Should You Take The Job?

Ask yourself this first

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Work is important. We need to work but how desperately do we need the job. While job searching recently I found myself looking for jobs that I thought would be great but for the wrong reasons.

A persistent thought I had when I found a ‘suitable’ job opening, was:

Imagine when I tell x,y,z…where I work.

I am embarrassed to admit those were the thoughts going through my head. I wasn’t really looking at the type of work I would be doing, only the fancy title or potential title I may one day achieve in the company. I daydreamed about telling people I worked at …. and then seeing their faces widen with admiration and respect.

But suddenly I woke up.

What was I thinking? I shouldn’t be looking for a job just to tell other people about it. That’s madness. I should look for a job at a company that would suit my skills and brings me genuine satisfaction, regardless of the job title I would one day put on LinkedIn.

So I quickly devised a simple mental scheme and decided to ask myself the following the question while job seraching:

Would I take this job if I couldn’t tell anyone about it?

If I couldn’t tell a soul where I worked, what my salary was, what my position was, or where I was likely to be heading in the company would I still want the job?

I couldn’t tell anyone, except my significant other, but friends, family, and former colleagues would be barred from hearing the details of my job. No one would know of my fancy title or fat paycheck. I couldn’t even say, ‘the money is good.’

Would I still take the job?

If my answer was no, then it was a good indication the job was wrong. Impressing others should never be a job search criteria.

I work in a field dominated by fancy titles and prestige; the law. Lawyers love to brag and display their “senior associate” label on LinkedIn. But most of the lawyers I have encountered in my short career are unhappy. They are miserable. They complain about working longs hours and are generally angry and irritable most of the day. In my short career of four years, I have met only one lawyer who said he loved his job.

One.

Law school was overburned when I graduated. There were not enough jobs for all the students that graduated. It took me a year of searching post-graduation to find a position at a law firm.

Why do people study law?

It's not because they have a genuine desire for justice and care about upholding human rights and the Constitution.

It's because they care about money and prestige. Two things most people believe a career in law will bring you. Some lawyers are corrupt. They steal money from their clients and instead of upholding the law, they seek ways to cut corners or make deals that avoid complying with it.

Not all lawyers are like this but there are a lot. Too many for a profession that should be following the law and advising others how to do it correctly too.

Legal advice is a privilege for those with money. And lawyers use their so-called ‘prestige’ to bill clients exorbitant sums.

Prestige cannot bring you happiness. I have seen it with my own eyes. And lawyers are not more important because they practise law. They just like to think they are.

A title won’t make you happy. A fancy LinkedIn profile will not bring you comfort when having terrible day after terrible day at work. Prestige and impressing people are the wrong motivations to find a job.

When you dread going to work every day and feel a sense of misery descending when you think about entering the office, all the money and prestige in the world cannot make up for that.

I want a simple career. Enough time to spend doing the things I love. I want to do fulfilling work I find stimulating but not overbearing. I don’t want a job that people will raise their eyebrows at.

In the end…

Decent work is not about a fancy title. The people that are happiest in their careers love the work they do. The people that aren’t happy boast about their fancy titles because they hope a fancy title will make up for the lack of fulfillment they find in their work. But it doesn’t and it never will.

I am a Lawyer, Writer, Reader and Traveller. From Johannesburg, South Africa. I am writing to find my voice. Fortune favours the brave.

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