Wanted For Immediate Employerment: Somewhere That Fuels Passion

I hate when people say that school — be that high school, college, or some other form of education — doesn’t prepare you for the real world. Categorically, the statement is false. Education teaches us many skills even beyond those we learn in the classroom, such as critical thinking, interpersonal communication, honesty, and compassion1At the very least, if you’re taking school even a little seriously, you get some of this out of school..

That said, there is some validity to the statement. There are a handful of things that schools don’t do a particularly good job of preparing students for the non-school world on. As a rule of thumb, these items are money-driven items that American society puts low value on, yet are critical to being a successful adult. In my estimation, that list includes, but is not limited to, the following items.

  • Money management/balancing a checkbook
  • Interviewing
  • Job searching
  • Not being a jerk to people on the internet
  • Developing relationships with people you don’t see in person (think telecommuters or companies that have many interconnected offices globally)

I want to use today’s post to talk about the third item on that list. Hunting for a job is a surprisingly stressful part of adult life. With the explosion of technology over the last decade and a half, the way employees look for a job, as well as the way companies search for potential employees, has changed drastically.

The way I got my first job was pretty much the same way my dad and my grandfather got their first jobs. I walked into the pizza shop down the road from my house, asked if they were hiring, filled out an application, interviewed, and got hired. With no experience and minimal in terms of marketable skills, I managed to land my first job at the age of 14 the same way people I knew had done so in the 1970s and 1950s. I had a similarly easy experience looking for my next two jobs. I got a job in my college dorm at age 18 and a job as a cook in a restaurant at age 20 via the exact same method.

To be clear, all three of those situations came before the era of Indeed, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and other job boards dominating the job hunting market. But I was still proud of getting them. I really didn’t care what I was doing at the time. I was happy to be able to have money to pay bills. I wasn’t about to let myself end up in a situation where I couldn’t support myself2Or others in my life in the future, which was, stunningly, a thought on my mind at age 14..

It’s been about 16 years since I got my first job. The job searching experience has grossly changed since then. While you could (I’m certain) still walk into some businesses and try to get a job the same way I did when I was 14, the more practical and prudent thing to do is to review online job boards or company websites to look for jobs. This isn’t necessarily a bad change. A major advantage to the job board culture is the ability for job seekers to be exposed to companies and jobs they would never have otherwise heard of without that technology.

There are, however, a couple of major problems with the job board culture. For whatever reason, most companies don’t put salary or salary ranges on job postings online. I can’t imagine what the companies are trying to avoid by doing that3Wage discrimination lawsuits. It’s wage discrimination lawsuits.. This has slowed down my own personal job search drastically, as many companies write their job descriptions for people that have more experience than what they’re actually looking for. Which is fine. You’re not going to get the perfect candidate more often than not, so aim high so that you still get the things you need if you fall short. But it’s incredibly disheartening as a job seeker to get into the interviewing process only to find out that a job requiring 3-5 of job-field experience only pays entry level salary4For non-US readers, in the US, it is often considered unprofessional to ask about salary for a job prior to the offer letter stage. I learned this the hard way a couple of years ago when a company told me they wouldn’t be continuing the interview process because I asked about salary during the HR screening..

The second, and arguably more important thing, missing from most job board postings is why the job matters. I realize that having a passion for what you do isn’t a draw to a job for some people. As an interviewer, I’ve had people tell me that they’re looking for a job for a paycheck and nothing more. And that’s fine. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I also recognize that people have their own motivations and needs. What’s important to the person sitting across the table from me in an interview, regardless of which side of the interview I’m on, is not necessarily the same thing that’s important to me.

That very fact also makes job searching incredibly difficult. As a job seeker, you can’t just go to a job posting and figure out if most positions are going to make you feel good about what you do purely from reading the job description. Granted, some positions make it completely obvious whether or not you’re doing the right thing at the job you’re applying for. But in most situations, it’ll require more research to determine if the company you’re considering applying to is ethical, responsible, charitable, or whatever you’re looking for in an employer. You should be researching companies you’re considering working for anyway. It’s the responsible thing to do as a job seeker. But to not see those factors in a job posting makes the job seeker’s path much harder5Nevermind the fact that job postings are still a bit of marketing from a company. They want to put their best foot forward to attract the best talent possible. If this means not mentioning your company’s flaws, that’s not misleading, that’s responsible marketing. Remember rule #2 of this blog: Everything is marketing..

