Who said you have to love the job you have? Okay, lots of people. But we’re rebels. Your job doesn’t always have to be everything, okay?
By now, you probably already know that I’m an advocate of the “good enough job.” This doesn’t mean a job you actively hate; rather, it’s a job that offers “relatively enjoyable paid work that allows you to live comfortably but isn’t your entire world or identity.”
Subscribing to the concept of the “good enough job” negates with the adage that “If you find something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” We’ve all grown up with that kind of pressure—the feeling that the “right” work won’t feel like work. To be honest, it feels dated and in line with toxic positivity.
The “good enough job” instead emphasizes the importance of leading a fulfilled life—outside of work. This might look like time to pursue your hobbies and avocations, it might be the financial means to afford a lifestyle you want, it might mean working with a team of people who you genuinely enjoy, it might provide lots of vacation days and a flexible schedule.
All of this is important to keep in mind when you’re considering any career moves.
However, if you’ve received a job offer or are planning to interview for a job that you’re curious about but don’t think you really and truly want, what do you do?
Are there any times that you should take a job that you don’t desire? A job that you know in your gut doesn’t feel like a “good enough” job and definitely isn’t a “dream job”?
We think that the answer to this is (perhaps surprisingly): yes. While everyone’s situation will vary, there may occasionally be times when it makes sense to “settle” for a job. Here are five times that we think your head may need to overrule your heart when it comes to your career.
- YOU HAVE LITTLE EXPERIENCE
First of all, it’s important not to be intimidated by the idea of having “no experience.” You probably have lots of experience that applies to various roles—it may just take some creative thinking to consider how it applies.
For example, maybe you were president of a women’s book club in college. This kind of role likely gave you experience in leadership, time management, and organization. This experience also demonstrates a love of reading and literature, a knowledge of women’s lit in particular, and the “above-and-beyond” kind of work ethic that any employer would love.
All of that to say: don’t sell yourself short on the experience you do have, even if it’s not explicit experience in a specific role.
If this kind of experience isn’t quite enough for the background that your ideal role requires, it may be useful to take job where you can gain that kind of experience.
Whether you’re a recent graduate, someone who is reentering the workforce after a hiatus, or simply have a gap in your employment history or resume, taking a first job you don’t *love* but recognize will provide you with the experience you need may be a smart choice.
We’re not advocating a ton of job-hopping, but committing to a role you can learn in for one or two years may help you stomach the idea that it’s not your ideal role. It might be helpful to start it with the end in mind—look at it this job as a learning opportunity that will better prepare you for your next big move on your career path. It’s professional development of sorts. It doesn’t have to be your long-term solution.
- YOU LOVE THE COMPANY
Here’s a scenario to consider: the position you’ve been offered isn’t necessarily in your field of interest, doesn’t pay super well, and includes long work hours in the office.
But—it’s at a company you’re really passionate about. Let’s say it’s a small company that doesn’t often hire for the role you’d most enjoy, but the position would come with perks like employees you could learn from, incredible opportunities for growth and development, and the opportunity for promotion.
Do you consider taking the position? Absolutely. Chances are, if you’re performing well and get along with your coworkers and supervisors, you may not be in the position for very long. Besides, who’s afraid of a little bit of hard work, if it can lead to greener pastures?
It’s a “get-your-foot-in-the-door” moment. You may not LOVE the work, but if you care about the company’s values or the company’s mission and know you’ll want to be there for a long time, it’s likely worth it to take the role.
- IT WILL HELP YOU DEVELOP THE SKILLS YOU NEED
There’s a saying that’s attributed to Albert Einstein that may be relevant here: “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Experience is the way to gain insights you’d otherwise never have, the way to sharpen your soft skills and hard skills, the way to learn how you work most effectively, the way to learn what it is you really want to do. In short, taking a position that gives you time to develop the skills that will set you on your preferred path may be a really good thing.
If you think your career goals may include a change in industries or a change in roles, it’s smart to take positions that will best prepare you for that. It’s smart to put yourself in a work environment that will strengthen those needed skills.
While it may not be the position you were hoping for, it might be a stepping stone to something more suited to your preferences in the future. A job that you know will provide you with new skills that you will apply later on is definitely one that’s worth considering.
You may not jump to the top of the proverbial ladder when you’re new to a profession, but that’s okay. (In fact, we prefer the idea of the “career jungle gym” anyway.) Being willing to develop your skills and do the “grunt work” may ultimately help get you where you want to be.
- YOUR POTENTIAL BOSS IS INCREDIBLE
Can you think of a person whose career you admire and hope to emulate? Who seems like they’d make a great mentor? Who you’d *love* to be able to speak with and learn from?
What if she offered you a job—but it wasn’t one you were super excited about?
This is the Devil Wears Prada scenario: it isn’t your ideal role, but your prospective employer is a celebrated expert who may offer you invaluable career opportunities down the line (Though we’re certainly not saying you should put up with any Devil-Wears-Prada-style emotional abuse or hostility in the meantime.).
Think of it this way: when looking at a full year on the calendar, you know taking this job might be difficult and not completely in line with your current career desires. But—when it’s over, you could be sitting pretty in the role you’ve always imagined. It might not be the right fit, but it might lead to the right fit.
Would the year be worth it? Would you take the position? It’s definitely worth considering.
- YOUR FINANCES NEED IT
And now for the most “unglamorous” but real-life reason that you might need to take a role you’re not “in love” with: money.
Let’s face it: most of us need to work. Like me, you’ve probably got bills to pay and can’t afford to drop everything or wait for the role that feels like a “dream.” You may not want to take a position that you’ve been offered, but you may need to take it, and, sometimes, that’s a-okay.
Your survival is paramount to your interests, especially in a moment like this. You haven’t been defeated, and it doesn’t mean you’ll be in the position forever—it just means you’re taking the road that will help you ease some of your more pressing financial burdens. If the role offers a valuable compensation package like bonuses and a solid base salary, it may be worth considering, depending on your financial situation. It may go from a job you don’t want to a “good enough job” if it allows you to more effectively manage your finances.
Taking a job you don’t want is never an ideal situation, but discounting the position before you’ve weighed your options could do more harm than good.
You never know—that job you don’t want might just lead to the one you do.