The Job Hunter
By Rabbi Mordechai Kruger
I have said it before in this column, and it cannot be emphasized enough: the most important step in a job hunt is to carefully define the job you are looking for. You should be looking for the job that you most want to do—maximizing your skills, talents, and experience to provide the most value for your employer.
This simple formula is really anything but simple. Read it again, carefully, and you will see that it has three separate components: (1) define the job; (2) identify the tools you have to do it; and (3) explain how it provides value for the employer. Each of these requires the job hunter to do some serious thinking, very often some research, and possibly some work with a professional coach or counselor. So the next few columns will talk about this process.
What is the job you most want to do? Some years back there was quite a movement that promoted this as the key to career success. “Do what you love and the money will follow” and similar self-fulfillment blather became the worker’s mantra. This idea isn’t completely wrong, and as a response to a world of organization men in gray flannel suits, affirming the value of individuals and their unique contributions was a major step in the right direction. It just has to be part of the total picture. So with that in mind, how do you decide what you most want to do?
The best resource for answering this question is—no surprise if you’ve been reading this column—What Color Is Your Parachute? (as always, use the latest updated edition). Parachute will guide you in considering your values, the environment where you work the best, your goals, and your dreams. You will learn how to place these considerations in the “big picture” of the job that would be best for you. And that’s the job you should be looking for.
A lot of people have a different idea about this. They tell me, “The best job for me is the one I can get, and the only goal that matters is bringing home a paycheck.” From their point of view, it’s normal to ask a small child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But when he grows up he’s supposed to know better and do whatever work comes along.
Why do I insist that this “goals and dreams” thing is so important? Besides, doesn’t everyone have the same goal at work? (Hint: $$)
In a world where most of the work emphasized brawn, and even the brain-workers mostly performed according to clear rules, there wasn’t much room for a personal connection, much less for true creativity and vision. But the workplace has changed. Today’s work gets done by connecting people to enormously powerful technological tools. Today’s success depends on the ability of each individual to use those tools to produce something unique. Only the worker who matches what he does with who he is will be able to fully apply himself, to create real value for his employer.
This “getting clear” on your values, your goals, your dreams? It’s not feel-good, self-centered fluff. It’s much closer to that tough football coach who calls the team together and says, “Give it all you’ve got!” In today’s tough, demanding world of work, “all you’ve got” includes more than we ever imagined. It means everything that makes you truly unique. v
Rabbi Mordechai Kruger is the founder and director of Pathways to Parnassa, an organization providing job-search and career coaching to our community. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.