The Complications of Employment

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“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendall Holmes

Realistically speaking, looking for a job should not be complicated. In order for society to succeed, it would only make sense that everyone should be able to find decent paying work. Unfortunately, far too often the work available (I’m looking at you service industry) doesn’t even pay enough to allow someone to pay the bills required to live in the area the job is located, let alone have extra money for savings and bit of entertainment from time-to-time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t have to work to get ahead in life, I just think anyone who puts in 60+ hours of work or gets the requisite education should not need to spend years of their life worrying about how to pay the next bill or whether they’ll ever find employment in the field of their choice. And this complicated job market isn’t just bad for the individual, it is bad for society as a whole.

Take the millennial generation for example. We grew up being told a college education was the key to a successful career, but thanks to an economic crash coupled with more efficient work procedures, there are fewer jobs available than in previous years. Not only do you have a crop of individuals who are struggling to find work, but many of them are starting out at a financial disadvantage that averages around $25,000. How is that good for the economy? How can this generation of workers be expected to take any of the innovative risks necessary to address the challenges of the coming years when they are forced to spend a vast amount of their mental capacity just finding a way to break into a job market that expects more productivity for less pay? Unless we find a solution to this problem, we’re going to end up with a generation of individuals who choose to play it safe, rather than make the big leaps forward necessary for a brighter future.

Then of course there are those, who simply can’t afford the higher education to even compete in the tight job market. These are individuals who work lower-skilled (albeit just as necessary) jobs for wages too low to live on. If someone puts in 60-hours a week at Taco Bell, why shouldn’t they make enough money to pay their bills and still have some left over to save for their future? Instead, by not having higher pay for lower-skilled workers we create a gap that will never be bridged, making it not only difficult for this group to survive, but for their children to have the opportunities to climb the ladder of success. Is there are simple solution to this issue? Probably not, but in the meantime we must find ways to raise the minimum standard for income in this country and around the world.

Say you’re one of the luck ones. You have a successful job and make an ample amount of money. How is this complicated job conundrum bad for you? Well, there’s the idea that a well-educated, employed population makes for safer society. More people making money, mean more tax revenue at the local, state, and federal level, which can they be used to improve everything from infrastructure to security. Furthermore, there’s a moral imperative here. Is it right to allow society to continue to drift apart financially? So much so that the wage of the lower earners becomes further separate from the top earners, even while the economy improves. We owe it to future generations to find a way to maintain not just our personal financial security, but that of the country and world as a whole. No one should have to go to bed worried about how they are going to pay this month’s rent, or find a job that pays enough to do so. As former U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone once said, “we all do better when we all do better.”

Ultimately, finding a job that pays enough to survive falls on the individual. We need to be proactive in gaining the necessary skills. However, that does not mean the governments and corporations of society can’t do better to makes things a bit easier for those not born into immense talent or wealth. We ought to find a way to employ those of all skill levels. Furthermore, the job search should not be so difficult or hard to break into. Practices like, rejecting applicants because they’ve been unemployed for 6 months or more need to stop. We also need to be balance out the proportion of executive to employee pay a little bit. In the long run it’ll be better for everyone, and give future generations something to look forward to.

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Door Number One: A Career that Inspires

” Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” ~Buddha

Its been awhile since I introduced the grand concept of the 50 doors. The idea that the key to happiness lies in fulfilling a number of unique, but equally important needs. Rather than allow this idea to be regulated to the hall of blog posts past, I will be exploring these doors, and delving deeper in why they are important and what one should consider one they step through threshold.

As most of us probably spend a disproportionate amount of time in our lives working towards a career we might as well start there. As necessary as being employed is to our existence, it not only makes sense that work should be a main focus in our lives, but that we should constantly be striving to find the job that give us the most satisfaction. Since we are still a couple of years away from the development of the Lightsaber and the rise of Jedi Knight as a credible profession it may not always be clear what we should be doing to get the most out of this facet of our lives. Fortunately, there are a number of steps one can take to help make the process easier.

Pursue some type of post secondary education. While there are many who would question whether we should all attend college, I would argue this is the most important step one can take in better understanding the career they should pursue. This does not mean we all need to immediately go out and take on massive loads of debt in order to stumble through a college program, hoping we will one day find what it is we should spend our lives doing. However, simple steps like taking a course at a community college, or doing some internet research on available college and job training programs may be just what we need to light the spark of inspiration that allows us to find our way out of the doldrums of job uncertainty.

Take an inventory of what hobbies and activities in your life that are most satisfying. Like to fix things around the house? Maybe looking into become a mechanic or an engineer. Really enjoy writing? There are multiple professions in need of a competent, passionate writer. Like to spend a lot of time in the woods? Maybe look into the wildlife and resource management field. The point is, sometimes the key to success in our working lives lies in finding a way to get paid for doing something we would gladly do for free. While this does not always work, (I’m still waiting on that professional nap taker job opening) at least considering the many things we do in our lives when we are not at work and how they could be turned into a career is a good step towards finding the job that will inspire us to get out of bed each morning.

Volunteer for things that pique your interest. Sometimes the best thing we can do, when we’re not certain the direction our professional life should take is to find volunteer opportunities with causes and issues we believe in. It not only allows us to get a taste for the type of work done in these areas, but enables one to gauge their interest in particular areas without committing no more than the time we are willing to donate. Furthermore, if we decide we would like a career working with a particular cause or issue, volunteering gives us an inside track to learning where the jobs are and who is best to contact as we move forward. At the very least it provides a couple of good experiences for a resume.

A good education, pursuing what we love, and testing the waters via volunteering are excellent stepping-stones to landing a dream career. Once we determine what it is we want to do with our lives, its important to take whatever steps necessary to make the possibility a reality. Also, it is never too late to make a course correction. While it may make life more difficult to change things up, remaining at an undesired job can have ramifications for every element of one’s life. In either case, whether it be beginning that first career or changing course midstream the most important thing one can do is taking that first step.