3 Reasons Why “Take Whatever Job You Can Get” Is the Worst Advice Ever
I still have warm memories of my college graduation. The weather was perfect, my cap stayed on my head, and I managed to score a seat near my friends even though the graduating class was huge.
Then came the hammer from our commencement speaker, who told us that because the job market was so bad, we should all take whatever company would hire us. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to live with my parents forever, or maybe it’s because I’m susceptible to anyone speaking into a microphone, but I took that advice to heart and quickly ended up working at a place I didn’t like.
Sure, I made just enough money to move out on my own, but I quickly learned that “take what you can get” is really bad job advice. And because I’d hate for you to settle so fast, here are three reasons why I think you should wait for the right position, even when it feels like your search has taken forever, even when you hate your current position, and even when you’ve been laid off.
1. You’ll Rush Every Part of the Job Search
Sometimes, things fall into place, and your dream gig will just land in your lap. But if you’re anything like me, your job search will take a little while. And that’s OK, which is hard to believe when everyone around you is resigned to the idea that you should just take whatever you can get. I fell into this trap, too. In fact, I fell so hard into this trap that I sped up my first search out of college and accepted a position in the middle of an interview, didn’t negotiate salary, and worst of all I left that day knowing I’d probably hate it.
What to Do Instead
Aside from taking a deep breath and thinking carefully about each offer you get, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions before you dive into your search. Maybe there’s an industry you want to break into, or maybe you’ll discover you still don’t know what you want to do with your life. The good news is that there are no wrong answers, but when you do figure out where you currently stand, you’ll be able to create a plan that’ll help you avoid applying for jobs that you might feel pressured to accept, even though you know you wouldn't enjoy the work.
2. You’ll Take Some Bad Advice Along the Way
There’s one universal truth about every single person you’ll ever meet: They all have an opinion on your choices. Some will offer good suggestions, and some will tell you that you jump into a career in finance even though you want to be a writer. It’s OK to listen to the advice people give you, but you should also listen to your gut. You know what’s best for you (at least, most of the time).
What to Do Instead
Here’s something I found to be helpful during my last hunt: Bring a notepad with you whenever you attend a networking event, job fair, or even meet someone in your network for coffee and jot down whatever advice you want to consider later. When you get home, go back to the notepad and reevaluate the tips you received. You’ll find that some make sense, and some should be crossed out with the thickest Sharpie pen you have on your desk. Best of all, you’ll get in the habit of not acting on any bad advice you receive on the spot.
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3. You Could End Up Doing Something You Hate for a Long Time
I learned very early in my career that saying “at least I’m getting a paycheck” is an excellent sign that you should start looking for a new job. And yet, even though I was in a position I didn’t enjoy, I stayed for a few years. Why? Because I had moved out of my house to pursue a career I didn’t love, and suddenly I had bills to pay. And because schlepping all my things back to my parents' house wasn’t an option, those responsibilities weren’t going away.
What to Do Instead
Whenever you're offered a gig, graciously accept and ask for some time to consider the whole package. And in that time, don’t be afraid to run your list of pros and cons by people you trust (as long as they’re not the same people telling you to take what you can get). Often, even saying the things you’re thinking can shed a lot of light on whether or not you should accept it.
It’s tough not to listen to people who are telling you that no job offer is a bad job offer. After all, it comes from a good place. Those people are just trying to make sure you don’t starve, which is obviously a nice sentiment. However, just because the search might be tricky at times doesn’t mean you should feel obligated to jump at the first opportunity. You know what you’re looking for in your next (or even first) job, so trust yourself and don’t be afraid to wait for the right opportunity.
Photo of sad man courtesy of Shutterstock.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author