Life is full of frustrations. But, I like to think many of these can be eliminated by putting things in perspective. One of the things that createsfrustrations is your job. Your boss is a jerk. You are overworked and underpaid. Will there ever be a balance between what we want and what our employer wants?
There are many different reasons for taking a job. Maybe you want to live somewhere exotic, or develop certain career skills. With each job comes a different set of expectations that can help keep your work in perspective. Here is a list of common reasons why people take a job. I've broken down the job reasons into pay, job length, description and most importantly, how keeping this perspective in mind can help eliminate any frustrations of work.
(Note: Scroll to the end for a quick chart of job reasons that summarizes this article)
Pay: little to none
Job classification: part-time with no advancement or promotional opportunities
Job Length: 6-12 months
The ol' swap a roo has been going on for centuries. This type of job is especially popular when vagabonding around the world. Money is just one currency, a few others are time, food and shelter. When staying at hostels or hotels around the world it is common to meed people working there who are doing so for a free place to stay. Some have just ran out of money and are trying to recoup some finances before continuing on. Others are between stints of long-term travel and just needed a break somewhere to relax and regenerate.
When traveling these sorts of jobs are much easier to come by then paying jobs working for a foreign business of any other sort. Typically these positions are short term (no more than a year or two and typically only about 6 months), can be done under the table very easily since none or very little money is exchanged, and are low-entry positions such as checking people in, cleaning, etc. Promotional opportunities usually don't exist, nor does the chance to turn this into a full-time job since going through the legal channels (green card, etc) is so time consuming and difficult that it is not worth it for such a job.
Where to find these jobs: As most of these jobs are posted open positions you must be at location
How does this put your work in perspective: This is a low commitment job that requires minimum hours from you. It's perfect as a "get by" job, but will never amount to anything big. With that in mind, you don't have to worry about giving that extra 1%, picking up other shifts for people to impress your boss, and showing up 20 minutes early to work. Actually, most of these things are discouraged. Just work. You're only working for free room and board or as a brief respite from the winds of travel. We all know this. Don't delude yourself or anyone else into thinking it's more.
Location or Experiential
Pay: liveable, but barely
Job classification: part-time or full-time with very a glass ceiling on promotions and advancement
Job Length: 1-3 years
This type of job is similar to the one before, in that your primary goal for taking such a job isn't money but something else. In this case, the objective is to go to, or stay at a specific location or do a specific job for an extended period of time. You will need both the job to get you/ keep you there, a little bit of income to fund your travels, and housing. The ideal location saving job combines all three of these pieces. This is a difficult position to find. But, this sort of job is ideal if you are making a leap to a foreign country or different part of your own country where you have no previous connections. Another way to think of this is a "getting your foot in the door" type of positions.
Once at a place, with the big details taken care of (income, housing, visas, etc) you can focus on finding a positions that better suits your passions or pays more. Others just use this type of job to live as an expat in a foreign country for an extended time period, as people typically have these types of jobs for 1-3 years. This time frame is perfect for acclimating to a new environment and then deciding if you want to stay or move on.
Where to find these jobs: large, international corporations, government sponsored jobs and at location, small vineyards and farms
How does this put your work in perspective: If you know your job is location saving or for the experience, so too does your boss. This often means greater flexibility to enjoy your location, and a crappier job because it isn't your primary concern. (These people will often put up with anything in the short term if it keeps them where ever they want to be.)
If it is the experience you want (such as working on a vineyard in Italy) your boss knows that too. He is going to try to give you the best, full experience possible but the work may be tedious and difficult. While you will still work hard at your job, knowing that it only keeps you there or gives you an experience of some sort helps put in perspective the limited pay, advancement opportunities and less than enjoyable work.
Means to an End Job
Pay: a decent living wage
Job classification: part time or full time depending on your goals and promotions/ advancements may be there but they don't matter
Job Length: 1-3 years
In this type of job, location isn't as important as the income, as both are only temporary until you can achieve your bigger goals. It may be paying off student loans or your new car. It may be having some side cash to sustain you while you start that dream business of your own. These positions can be career or skill-development positions that you choose to use as a means to an end. With some greater goal in mind you are not looking to work until you retire at this position.
Your objective is something other than work. While you will be expected to put in full effort and time at this position you have other ambitions that guide you more than work. Now this position could be part-time, allowing you most flexibility and time if your aim is to start your own business, or full-time, if your aim is something money related (paying off debt, saving "x" amount of money, etc) You can find these jobs through your professional network, classified and job fairs.
How does this put your work in perspective: You will work hard, but the petty things that arise at work mean nothing. With something greater driving you problems and annoyances become bearable in their temporariness.
Pay: a decent living wage
Job classification: full time and promotions/ advancements probably exist
Job Length: 2-5 years
Here, the pay isn't as important as the work experience. Thinking long-term here you know that with skills of "x, y, and z" or by saying trained by "x" you can get a career type job. This is perfect for someone entering an industry for the first time, or who doesn't believe he has the skills yet to get that "perfect" job. You take this job primarily to develop your professional/ trade skill set or work with someone highly regarded in the industry.
At minimum you need 2 years to do this, but should require no more than 5 years in most professions. Often times these positions can turn into better positions with advancement opportunities once trained. You can find these jobs through your professional network, college professors, classified and job fairs.
How does this put your work in perspective: As this job can lead to a career type job and since the people you are working with have professional connections all over the place you will take this very job very seriously. This means ranking it as one of your top 3 priorities in life. The limited, or lesser pay received versus somewhere else is bearable only because you realize that down the road this sacrifice now will put your further ahead.
Pay: very good pay
Job classification: full time and promotions/ advancements exist and are regularly taken advantage of
Job Length: 10-40 years
This is the big one. Or, it may be a series of big ones strung together over 40 years. This job offers great pay and benefits and opportunities for advancement. These positions exist with strong, well-established companies and provide both safety and pay. This job could be an off shoot from the work experience job you previously had, or something new altogether. Your time and energy is devoted to work, which takes precedence over many other things. The up side is that you are no longer scraping by, as you were when you choose a location based job. Work is challenging, not tedious. You can support yourself and family members with this job, but the expectation will be that you give that extra effort when needed.
This means you may miss family events, and will spend less time doing the things you once enjoyed doing. But, still, all of this is worth it, as you have peace of mind and a job you enjoy.
How does this put your work in perspective: There is no half-assing it now. This is the big time. You put in the effort and time needed, and then some. Challenges are many. Opportunities for growth and advancement exist. Now, you are only limited by the ranking of your priorities and how far you want to take things.
The Quick Version:
|Type of Job||Description||Length||Primary Benefit||Promotion Opportunities||Job hours||Where to find these jobs||Perspective|
|Exchange||Working in Exchange for something else||6-12 months||Free room and board||none||part time||boots on the ground||It's about the benefits not pay|
|Location Saving||Working somewhere to stay in a specific location||1-3 years||Location, location, location||glass ceiling in effect||part time/ full time||boots on the ground, or with large international org.||It's all about the location/ experience|
|Greater Goal||Job is a means to a greater end||1-3 years||helps you make ends meet until you achieve your goal||may exist, but not needed||part time/ full time||this can be most any job||It's about that greater goal|
|Work Experience||Job offers the chance to develop your skill set or work with someone highly regarded||2-5 years||Developing important trade/ professional skills||can lead to career job||full time||your network, classifieds, etc||It's about those skills|
|Career Job||Opportunities exist to rise in pay and positions over time with a strong, well-established company||10-40 years||safety and pay||very good||full time||your network, classifieds, etc||It's that perfect job, that requires priority|