Not everybody is lucky enough to have a job they enjoy as much as I enjoy mine. Yes, in addition to my responsibilities as Prince of the Internet, I extend my considerable talents into multiple fields: I also operate as a freelance writer and editor-for-hire, a sometime roadie and a moonlighting musician. It’s not so glamorous as it sounds, but I do know a lot of you, dear readers, would probably skin somebody alive for the chance to pursue the things you love to do, so many of you would count me blessed to do what I love every day.
My question to you is this: why aren’t you doing the same thing?
Now, before you get all up in my metaphorical grill with the myriad reasons why it’s not feasible for you to go write books on a beach in Spain or teach English to disenfranchised children in Uganda or whatever (and before I agree it probably does lack in the feasibility department) let me rephrase my question.
Okay, some dreams aren’t meant to be realized: if you’re twenty-five years old working in a cubicle in some soulless company because you got a political science degree from a mid-level university and don’t have any real-world experience apart from your stint bartending at Crocodile Rock in college, you’re probably not going to be commanding a shuttle mission any time soon.
But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be doing something you prefer to your soul-sucking entry position, getting coffee for your superiors and filing TPS reports and whatnot. So what’s stopping you?
Simply put, it’s probably you. And not for the reasons you think.
A lot of information comes across my desk every day. From all corners of the globe, people are constantly sending me points of interest they think I could turn into a blog or some other representation of wit; given the sheer volume of stuff sent in by my widespread network of Correspondents, it’s just not possible for me to give each piece due consideration. Sometimes, however, I get handed a gem I can’t ignore. Such was the case a few days ago when Correspondent Rae Leets handed me a book entitled “How To Hire The Perfect Employer”, by Jim Beqaj.
“Read it,” she told me, “and it will change the way you think about employment forever.” I was understandably skeptical, given my already-favourable employment circumstances, and given my well-documented and far-reaching cynicism regarding anything to do with the self-help genre, which is what this book appeared to be. I mean, the title struck me as kind of pithy – something you’d see featured on Oprah’s Book Club alongside “Releasing the Inner You” and that sort of thing. But you all know the old saw about judging books by covers, and in this instance the cliché applies quite literally.
The author, Jim Beqaj, started his career in investment banking with Wood Gundy in the late 70s and rose to prominence in the early 90s working with BMO, CIBC, and as co-founder of BayStreetDirect.com. He founded his own company, Beqaj International, Inc. in 2002 and has dedicated his time since then to helping his clients innovatively approach their business dealings.
“How To Hire The Perfect Employer” presupposes a couple of things: most important, that you can be the most talented person in the world, and if you’re in a work environment where you don’t “fit”, you won’t be successful.
“Come on,” you might well be saying. “It’s everyone’s greatest desire to ‘fit in’ but the fact of the matter is there’s no such thing as total personality compatibility.” And you’d be right, you pedants, but what Beqaj is talking about has less to do with interpersonal fit (though that does play a role) and more to do with how a business operates and what role you would play in that operation.
I don’t want to spoil the whole book, because this is quite obviously a glowing review and I expect you to go read it at your earliest convenience (and I don’t want to reinvent the wheel by explaining everything here), but I took Beqaj’s message like this: in most of the jobs I’ve worked, even ones where my particular skill set was actually being utilized, I’ve never felt like “this is it – the company I’ll work with forever”. And the reason for that, according to Jim Beqaj, is that I haven’t “fit” into any of my work environments. They have different ideas about organization, about conflict resolution and most importantly – about me.
See, the other element of Beqaj’s philosophy represents a concept I’ve wholeheartedly embraced since reading it (and you’ll be surprised that an egomaniac like me wouldn’t have at least shaken hands with this concept before now). Beqaj lays out strategies to develop what he calls a Personal Infomercial, basically translating the job search and interview process: from a scene out of Oliver Twist in which the protagonist begs for a job – any job – while being summarily judged and dismissed by their prospective employers, to a scene out of Jerry Maguire wherein the to-be employee basically says “This is why I’m awesome, this is what I bring to the table, this is why you so very desperately want to hire me.”
Naturally, I’m paraphrasing, but I’m doing so because I really want you to go read this book.
Seriously, a lot of people don’t have a solid idea of what they’re good at, even though they’re probably good at something. Beqaj walks you through the steps to figure out what kind of skills you have, what you’re best at (because that’s usually what you like doing best), how to explicate that without resorting to walking employers through your tedious resume, and how to determine whether the employer you’re talking to (and his or her company) is a good fit for your personality, your conflict resolution style and your skill set. Sound complicated? It’s really not. I blew through this book in two hours and I’m better for the experience.
I know it’s unusual for me to be so generous in my praise, friends, so I hope you realize I’m serious in what I’m saying here. Believe it or not, I have some semblance of compassion for my fellow humans, insofar as too many of us are stuck in bullshit, go-nowhere jobs we hate. If you have to work for a living (and sadly, we all do unless we’re called Paris Hilton), you might as well be doing something you love. Take a gander at “How To Hire The Perfect Employer” – it’s a solid step in the right direction, if your perception of “right direction” is “not waking up every morning wanting to gargle a round from a revolver rather than go back to your hateful job”.
Do something proactive, for a change. Step one is reading State of Affairs. Here’s your step two.