Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
21 March 2013updated 11 Sep 2021 9:22am

“Most people don’t put much thought into chosing a career.”

Matthew Jennings, author of The Career Bible, explains why this is ridiculous.

By Matthew Jennings

Finding your dream career is a lot of bother. 84 per cent of people are dissatisfied with their choice of career (CBS News 2012). That figure is ridiculous. It was ridiculous when it was 80 per cent in 2010 (Deloitte) and ridiculous when it was 41 per cent in 2005 (Wall Street Journal). Do you know that most people spend 50,000 hours of their lives at work? That is a lot of hours. I find that most people don’t put an enormous amount of thought or effort into choosing their careers.

“Why are you a quantity surveyor?”

“I had a summer job when I was 16 – with a friend of my dad’s – and sort of fell into it from there.”

I took more trouble choosing a breadmaker… To really be happy at work, your career choice needs to match your values. If you are driven by “spirituality, creativity, wisdom, generosity and compassion” you are unlikely to be happy in banking. If your deep drivers are “ambition, wealth, success, respect and leadership’” you probably shouldn’t be a social worker. Simplistic, I know, but true.

The other thing that astounds me is that when people do know what they want to do, when they know exactly what their passion is, they don’t know how to achieve it. They can’t write a decent C.V, or find a job that isn’t being advertised. They don’t know how to prepare for and perform at interview.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

I have seen the “perfect” candidate fail to get their dream job so many times, because at some point during the recruitment process they cocked up.

Content from our partners
Harnessing breakthrough thinking
Are we there yet with electric cars? The EV story – with Wejo
Sherif Tawfik: The Middle East and Africa are ready to lead on the climate

It is easy to fix job hunting skills and tools. If someone is prepared to put the hours in, it’s quite simple to move through the recruitment steps successfully. The hard bit is identifying your passion and being honest with yourself about what you want – and what you are prepared to give up to get it . If you really want to be head of a global company you will be unlikely to be at your child’s sports day or the nativity play or anything outside of work (at least until you are at the top). If you want to be a musician you will be lucky to also live in a big, fancy house.

I spent some time looking at what makes top sportspeople different to us. It boils down to the ability to focus and a driving ambition to succeed. They put the extra hours in, sacrifice loads of things and will push on when everything looks to have gone wrong. The reason they do this is that they have found their passion and know that nothing else will do. They don’t see it as work. They love it.

In order to succeed in finding our dream careers we need to put the same effort in as professional sports people. We need to find our passion and then get a job/ career in that industry. For 50,000 hours spent at work, I think it’s worth it, This isn’t a new way of thinking.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Confucius (551 – 479 BC)

The Career Bible is written by Matthew Jennings and Shaun Van Wyk and combines in depth career coaching skills, recruitment know how, top level sports psychology and experience in climbing the corporate ladder. The Career Bible is available at all good bookstores. More details at www.thecareerbible.com

Topics in this article :