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Opinion

The search for the 'perfect job'

The search for the 'perfect job'

Monday 05 April 2021

The search for the 'perfect job'


Many young people are on a mission to find the 'perfect job'. But does this job really exist? And how has the past year shaped the ways in which people approach job searching and the workplace?

'Balanced Business' columnist Emilia Summers shares her thoughts...

As young adults, we are constantly told find what it is you love doing, and you’ll never work a day in your life. Like a pot of gold that glimmers under the rainbow, the dream career is out there waiting for you, if you just keep up the search.

Is it therefore any wonder that the younger generation have become such notorious job-hoppers as they continue in their quest to find that perfect, fulfilling role that may or may not ever exist? In a world obsessed by perfection, we’ve made our lives just that little bit harder and more complicated by continuing the search for the Holy Grail of a role, forgetting that it's less about the destination and more about the journey. We constantly strive for bigger and better things and to find the ultimate dream – a job that is no work at all. Have we lost sight of what is important in our endless pursuit of perfection?

My parents are of the age where a job was ‘what you make of it,’ and make of it they did. They worked the same role for the whole of their lives, come good and bad, through ups and downs, and this was not a dissimilar position for most of their generation. A job was a means to an end, a part of life and if you happened to enjoy what you did, it was a welcome, albeit unusual, side effect and nothing more. Now as the times change, millennials are driven to work for purpose and not pay cheque, motivated by ethical values, always chasing the perfect work/life balance, and commanding respect from any company they work for. The prefect job is an almost unachievable career goal so why have we suddenly become obsessed with finding it?

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Pictured: Do young islanders have a different attitude towards their jobs than previous generations? 

If this last year has taught us anything it’s that life can change in the blink of an eye, including your goals and aspirations. What I long thought was my dream has changed dramatically. From an experience of working from home I now value security, flexibility and personal contact so much higher than I once did.

All those so pleased to have finally become self-employed were nervously waiting on the outcome of the pandemic, realising that being a one-man band is sometimes not all it’s cracked up to be, when times are particularly hard. And that’s the thing about jobs – it’s rare they are going to tick all of the boxes all of the time. Career and life will always be inextricably linked, and just as one changes, so must the other bend, making flexibility imperative to balancing the two.

I have always approached my career with the motto – ‘what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.’ The harder or more challenging something is to accomplish will only help you to grow and perform better as an individual and an employee. We should be relishing the hardships and challenges that we face in our careers as these are the moment that will help shape our lives and decide our paths, making us better equipped as people and more resilient as an employee. I believe we need the rough to appreciate what the smooth looks like, and it isn’t something that should be causing us to jump ship and move on.

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Pictured: Working from home during the pandemic has altered what people value in their job.

Research has shown that those who are unhappy in their jobs are constantly seeking more money, power and influence and those who are content have come to a realisation that ‘enough’ was all they needed. Enough money to get by, enough recognition and respect for a job well done, and enough reason to wake up in the morning and want to go to work.

The rise of the millennial worker has been all about the balance of purpose versus pay cheque, but now as we move into a dramatically different era of working in a post-covid world it will become more about success versus happiness and the realisation that one is not inexplicably tied to the other. The age-old story of work hard, achieve success and then you’ll find happiness is no longer applicable to our society and can be a dangerous model to aspire to if success doesn’t come easily. Maybe we’ve had it backwards all these years, and happiness isn’t a result of success, but the cause.

Success can mean 100 different things to 100 different people, so much so that it has lost all meaning in our working lives. The real challenge is all about finding positivity and enjoyment in what you do, which will naturally make you a more productive person and a great employee. Perhaps in 2021 ‘enough’ is all that we should be striving for. Stop holding out for that perfect job and start enjoying the journey to happiness and fulfilment.

This column first appeared in Connect Magazine, which you can read HERE.

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