How to find the job you love

posted by Russ, February 26 in lifestyle design with tags , , , , ,


Disclaimer: I should preface this article by saying that I do not currently have the job I love. This is really an article based on my thoughts, and one that can hopefully one day help me.

The situation

The situation I seem to perpetually be in is one where my job is tolerable and pays decently with decent benefits, however I know that it is not the right place for me to be. In today’s economy, conventional wisdom seems to say you should stick with something that is decent, however I don’t necessarily agree with that. Sure, people are out of work and some would do anything for a job, but does that mean I have to tolerate something I don’t enjoy? I’m not talking about walking out on a job, I’m just talking about actively pursuing something better. What inevitably happens with me is that I look for months and months at job listings, but I know that all would simply be lateral moves, just a band aid so to speak. And again, conventional wisdom says a job is a job, but quite honestly in my opinion conventional wisdom has never made people truly happy, it’s the out of the box thinking that seems to reap the rewards. So what I want is to push my limits and find the “right” job rather than just another job that will fizzle after a year or so.

My predicament
By training I am a software engineer. I truly do not mind doing this work. What I mind is the mindset that seems to come along with most typical corporate environments. The need to keep producing and work more hours, without a concern of management for employees’ personal lives. From my experience, most places that are corporate seem to expect that everyone should want to work as much as possible, to suck every last ounce of productivity out of their days. And if they are really productive, they simply get more work rather than a pat on the back for a job well done and some time off. And when it comes to time off, though I am lucky to get a generous four weeks, I also am sort of forced to implicitly think that this is enough, that most people get less thus I am lucky. And when I use it, rather than a “enjoy your time off, you deserve it”, I get the wiseass comments like “Who approved this?” or am made to feel like I am getting more than I should. What it must be like to work somewhere where management treat everyone fairly and actually care about your personal life! On top of this, it seems that corporate environments seem to breed negativity, something of which I am guilty of participating in more than I care to admit. I have had two co-workers leave the company, one to attempt to start a coffee cart, and another to open a pet business, and both were not sent off with well wishes, but were chastised behind their back for doing so.

So what do you/I want?

Most people seem to accept the status quo, and that if things are decent that is as good as they can or will get. So as in my situation, many people say that I should be lucky or thankful to have what I have (which I truly am), but at the same time I don’t think just because everyone else accepts something as a “success” that I should have to feel the same way. Sure, things could be a lot worse, I could have bad co-workers, worse bosses, less vacation, a more rigid schedule with longer hours, the list goes on, but does this excempt me from having my own lofty goals or ambitions? Just because everyone else accepts certains things doesn’t mean we all have to. Certain lives work for certain people, but not everyone sees things the same way. Because most people barely even get paid time off does that mean I should start believing that two weeks is great? No, I still firmly belive that everyone should get 4 to 6 weeks paid time off.

So what do I want? Quite simply, I want to work somewhere that I can apply my specific skill set to help make the world a better place. Sitting in a cubilce writing code for Company X doesn’t feed that criteria. A company or organization that can harness my skills and directly apply them to making the world a better place. And to surround myself with people who feel the same thing and care about work and life, and not just work. People who can share in life outside of work as friends and who can separate the need to work with the need to enjoy life, and who can inspire you to be a better person, and not just a better worker.

Where to look?

So we have now reached the point where I don’t have any answers. The run of the mill job boards like Montster and Career Builder seem to be corporate breeding grounds, looking for more drones. Craigslist seems to be a bit better for interesting opportunities, but Craigslist is also notorious for surfacing people who are flakes. I don’t know if that extends into the job postings as well, but I can say for sure there are always a lot of start up opportunities on there, which typically don’t pay. So for this question, I don’t have a good answer for where to look for your perfect job. I suppose it depends what you are looking for. I am starting to really believe that I can look and look and will never find my perfect job, I think one day it will find me. Good old networking probably is the best way to find the perfect job.

Is it possible in today’s economy?
I believe it is, yes. The economy may be bad and people may be getting laid off, but if you are a self starter the claim is that economic down times can be one of the best times to start a new enterprise. You just have to know where to look for your niche. And regardless, even though times are bad when I browse the help wanted sections there are plenty of opportunities.

What do you think?
Share your thoughts. Where are the best places to look for extraordinary jobs? Are those jobs still out there right now? Are good employees staying put?

Originally posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2009 at 10:28 PM .

3 Responses to “How to find the job you love”

  1. Grace says:

    There is a lot of truth and wisdom in your post. I find myself in a position that is scarily similar to yours, right down to getting hassled anytime I wish to use the vacation time alloted to me. I’m unhappy, but the economy (and fear!) has firmly rooted me in this situation that I know is not best for me.

    I’m always keeping an eye out though for opportunities. Monster and craigslist have proven to be pretty fruitless efforts to me. Have you tried idealist.org by any chance?

    I am not (and have never really been) truly at ease with networking, but that seems to be the most successful way to find a job… so I’m doing my best to break out of my shell in that respect.

    Your optimism is inspiring. I wish you the best of luck!

  2. Russ says:

    Grace, thank you for the support. As with you, Monster and CL have been sort of dead ends. I feel like Monster will actually move me backwards (not monetarily, but in happiness) and CL pretty much seems flaky these days. I am on Idealist, however most of what I see are volunteer opportunities, and when there are jobs the pay is so ridiculously low that it is barely a livable wage here in San Diego. I am not in it for the money, but when the money becomes so low that I lose my freedom that is nearly just as bad. And I agree with networking. I don’t have a huge network of friends, and networking solely for a job seems artificial. I truly think what needs to happen is for me to get motivated and make new friends who support me and will expose me to new opportunities. But I will say it is good to know that there are people like you and I out there who want more. Just knowing that really helps me.

  3. Insightful and helpful post for these economic times. Happiness eally is doing what you love, on your own terms.

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