Career Center Blog

October 29, 2012

Do you have a terrible job or just a bad attitude?


We've all had some jobs in our experience that we regret — the high-school cash register job, the unappreciated office drone, the back-breaking summertime construction job. They're all part of our career evolution. But have you ever been in a job that was not just personally unfulfilling but detrimental to humanity?

I thought about this after reading a puzzling CNN Money item about jobs that allegedly do more harm than good. In a survey conducted by PayScale, 30,000 people were asked whether they thought their jobs had a positive effect on the world, giving them a range of answers, such as "very much," "yes," "a little" and "no." About 1 percent checked the box saying "My job may make the world a worse place."

Good heavens! Is this a new generation of mad scientists coming through the ranks? Not exactly. According to PayScale, the group that expressed the most self-loathing was "fast-food worker," with 38.4 percent of those respondents saying their jobs made the world a worse place, followed by "gaming dealer" (17.6 percent). Others in the top 15 list included telemarketers, TV newscast directors, bartenders, debt collectors, fashion designers, investment bankers, attorneys, retail sales associates, advertising executives, claims adjusters and petroleum engineers.

Granted, these professions make regular appearances in stand-up comic routines for being anything from inane to annoying. Many of them deal with common unpleasant experiences or are associated with various social ills. But none of these professions themselves are inherently evil (OK, maybe except for telemarketing).

Fast-food workers provide efficient service that is demanded by millions of customers a day, but they, alone, can't be blamed for the obesity epidemic. Casino dealers and bartenders don't force addicts to gamble or drink alcohol. Fashion designers, retailers, ad execs and debt collectors aren't the ones driving up consumers' runaway credit card debt. Don't like lawyers or insurance workers? Just ask folks in the Mid-Atlantic states over the next few days how important attorneys and claims adjusters will be in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

In her book "101 Ways to Love Your Job," author and workplace communications expert Stephanie Goddard Davidson explains that what truly makes a job miserable is not the duties that are required but the people who do not fully embrace them.

"If you don't feel lucky to have your job and get a sense of satisfaction regularly from contributing to making others' lives work better, then my advice is to start digging ... and see where you contribute to the larger whole, the larger good," Davidson writes. "It's critical that you find your calling and not just work to get paid — that you see your impact on your organization."

So if you think your work only makes the world worse, don't just blame your profession. Look in the mirror first and ask yourself if you're doing everything you can make your job as meaningful as possible. If you can't, then start looking elsewhere immediately.

Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

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I was entertained by this article. In my own opinion, I don’t think there is a worse job, as long as it is decent and legal. Workers just have to love what they have. Maybe people/consumer/customers need to control their selves.

Workers should not blame their selves as long as they are doing the right thing. For example, the fast food workers, they are not the reason for the obesity of other people. Maybe they should try to control their self from overeating. Fast food workers are there only to serve.

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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