been in Canada who has said good things about her. That I felt, extremely humbling and even more a sad state of affairs. Mid-forties, in good shape, excellent attention to her appearance, a beautiful smile and equally good manners. A dedicated parent putting her child’s needs and happiness above her own.

Here’s another thing. Does she lay her burden on her parents back home in Lebanon with crying and how difficult life has been and continues to be? No. In fact, she’s no one to share with, no intimate friend to vent or confide in; all this bottled in and heaven only knows what else.

So the point? She’s not the only one. Be kind, be considerate, be above all compassionate and non-judgemental. You can bet that this woman’s story is playing out everywhere not just one isolated person I came into contact with.

Depression And, “Hello. How Are You?”


“Hello. How are you?”

Could you ask a more innocent, well-intentioned question? It’s almost automatic; typical of how we greet each other. Oddly enough, those who ask don’t always want to actually know how you’re doing, and those who answer don’t answer truthfully much of the time. Yet, again and again, for lack of a better, well-thought out form of greeting its used time and time again.

It’s true you know. Just pay attention and listen when you’re greeted by someone for one or two days as an experiment. Today being Monday, most of your co-workers will today say, “Hi, so how was your weekend?” Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, they’ll say, “Hi, how are you?”

A couple of days ago I sat down with someone suffering – and suffering is the right word by the way – with depression and poor mental health. He’s been out of work for over a year now, and his life-long depression is getting much worse. He told me that one of the things that bothers him more and more is the constant question of how he’s doing; especially from people he knows don’t want to really know.

Are you guilty of this? I know I am and I imagine you are too. I’m not naïve enough to actually believe that 95% of the people around me are fine or good; even though they say so. Sure many of us are good and doing well. However, it must be painful as this fellow says, to be living with depression and constantly asked how you are. He then told me how much his life was being affected. His favourite time of day is when he goes to bed – at 11:00p.m. usually. After lying awake for 2 hours, he sleeps until 11:00a.m., gets up and eats, then sits in front of the television almost the entire day, not going out unless he has to.

Now he’s cut back on family gatherings because so many of those extended family members are going to naturally ask him, “How are you?” and while he could tell them the truth, he knows they really don’t want to know, nor could they help him if they wanted to. Well, aside from stopping the asking of how he’s doing in the first place! So it’s a cycle of feeling ashamed of doing nothing day after day, seeing Life go by without improvement.

This depression has affected his memory too. He’s positive that he can’t be trusted to remember things he’s told, and so for now, work is out of the question. Not to mention the depression has left him little patience in some situations he might meet with the public. All this passive living is affecting his physical as well as mental health too. A lack of exercise has led to weight gain, lower self-esteem, poor stamina.

Yet, to meet with him you’d see a happy fellow, quick to laugh, friendly and knowledgeable about topics of the day. Kind of an Eleanor Rigby type, “wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door. Ah look at all the lonely people!”

Now how many people I wonder will you – and I – come into contact today who are similarly suffering from depression? Let’s make that Depression with a capital, “D”. When living with this mental illness, it can affect energy, focus, judgement, motivation, self-perception and it’s not just a quick visit to the doctor to get a quick fix. We’re talking long-term implications.

Sometimes there are medications to help change the chemical make-up of the brain and attempts to stimulate connections through electro-therapy. I’m certainly no expert in treatments although I’ve friends and co-workers as well as many clients and people who use my support and advice in the course of my job. While it’s helpful to listen without judgement, providing reassurance that talking about one’s mental health is okay with me and not a topic I find uncomfortable, it’s frustrating knowing that waiting lists for treatment are long, treatments aren’t always effective, and other than listening, what can I do?

While it’s not necessary to experience what another person is experiencing to be empathetic, sometimes I feel being an empathic listener just falls short really. I suppose though this one’s not about me – or you for that matter. This one is about the person with Depression. If listening with empathy helps them feel understood and helped, maybe that’s something.

Think how difficult it must be on a daily basis for someone living with Depression; post-traumatic or ongoing, anxiety, psychotic or personality disorders, etc. It must be and is for many, debilitating. So maybe when we see some person who appears to be lazy or worse yet able to do fun things but not work, maybe extending some compassion and erring on the side of considering they may have a mental health issue would be preferable to believing them to be sponging off others generosity or tax dollars when their perfectly capable of contributing.

