Wanted: A job that matters

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I recently attended a seminar on ways to stay focused during a long and intensive job search. I was a rookie compared to many others in the room, given that fewer than two months have passed since I last held a job.

Some folks have been looking for years.

Losing sight in today’s job market is easy. Ask three experts for the key in finding a job today, and you’ll hear five opinions, all of which are right and all of which are wrong.

Becoming overwhelmed by website searches is easier than killing three hours on Facebook. Depression is normal for many in my shoes, so getting out of the house, even for a cup of coffee at the local shop, is crucial.

Job searching should be a full-time job, but not all jobs are five days a week, eight hours a day. It’s OK to take a day off and do something fun.

If job seekers understand such realities, they are better prepared to respond to them and can stay focused on finding the right job.

At least, those are some of the nuggets I took away from the seminar, but I found myself hung up on one element of the afternoon: writing a personal mission statement. I’ve never written one, and I went blank when the seminar leader asked us to write one.

I glanced around the room and noticed 30 other job seekers feverishly working on their statements, but I had nothing. Zip.

Me, the guy who can pound out a thousand words in an hour or two, couldn’t think of 50 for a personal mission statement to help keep me stay focused on my job search.

Slight failure, but it happens to the best of us. Sigh.

I’ve been spending much of my time these last two months of unemployment working on my personal writings through this blog and other essays on fatherhood and fatherlessness I hope to see published as a book one day.

In a flash I had a mission statement:

Why do I write?

I want to see you smile as you read the words I strung together because that means my words matter to you.

I want to hear you laugh at the stories I tell of just how silly my kids can be because that means you understand me.

I want to see you wipe tears away from your cheeks as you read just how much my children mean to me because that means your children mean just as much to you.

I want you to love your children as much as I love mine, I want you to be inspired by what I write to show them every day.

After all, words only matter to the people who want to read them, and I want my words to matter. 

I want to matter.

I looked down at what I wrote, and scratched my head. How could those words help me find a job in today’s competitive market?

I don’t mention market share, rising profits, or increasing productivity, all of which are important to hiring managers today if one believes the talk about what “they” say, whoever “they” are.

Other job seekers started reading their statements aloud, and they all sounded perfectly practical while mine sounded almost ethereal. My statement explained quite a bit about why I write about my experiences in fatherhood, but I didn’t see how it could relate to a full-time job.

Only when I sat down to write this post several days later did it hit me: I want to matter, and employers want people who want to matter.

That’s my personal statement to keep me focused during my job hunt. I want a job that matters.

I don’t need to be the top rung on the ladder. After all, one can’t reach the top rung without the ones below it, but I want a job that plays an important role for whatever organization will have me.

I want to be missed when I’m not there.

I want my mistakes to be noticed, not because I want to make them but because if someone notices them that means they matter. That my job matters.

I want people to say I made a difference.

If I can do that, everything else will fall into place.

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