The Job Seeker’s Dilemma

November 24, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Blog

I have been working as long as I can remember for the family business. I have had to apply for jobs in the past, but settled into the public relations industry. While I’ve looked for clients from time to time, I haven’t been job searching in a while. My son, home from college, is doing that now. As an economics major, he’s taken a very businesslike approach to the process:

While searching for work offers its own set of challenges for young professionals entering a competitive job market, selecting which offer to accept is often just as daunting. Common sense would dictate that the best job is always the one that pays the most, but this assumption isn’t often true. When evaluating any potential opportunity, there are often less obvious factors that one must consider in order to make the best decision possible. Economists refer to these choices as opportunity costs, or the limited resources you have to give up when you make a decision. If you or someone you know is currently seeking their first real job or deciding on a career change, here are a few additional things to consider.


Would you take a well-paying job if it meant working 12-hours a day? For most people the answer would be no. While this job would certainly award you with a plentiful salary, it would cost you a significant amount of time that you could be spending with family, doing household chores or engaging in leisure activities. Ask yourself how much you value your personal time and how much of your time you’re willing to use for work versus other activities.


Would you take a well-paying job if it might be more physically or mentally taxing than you could handle? For most people the answer would be no. While a college graduate could make a decent income working on an oil decker in the middle of the ocean, the high levels of physical exertion of the job, along with its dangerous nature would make the opportunity far less appealing.

On the flip side, a college graduate could reduce physical and mental energy working as a video game tester but would only earn a small income. How much stress you experience in your job often determines how much energy you can put into your relationships and hobbies. Stress can also be detrimental to your health. Ask yourself how much you value your mental and physical well-being when selecting a job?


Would you take a well-paying job that you absolutely hated in lieu of an enjoyable job that doesn’t quite pay the bills? For most people the answer would be no. The amount of pleasure a person receives from a job is often a critical factor in determining the job’s value. A person with a passion for painting would be willing to tolerate an inconsistent income as an artist while another person would tolerate a “less than fun office job” if it meant making a decent living. I often hear the phrase “do what you love and the money will come” but there are often times in life when picking a job you “love” isn’t completely practical. Ask yourself how much you value your personal pleasure when selecting a job?

Regardless of how you balance Time-Energy-Enjoyment, you will learn something from any job you are fortunate enough to get. You might learn what you “don’t” want as a career. If you are lucky enough to have a choice, consider your values and what jobs can put you in the closest proximity to your future career interests. Remember to use those economic principles when making your next big career move; make sure you know your opportunity costs of your decisions.

Source by Mary Louise Vannatta

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