Monday, April 8, 2013

That's Why It's Called Work

One of the first things we learn in the headhunting business is to identify why a prospective candidate wants to make a job change. After many years in this business I’ve heard just about every reason (or excuse) imaginable. I am frequently amused and sometimes confused by the reasons candidates give for wanting to make a job change. Having worked in the transportation industry before getting into headhunting, I have a pretty good sense as to just how demanding the work can be. And the truth of the matter is that any work of any value in any industry is often demanding.

When it comes to a candidate’s reasons for wanting to make a job change, the headhunter in me wants to know how badly the candidate really wants to change jobs and how those reasons will be perceived by prospective employers. As an old guy who has worked since he was big enough to carry a rake, a shovel or a hoe; I often want to say something like: “Really? Is that what you’re upset about? That just comes with the territory. That’s why it’s call work. Get used to it.”

I’ve probably pissed off some candidates by telling them that their complaint is just with the work itself and it’s not likely to be any better somewhere else. I’m sure they’ve ended up talking to other headhunters who will tell them what they want to hear and find them the “perfect job”. I know it happens, because often I hear from these same candidates some months later and guess what; they have ended up in an even worse situation. Eventually, they come to realize that working is not always fun and games. There are problems and bosses and co-workers and associates and mistakes and competitors and customers and suppliers and regulations and time constraints always bearing down on you. And that’s not even counting the family and personal commitments and responsibilities one must handle.

Bottom-line, life is hard. No matter how much we are bombarded with ads showing beautiful people enjoying the good life, deep down inside we know that life is hard. Most of us don’t win the lottery and none of us live forever. Feel like bitching about your job? Go visit some wounded veterans. Wish you didn’t have to work? Spend a few hours at a nursing home with people who wished they could still work or even just remember what it was like to work.

Sometimes changing jobs is the right thing to do. It may be for a better opportunity that simply isn’t available with your current employer. It may be to get away from a negative situation that is truly unique and not just something that “comes with the territory”. It may even make sense to change careers and go to a different industry when you realize that you just hate the type of work you’re doing. But most of the time, it comes down to how you treat your work…not how your work treats you.

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