The guilt of jobhunting

This may seem like an unusual title, but it’s something I felt as I have been pursuing my next job. The fact is, as an accountant, those that are interviewing me are those that have “succeeded” as they might be seen by their peers. These are mostly finance directors of the various companies for which I have interviews.

So far, I have had 4. One has been very good and I liked the chap I spoke with a lot. I was also given reason to suppose that they were considering putting me forward for 2nd (and final) interview. The other 3 didn’t go anywhere near so well and I am not optimistic of going forward with those.

The thing is, though, that in my position, I’ve had recruitment consultants fall over themselves trying to throw job specs at me. One role has been put forward to me by at least 4 recruitment consultants, but to be honest I’ve lost count. My phone number has been given out by current colleagues and one night last week my phone barely stopped ringing from 5:30-9:00pm. But this is where the guilt comes in; I am not having to do much work to get these opportunities sent my way.

I put my CV on Monster and responded to a few emails and phonecalls, trying to keep track of who I have spoken to and what jobs I’ve said I’m happy to apply for. I’ve made a few meetings with people early in the morning, which has required getting the 5:30am train (not so easy now that the clocks have gone forward!).

The only thing vaguely sacrificial I have to do is wear my posh shoes all day. Normally I wear trainers with my suit and only change into my formal shoes once I’m at work. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to carry my trainers into an interview. Now my formal shoes aren’t the most comfortable for walking long distances in, so wearing them all day results in blistering and bleeding.

Yet if I weren’t as educated and qualified as I am, I really don’t know where I would go. It’s this that makes me feel like a useless numpty who gets stuff thrown at me that I really don’t deserve. Then we have to have to come on to the notion of salary.

For those who of you who don’t know, recruitment consultants make their fee as a proportion of the starting salary of the individual placed. Then each consultant gets an individual commission based on the fee. So it is in their interest to try and push for as high a salary as possible. Because I am a christian, I am a socialist. I will not let myself be motivated by materialism or greed. So I am perfectly happy to take a pay cut if it gets me a job that keeps a roof over my head. In this I agree with Paul when he wrote to Timothy:

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Tim 6:6-9)

Yet this is a complete anathema when talking to consultants and other capitalists.

One chap I spoke to today (I wrote most of this on Monday night) went on a very long spiel about how he wasn’t interested in his commission, only to then go on immediately to start suggesting I aim for a salary that was £10k higher than what I am on now.

I am already paid more than the national average salary (which is around £26k, to the best of my knowledge) and so to ask for further increases would represent a seriously warped sense of priorities. Yet to play down one’s aims risks looking like you have no drive. Recall, though that I am meeting with finance directors; they only got to their position by having a significant amount of ambition and consider that anyone who is worthwhile will be just like them. So unless I portray myself as far more right-wing than I am, I run the risk of not getting a job in the first place.

This morning (Tuesday) I posted a short note on Twitter & Facebook that ambition is another word for discontent. Not one person agreed with me. One post suggested that the opposite of ambition was laziness. I would disagree with this; laziness is the opposite of hard work. My aim is to find a job that I am good at and can enjoy. I do not feel a need to try to climb career ladder or aim to be a finance director. Those who do are not the happiest people I know. Whatever they have, they always want more.

Living a contended lifestyle is completely alien in today’s world. But I’m content to swim against the tide of materialism.

Have you ever found jobhunting induces guilt, or felt pressured to put a different emphasis on your goals in order to get a job?

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4 responses to “The guilt of jobhunting

  1. I was going to agree with your Tweet! But my Twitterfeed was interrupted by family life. Years ago in a Christian group meeting someone (with a top professional job) said he believed ambition was important. I told him I had no ambition whatsover. “What on earth is it that gets you out of bed in the morning??” he asked incredulously.
    I paused (because I believe time has huge value) and said: “When I wake up in the morning I am still there. And God is still there. So I get up.” I believe that was near the beginning of my most contented time of life, even as my health severely worsened soon after, and now all my attempts at working seem to be dashed for the forseeable future.
    I think I am with you on this, esp the level of salary and job position that you need, rather than want. I realise though there is a more male aspect to the issue, relating to the true “worth” of having a job (any job). This feeds in to the issues of personal standing in society and ability to support oneself. My SO sees things differently from me – he is currently desperate to be in a job where his skills are valued (not monetarily, but he does have a family to support!). @contempl_activ

  2. I usually feel guilty. Usually about not doing enough to find a job or making the wrong choices. I worry about whether I should be prepared to do absolutely anything even if it’s really extremely awful. If I’m not prepared to do something extremely awful, do I even deserve to complain? That’s the sort of thing I usually feel guilty about when job hunting.

  3. While I can understand where you are coming from on the “money/happiness” side, I think you are being too simplistic.

    Firstly, recruitment consultants aren’t going to push up your salary incessantly out of greed. The inverse is true. They have to push you to a realistic value and no more or else they risk pricing you out of the job – which means they get nil commission. Getting 5% of £50k is better than 5% of nothing.

    Secondly, to do the best for society, you may be better off taking the higher salary. You then pay higher income taxes – which will then be redistributed. Additionally, you have greater disposable income which you can redistribute as you wish (either to charitable donations or to spend on yourself, if that’s your choice). I can guarantee than any savings made by your employer on salary will not be redistributed in as “fair” a manner (it will be paid out to shareholders or senior management in a way to minimise their tax burden. Even if through corporation tax it is likely to be at a lower rate than you pay in income tax). Getting the higher salary doesn’t have to be “sinful” – if you chose to spend it in a “moral” way.

  4. I would have imagined that finance directors would be delighted to find a qualified person whose salary ambitions were modest?