I was updating my CV today: an interesting experience that entails, essentially, writing an identity statement. I was proud to be the person described by the previous version, but I suspect that what it says is simply not polarized in the same direction as the filter applied by the agencies through whose web-sites I have been applying. In addressing this, I have created a new identity.
I have had some help from an ex-colleague who is so successful that he has not applied for a job for several years; agencies send him work. Mostly his suggestions were great but sometimes they really stung me. Thinking about why this is, I realised that he was proposing changes to my expression of my own identity that I did not feel comfortable with. Though those changes might make my CV more attractive for certain jobs, I didn’t feel that those were not jobs I would want to do.
“I once heard that the reason we get paid is to do jobs we don’t really want to do”, said my friend.
I was saddened.
“I’ve always hoped”, I replied, “that when I find a job I love doing, I will be so good at it that, if rewarded commensurately, I will be very well paid”
Later in the evening I said the same thing to my niece Penny, and added that I would feel proud, not ashamed, to earn so much because I know I’m worth it. I would much prefer that to earning a shameful amount as a reward for tolerating an awful job.
Penny told me a story about someone she met recently who had quit a well-paid IT job and taken a much lower paid job doing something that involved people and more regular hours. This improved her life, despite the drop in salary. Penny made the crucial observation that we speak of climbing the ladder: more challenge and more reward, as if this is the way to attain happiness. Nobody speaks of descending the ladder, like a Fireman.
I like that metaphor: if you’re a fire-um-person, you have to climb the ladder, and when you do it gets hot and dangerous. But you’re job’s not done until you descend, perhaps with a rescued child over your shoulder.
And equally, I feel I will be happy to climb when I find the job that I love. I’ll willingly take both the job-satisfaction reward AND the remuneration, because when I get that position I will be delivering value and feeling proud.