Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, knows a thing or two about work, and recently he was willing to share some pearls of wisdom with a fan on the job hunt. Parker Hall, who describes himself as “go-getter,” has been searching for the “right career” for the last year, and turned to Rowe for a little help. Here’s what he wrote:
I’ve spent this last year trying to figure out the right career for myself and I still can’t figure out what to do. I have always been a hands on kind of guy and a go-getter. I could never be an office worker. I need change, excitement, and adventure in my life, but where the pay is steady. I grew up in construction and my first job was a restoration project. I love everything outdoors. I play music for extra money. I like trying pretty much everything, but get bored very easily. I want a career that will always keep me happy, but can allow me to have a family and get some time to travel. I figure if anyone knows jobs its you so I was wondering your thoughts on this if you ever get the time! Thank you!
– Parker Hall
Rowe’s responded true to his blue-collar expertise. “My first thought is that you should learn to weld and move to North Dakota. The opportunities are enormous, and as a ‘hands-on go-getter,’ you’re qualified for the work,” Rowe wrote.
But Rowe went on to note that it wasn’t Hall’s qualifications that were tripping up his job hunt. Rather, Rowe questioned whether, with Hall’s impossibly high standards, he had built a wall between himself and his goal. Rowe said,
Consider your own words. You don’t want a career – you want the “right” career. You need “excitement” and “adventure,” but not at the expense of stability. You want lots of “change” and the “freedom to travel,” but you need the certainty of “steady pay.” You talk about being “easily bored” as though boredom is out of your control. It isn’t. Boredom is a choice. Like tardiness. Or interrupting. It’s one thing to “love the outdoors,” but you take it a step further. You vow to “never” take an office job. You talk about the needs of your family, even though that family doesn’t exist. And finally, you say the career you describe must “always” make you “happy.”
Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.
Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you.
Rowe’s thought-provoking advice isn’t limited to his job-seeking fans, though. He also testified before Congress recently about the nationwide skills gap—the gap between high unemployment numbers and the technical industries that have a difficult time recruiting employees.
“In all 50 states, everybody I talked to who owned a small business said…‘the challenge we’re facing right now is finding people who are willing to retool, retrain, reboot and learn a truly useful skill from the ground up – and work, show up early, stay late and work’,” Rowe testified. He said the biggest problem wasn’t necessarily a shortage of skilled laborers but an overall attitude in America towards “dirty” work.
“You gotta make skill cool,” he said.
When asked by a representative whether Rowe would do a Dirty Jobs episode on a member of Congress, he replied, “With respect, some jobs are just too hideous to contemplate.”
No matter how dirty your job is, the experienced lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys are here to help. Contact a lawyer today.