If jobs were lovers

By Juliet Soh

A friend who’s graduating in a few months’ time went into panic mode because he doesn’t know what jobs he should apply for. He can’t make up his mind because every job opening he saw seemed attractive.

He likes Job A because it’s glamorous, and Job B because it’s what he likes, however, he can’t give up Job C because he thinks it has the best career prospects. More importantly, he has diverse likes and interests, and he can’t find that one job that allows him to satisfy all of them.

If jobs were lovers, he would be a super-bad philanderer.

And then I spoke to a friend who is like that person who always goes back to her abusive lover. Except that it's her detestable job she can't seem to leave.

She hated her job, complained to me several times that she could never see a future in that job function. So she resigned, but went back to it. Two times.

She made up her mind to leave the industry for good, and even made plans to enter another one. But just before she went to do her exam for a professional certification (to facilitate the career transition), she changed her mind. She said she wasn’t sure if she should venture into the unknown, doubted that she'd be good in it, and then decided to return to her old job function. She convinced herself, for the third time, that this job was the best she could ever get, and that she should stick to it - no matter how much she disliked it. No more wandering heart.

My advice for them may sound very much like what I would say if I were dishing out relationship advice:

To “philandering” friend: There’s no perfect job in this world. Only jobs with downsides you can put up with, and joys you can’t live without. Every job is a learning experience, and thank goodness, leaving a job that’s unsuitable isn’t quite as dramatic as Kim Kardashian’s divorce. Trust your instinct, and go with the job you feel most “right” about. And then, give your best shot, and make the most of out of it.

To friend who can’t get away from job you hate: Sometimes, it’s by giving up that you can allow better things to come your way. And by giving up, I’m not just referring to your joy-exhausting job, but your fears of trying something new. But if you decide to stay in this job, good luck to you – just remember to tell yourself that this time it’ll be different, because you are going to make it different.

You see, dear friends, that’s because YOU are the variable in this love-hate relationship with your job. While it’s difficult to change what your job entails, it’s so much easier to change the way you approach it, isn’t it?

Juliet heads the Content team in JobsCentral. She spends her after-work hours listening to her friends' problems for free.