A note to Job seekers and recruiters
Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher has something to say to job seekers of our present day: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I do agree with this premise but only if you have the luxury to choose the job you like. If the answer is no, better stick to “loving what you are doing” argument.
Job seekers with limited options would not mind learning the ropes of the job they are hired for when already in the company.
How about the job recruiter? How do you best gauge if the candidate could do well in the company after he or she is hired?
Given the assumption that job seekers usually accept job offer on the basis of better pay, travel/career opportunities, good incentives, better office location and other convenient or even challenging packages that go with the job offer, what would motivate them to keep that job? Meaning.
A meaningful job is not typically and consciously sought for by job seekers; finding meaning within our respective job is what we simply lost in the process while sorting out our way to the corporate jungle. That is why, after sometime, even if we do not have enough reasons to leave the company, we look for “better opportunities”; and that is why, job recruiter must see to it that the particular candidate who seemed to be the best fit for the job could also demonstrate that they can find meaning in what they do.
I was once a voracious job seeker who finds pleasure in applying jobs which are sometimes beyond my field or even those I am simply overqualified. I have the habit of collecting ideas on how job recruiter sort out my competencies and how they would weigh judgement based on company protocol or their intuitive assessment. Most of those job interviewers failed to amaze me. Few have the guts and the sense to ask me how I find meaning in my job. I could have shared a decade of hard work and why I am still exploring, searching, seeking and discerning for a job worth my time and effort to call it my own life work, if they’ve asked me.
Options abound, as opportunities are, but why the drive to search for a job aside from the need to sustain your lifestyle, to survive, or to live and earned your daily bread? It’s all about meaning. Beyond all the lucrative opportunities, the gnawing feeling that you are looking for something better in your career and that void which you desire to be filled in drives or pushes you to look for something significant, that is, meaning.
Work, as defined, is an activity which involves physical and mental effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. When something is not anymore an effort to you (physically and mentally) then, it ceases to be referred to as “work”. When boredom sets in and you have the feeling that you are not engaging enough and you are stuck, then, whatever you do ceases to be considered “work”, you are merely a tourist in vacation, and the job you currently have, becomes an option which you drag yourself into, or later, drop like a hot a potato. Work has a purpose and aside from getting or providing result, work must have direction. Say, the purpose of working eight (8) hours on a company report or on creating a database or a system is for what? Please your boss? Satisfy a customer? Reaching a quota? Sales target? We define targets so your direction is clear, but the nagging question persists: is it meaningful to you? If the work you are doing does not have any more meaning and becomes a means only to get your paycheck, then there is a pending danger that you are getting less of what you work for.
While paycheck, fun workplace, and engaged team weight more in you checklist for job, at the end of the day, you will still ask yourself: what added to my growth today? Is there anything new or anything meaningful which makes me learn something about myself, about others, about life in general and about my job in particular? Without answers to those questions, seeking for meaning is not over yet; the search for a meaningful engagement at work continues.
As HR practitioner, this sounds ridiculous, but the first question to the applicants should not only about their job experience, or salary expectation, or what they can contribute to the company but this:
“Did you find meaning in what you do/did in your previous job?”
If the answer is negative, you can be sure that this particular candidate is still seeking and searching for what is meaningful, or better, if that question never crossed his or her mind, then, you have given the applicant a question to ponder. If he or she finds it already, the question on what he or she is looking for in terms of meaning must be asked. Probably, you as an interviewer would know if this particular candidate’s need is at your disposal, or if his/her quest is what the work required. You can also glean from the applicant’s answer if this person is more than just a job seeker—ideally, we look for someone who is a meaning-seeker—albeit a person who finds and continuously look for meaning in what he or she does, and who continuously look forward to finding more meaning at work. This is the best candidate you have so far.
A job seeker ceases to be one if the meaning sought is found. Meaning is what made us human, what defines us or keep us alive. Not work. Not job. Not the pay check.
When an employer finds a meaning-seeker more than a job-seeker, then, the search is over. For the candidate, the search is not yet over since meaning is forever to be sought; but for the HR recruiter/ interviewer, the search is really over.