I suppose we might choose to hold our tongue and check our thoughts; for truly, we have no idea to what degree someone might be suffering with and already feeling ashamed of themselves for not being more productive.

So today, instead of, “Hi. How are you doing?” maybe we might say, “Hi. What are you up to today?” or if you do ask how someone is doing, look them in the eye and pause long enough to hear and care what they answer.

Must Work Be Meaningful? To Whom?


I wonder if you’ve ever been advised to find a line of work where you can really find a strong sense of meaning in the work you’ll do? This advice typically is followed up with the promise that finding meaning in the work you’ll do will make whatever you’re doing rewarding; and in it being rewarding and meaningful, you’ll enjoy it  and life in general more.

It’s not bad advice really. There are many people who’d agree, if for no other reason than we spend a lot of our waking hours at work, and as all those hours add up, we’d best all be doing something meaningful to justify the investment of time.

However, the downside of this advice is that there are many people who don’t look to find meaning in the work they do, they just happily go in day in and day to work. Telling such people they’ll be happier searching for work they find real meaning in doing might just result in giving them something to worry or stress about. And who is to say that the meaning you might derive from one job over another would be similarly felt by someone else; say your daughter or son? How many mothers or fathers have hoped that their children would follow in their footsteps and have the same career as themselves, only to have their children choose other lines of work?

If you’re so inclined, you might realize too that people change. The job we found meaning in when we were 20 something might hold that meaning for 5 or so years, and then we suddenly realize one day that it’s been awhile since we really felt it as truly rewarding and meaningful. If this is the case, how do we go about finding a career in our late teens and early 20’s that we’ll find genuinely meaningful for the next 45 or 50 years?

Well, don’t fret about it. First of all it’s highly probable and natural that as you become exposed to different jobs and careers over the course of your life, you’ll find some of those jobs intriguing; perhaps enough to go after them. Changing jobs within our field is something many of us do, changing our field of interest entirely is also something not all that uncommon. It’s called evolution; becoming exposed to something new, finding real interest in it, doing what it takes to qualify yourself and working a plan to one day be in that new role.

Yet, while it’s natural then for many to want to do work that they find meaning in, is there anything wrong with doing work that one doesn’t find meaningful? Do you know anyone who when asked why they do what they do replies, “It’s a pay cheque”? I mean there has to be a number of people who are doing jobs quite competently; but for whom the concept of doing meaningful work isn’t important. And because we are all so very different on this planet, it’s impossible to take a career – any career – as an example of a job that no one finds meaning in.

You might think a Cashier, a Waiter/Waitress, Server etc. might not find any meaning in the work they do; that it’s got to be just a job until a career comes along. You’d be wrong though. There are obviously more people than you’d guess who do find great meaning in these jobs, and what’s more, their not deluding themselves; they see themselves as providing a service to others. Further, they wouldn’t want it any other way. Maybe they could make more income doing other things, but perhaps they don’t take home excessive worries and stresses that go with some jobs you’d tout as more meaningful.

Whose perspective are we talking about here anyhow? Yours or theirs? Projecting our own ideals and values onto others, saying that one job is more meaningful than another is something we should be careful of. When we tell our son or daughter that a Teacher’s job is meaningful; more meaningful than say a Crossing Guards, we transfer our own value system. If they go on to be a Teacher we’re happy. If however, they happily become a Crossing Guard and find meaning and happiness in that role, have we now sent that message that somehow their choice of career is a disappointment to us? Is that what we want or intended to do?

Conversely, if they get ulcers and migraines – growing old before their time – fighting with and climbing over others on the way to some career which robs them of much of their personal time; missing family occasions because of work, will we find it okay to console ourselves by saying, “but the work is meaningful and important.”

Important… maybe that’s it. Could it be that when we say find work that’s meaningful, what we’re really doing is saying, find work that’s important, and then by association you’ll be important too? If that’s the case, what message are we sending if the work isn’t important in our eyes? Do we really mean that they are only important if what they do is important?

So what’s the goal? Find work that is meaningful and if so to whom? Happiness? Sufficient income? Security? Challenge and reward? There are a lot of different values we could and do place on jobs and the people who do them. Something to think about.