"The Dignity of Work"

27 September 2013

We recruiters sometimes come across candidates who make unfortunate decisions that can impact career development for many years.  Sometimes even derail a career.  We all make mistakes, of course, and our goal should be to learn from them.  But what about trying to avoid them?

Wouldn’t it be better to avoid whenever possible making career-damaging mistakes in the first place?  To speak with people who have been around longer than you?  Or who have more experience?  Who've probably seen (or perhaps even been through) what you're going through?  We think so.  And that’s why the following statement caught our eye:

"I believe that opportunity looks a lot like work.  When I was 13 I had my first job with Dad carrying shingles to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust of the ground.  And I never had a job in my life that I was better than.  I was always just lucky to have a job.  And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job.  And so opportunities look a lot like work."

–  Ashton Kutcher

I am not a fan of Kutcher’s on-screen work (generational differences, I suppose), but I am impressed by this statement made at an impromptu motivational talk to a young audience at the "Teen Choice Awards" recently.  As they say, "Who knew?!?"

If you are feeling frustrated in your current job, avoid the temptation to act precipitously because chances are very good that you will come to regret any impulsive decisions.

Two of Kutcher’s observations seem to be particularly spot-on.

"I never had a job in my life that I was better than."

Every now and again we meet a candidate who thinks that his job is beneath him.  That he is better and smarter than everyone else around him.  That no one else recognizes just how brilliant and wonderful he is.  That he is underappreciated.  That he is underpaid.

All of which may be true, but none of which is particularly relevant.  Frankly, sentiments such as these demonstrate more than anything else a negative attitude that permeates and poisons everything he does and everyone around him.  If he is really as good and talented as he thinks, he will be recognized for it; if such recognition is not forthcoming, perhaps he should look in the mirror rather than look for shortcomings in those around him.

Sometimes a bit of hard introspection – as painful as that may be – can be a good thing.

"I never quit my job until I had my next job."

It does occasionally happen that job frustrations boil over to the point that you just cannot take another day.  So you quit, thinking that it will be easy to line up something new.  You're smart!  You're ambitious!  You have some great experience!  Twelve months later, nothing has happened, except that you have become, for all intents and purposes, unemployable in an already soft market.

No matter how bad things may be, nothing is as bad as long-term, chronic unemployment.  Not only is it demoralizing, it's absolutely debilitating.

If you're unhappy where you are, look around to see what options there may be, but never, ever leave your current job until you have something else lined up.

Of course there are times when the decision to leave may not be up to you alone, but that topic is the subject of a future blog post.

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