Human Sustainability

I have a friend who is looking for a job. Yawn – so are a lot of people. What complicates things for her is that she had a sudden realization that she isn’t as bulletproof as she once thought she was. Her feelings about insurance went from not caring whether she had it (which she didn’t) or not to being afraid to move for fear of needing a doctor. Needless to say, her desire (and need) for healthcare coverage of any kind has suddenly become more acute.

In talking to her about her current search for jobs, she reiterated that she was doing the best she could to find a job she was interested in. When I asked her on the phone about taking a crappy job that would pay the bills AND give her health insurance, she responded, “Well, I don’t think I’m that desperate yet”. My response to her was a sobering, “Well, for what you consider ‘desperate’, do you really want to get there before you HAVE find a job to pay you and give you benefits?” I got silence from the other end of the line for a second before, “Yeah, I didn’t really think about it that way”.

Taking a job does not mean that you’ve settled down and are forever stuck with the decision that you’ve made. You can change your mind – and let’s be honest, it’s human nature to do so. Think about it this way: let’s say you shopped around until you found someone you wanted to go out with, but when you had dinner together, you found out that your choice was not the perfect specimen you originally anticipated, but was, in fact, a big ol’ loser. Do you say to yourself, “Well, it took me a while to make my choice, so I guess I’ll just stick with it and hope it gets better” or do you find yourself a new date and shrug off the memory of your poor decision-making skills? Rhetorical question, I’m sure. So why, then, is a job any different?

Sometimes, you’ve got to do what pays the bills, even if it sucks, while continuing to look for what you actually want. Before you jump down my throat, often times (especially now), finding “what pays the bills” is (much) easier said than done, and while I’m not brushing that aside, that’s not my point. I’m saying that it’s worth devoting at least part of your energy to entering the workforce in any capacity rather than focusing all of your attention on the single job that you’re interested in. It’s not that you’re selling out by putting your plans on hold; instead, realize that you’re keeping yourself going (I almost said “keeping yourself alive”, but figured that was awfully dramatic, even by my standards) by finding something that will not only provide you with money (kind of important in today’s society), but will always provide you with medical care (by way of insurance) should you need it. It’s all about sustainability here.

I read an article by HR Minion earlier that dealt with this issue for people that have taken jobs and have  “fallen into the employment trap“: they’ve ended their job search, lost track of their networks or stopped learning just because they’ve found any old opportunity. No! Don’t do that! If you’re pretty happy, just seeing what’s out there might just make you realize why you’re in no desire to leave. And if you’re not, keeping your options open and knowing that there’s something else out there for you to find may just be what keeps you going throughout the day.

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2 responses to “Human Sustainability

  1. For many of us, the problem isn’t feeling desperate enough to take ‘any old job’, it is convincing a potential employer that despite a master’s degree in architecture and 15 years’ experience, we do, in fact, have a burning desire to be an administrative assistant (or whatever).

    It doesn’t matter how good of an actor you are, no hiring manager is going to believe that. They KNOW you are only going to be there until you find something better.

    And with 16 million people looking for work, you can guarantee that hiring manager has at least one resume on their desk of someone who has many years of experience as an admin assistant and will most likely stick around in the job for a long time. Why would they hire you instead?

    I know of no one looking for work who hasn’t sent their resume to at least a half-dozen temp and secretarial agencies, and they all say the same thing: we are BURIED in resumes and we don’t need another one!

    And I know of no one who as gotten ‘just any job’ unless they had a connection–a friend usually, who was willing to hire them knowing that the situation was really temporary.

    Sorry to criticize, your blog is really interesting. But the ‘just any job’ comment is very cavalier and doesn’t seem to appreciate the reality of the job market. I challenge you to quit your job and go out and try to find ‘anything’! I bet you wouldn’t be singing the same tune after six months of pounding the pavement.

  2. @Not Telling – I know it’s hard out there and I’m not undermining that, but that was really wasn’t my point. If you’re doing everything you can to find something anything, then I admire that and recognize that and appreciate how you feel. Personally, I feel frustrated when people tell me that they’re NOT doing that, that they’re only focusing on the big picture and their overarching dreams without considering other possibilities that will enable them to get there.

    I know of multiple people that have gotten lame jobs. My situation is very different because I can really only speak to people that are relatively recent graduates (and I’ve been pretty clear that that’s who I’m talking about when I refer to people I know). It’s a lot different when you have the specialized experience that you do. I will come up with a response to your situation…might make a post out of it.

    Don’t apologize for the criticism. How else am I going to get feedback? I’d much rather the discussion than a “Oh, you’re so great” because that’s pretty damn boring – thanks for qualifying it though.

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