I am looking for a job. I’ve also been thinking about what it means to be a good person and live a good life.
Many job descriptions seem divorced from reality. They seek an employee who is both a great leader and a great follower. They want someone who is detail oriented and sees the big picture, with superb people skills and up-to-the-minute technological expertise; a highly-organized, serious person with a great sense of humor and loads of creative talent. They want a self-starter who needs no supervision and a team player who always follows directions. They want a well-balanced family sort with lots of friends and wholesome outside interests who will work day and night, year round, to complete assignments on time.
Many listings portray the work environment as “fun,” but they also describe it as “high paced,” which I take to mean you had better be a manic workaholic (or at least be able to fake it) who can laugh on cue. And of course you must be highly motivated, which makes sense, because I don’t see why anyone would want to hire an unmotivated person—or, for that matter, what an unmotivated person is doing looking for work.
Responding to these job listings and trying to make myself attractive to people I haven’t met, I find myself longing—aching, really—for real dialogue. And rather than bragging about how great I am and everything I can do for the organization, I’d like to talk to flesh and blood people about how we can work together to make the world a better place.
Working together with others to improve this world is, to me, a good job. It’s really that simple. I have lots of skills and interests, and I am sure I’ll continue to develop new ones. I’ve been developing new skills and interests all my life, and I imagine the day I stop will be the day I stop—literally.
My passion is making the world a better place. I have children, nephews, nieces, family and friends around the globe: I want to know I tried to do something for them, and for their friends and family. I love this world, and when I leave it (or rather, become mulch again), I’d like to know I spent my time here well.
Of course, a person can improve the world outside of work, and I think I do. But I am a working stiff—I need a job. I need to make a reasonable amount of money and have health insurance.
There are for profit, non-profit, and governmental entities that improve the world, and there are for profit, non-profit, and governmental entities that are degrading the world. I want to work for the first kind. Making the world a better place is good work. That’s my passion.
My current job hunt reminds me of another time when I was looking for work and I started to read the world’s most famous job seeking guidebook, What Color is Your Parachute? This useful book corrects many of the common errors of jobseekers and asks the reader to determine what kind of work they want and where, shows the importance of networking online and in person, asks that they create a self-inventory, write essays answering the question “Who am I?” ten times, expand on those essays, make lists and charts and write letters and climb a mountain and play badminton with a gopher (not really). There is no end of exercises in What Color is Your Parachute? to help you discover and pursue your true path in life. Eventually I found the tough-love, super-helpful regimen of What Color is Your Parachute? to be so exhausting that I decided it would be easier to just go get a job. Which I did.
By now you may be thinking to yourself, “How does a person live a great life in one easy step, as you promised in your title, Mister Smartypants?”
Answer: Get a job, doing good work with good people.
“And how do I get that job?” you might ask in your follow-up question. Unfortunately, I am busy looking for a job and will not be taking any more questions.
Wish me luck.