NO Job, ANY Job, or the PERFECT Job?

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

For as long as I have worked in the field of career development and vocational rehabilitation, and arguably for much longer, there has been a great debate about whether or not it is better to take ANY job, or to take NO job while waiting for the PERFECT job. There are as many perspectives as there are scenarios when it comes to this topic.

I often hear, and have said myself, that it is easier to find a job when you have a job and that having “a” job is better than having “no” job. There is certainly some truth to those statements. When you are working you are able to demonstrate your skills, abilities, and talents to your colleagues, your customers, and your vendors / suppliers. Even volunteer positions, job shadows, work trials, on the job training opportunities, co-op programs, internships, and courses provide opportunities for others to see you in action. When you are not working, and looking for work, you only have your references to rely on. The longer you are away from the workforce the more challenging it can be to maintain current references.

If you aren’t engaged in world of work activities gaps on resumes can be a significant red flag for potential employers. Employer concerns include outdated training and certifications, rusty work place skills, employability challenges, etc; this of course presumes that while you have been away from work you have been doing absolutely nothing with your time. A number of years ago, during the height of the BSE crisis, I was fortunate to work with a group of women who were returning to ‘traditional work’ after having spent much of their lives working on their family farm. Many of the women identified themselves as ‘farm wives’ and reported that they had ‘no skills’. Having ‘no skills’ could not have been further from the truth; they were expert time managers, bookkeepers, analyzers, event planners, budgeters, caretakers, equipment operators, gardeners, troubleshooters, and much more. It was true that they had not held ‘traditional jobs’ for a long time, some of them ever, but they certainly had a lot to offer a potential employer. Because of the situation they and their families were in as a result of the BSE crisis they were looking for ANY job. They were in a dire situation. Of course it was important to support them in finding a position that took into consideration interests, strengths, and schedule needs but these highly motivated and dedicated women were looking for work and were eager to find a job that would help them to support their families.

I have also had the experience of working with individuals who were not working and were not prepared to go to work until they found the PERFECT job. For some of them their situation afforded them that opportunity in that they had another source of income but for most individuals that was not the case. A young man once told me that he would rather starve than work at a job that wasn’t exactly what he wanted. I have had some pretty awesome jobs in my career but I can assure you that amongst all of the awesome jobs were some less than awesome jobs. Even my favorite jobs had components that I would have happily done without. It is a valuable activity to define your own perfect job. You may find it, you may not. It might be immediately available and attainable, it may not. Creating your perfect job may take time, resources, and energy. You may be willing to put the time, resources, and energy into creating your perfect job, you may not. What are YOU prepared to do to find or create your PERFECT job?

Whether you are looking for ANY job or the PERFECT job it is important to identify your “must haves” and your “walk aways” and to be clear about what you bring to the position. Target your resume to every position you apply for and be sure to engage your network to support and assist you. Looking for work takes effort and requires a positive attitude and persistence. Being successful at work takes effort as well. Even if the job you are in isn’t your ideal job putting in your best effort and finding joy in your job will go along to getting you closer to your perfect job.

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it." ~ Steve Jobs

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