So how do you, as a job seeker, find a job that fulfills your passion? I really wish I had a good answer to give, especially after making you read 1000 words already before getting to that question6Let’s be real though. If you’re still reading at this point, you like long-form reads. I don’t do non-long-form pieces, at least not generally.. I’m going through my own job search now — and have been for a few months now — and I’ve yet to find a job that screams ‘You will care about this’ to me. Of course, by the time this posts, that could change7I tend to write my posts 3-6 weeks in advance, as I only (usually) have one post go up a week. So I’m writing this in mid-October.. But as of when I’m writing it, not so much.

I want to care about what I do. I want to feel like what I do has a positive impact on people — be it those I work with directly or those that my company works with directly. I want the company I work for to be transparent and honest about its directives and actions, as well as its purpose. That’s not to say previous or current companies I’ve worked for have or haven’t done this. That said, I do know what I want in the future. And it’s hard to find. Especially since there’s no job board for employees seeking work with purpose.

The Job Jumping Dilemma

Note: The following post is a guest post written by a gentleman named Mike. Please enjoy Mike’s post below.

Throughout high school, we were promised that going to college would get us a good job. That we shouldn’t worry about student loans, as our job will allow us to pay those back quickly. That by going to school, we were making something of ourselves, and would excel in life. Are we REALLY sure that any of that is true?

I sit here myself only one year removed from graduation, yet like many people in my position, I feel helpless. I have student loan debt, with the need to repay it. More than that, I know it’s the right thing to do, and while it’s never easy, it’s something that must be done. However, the opportunities our elders promised us seem to be few and far between. We sit here, tucked away in our cubicles in the corner, still faced with the problem of being “the new guy” and feeling like it’s impossible to get ahead.

For many of us, we had to take the first job offer presented to us after graduating. It felt like an impossible challenge, to step away from campus and the college life style, and into the real world where real expectations and real problems exist. No longer was our hardest choice which bars to hit up, which cheap beer to drink this weekend, which flavor of Ramen noodles to eat. Our choices now impact real people and real lives, and often come with bullshit TPS reports and printers that say paper jam when there is no paper jam.

When those jobs get tiring, exhausting, depressing, and mentally draining, what are we supposed to do then? Do we risk looking like job jumpers, as we yearn for a new opportunity? What if we make the wrong choice and end up in the wrong field? What if we’re already in the wrong field?

You see, for me, this is a choice I’ve been struggling with lately. I know that I’m not alone, and also recognize the weight a decision like this could carry. For some of us, we were forced to sign contracts that ran up to a few years. Once those contracts near the end, and there’s no guarantee of tomorrow, we are put in an awkward position both personally and professionally.

For those of us who hate what we do, it can become draining on all aspects of life. Work depression can trickle over into our personal lives, affecting our relationships with our partners, friends and parents. The mental toll on those stuck in cubicles in front of a computer screen for 8 to 9 hours a day becomes increasingly difficult. The constant wondering about what other jobs and careers are out there becomes a pounding drum of war in our heads. We dream to move forward, to make a difference, to get that promotion or that raise. We feel like our jobs are literally holding us back from our future.

That’s why I’m here to say, stop it. This message goes out to not only me, my friends, but to all of those in my generation, and in my position. Worrying will only do so much for our situation, until we take the leap of faith and follow our dreams. Who cares if you have multiple jobs on your resume in just the last few years? Competent employers would see a student who was trying to get ahead in school. Employers who scoff at it are likely terrible companies whose work environment would crush your soul even harder. So take that risk. Apply for that job. Change careers if you want. Ultimately, do what makes you happy, and as long as you’re not harming anyone, don’t regret it. It’s become pretty clear from any news story about government and business for the last..decade or so that these people are out for their interests only. So screw them, it’s time to look out for our interests too. Maybe one of us will be the next major CEO, board member, or president of a company. Maybe one of us will be the Governor or Senator that shakes the whole system up. None of us will ever find that out unless we go and do it.