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Dana WilsonCareer pundits make a big deal about the perfect job. So millions of career builders make it their quest. And a fruitless quest it is.

Here we are in the 19th year of the 21st century, and the mythical perfect job has mushroomed into something even more intangible and out of reach than ever before.

By the late ’90s, the ideal job was no longer a steady paycheck, a 35-hour workweek and a fat pension, but something more amorphous. A job also had to be meaningful, pleasurable and fulfilling. And it ought to require commitment and creativity. These were attributes our great-grandparents never considered because most of the available jobs were menial. When you’re living at survival levels, you’re hardly thinking about job fulfillment.

But just as quickly as an enlightened new generation of job-searchers had realized the ideal job ought to have the above attributes, they quickly concluded that no single job could possibly provide all of them, especially in light of unabated firings. Nothing like an unexpected pink slip to make you an instant cynic.

So here we are, hopefully wiser, more sophisticated and street-smart. It’s time to bury the notion of a perfect job once and for all.

After a century of rapid-fire change, we ought to know that when companies are struggling for survival, the only people they’re making promises to are venture capitalists and stockholders – the folks funding their growth. Everyone else is dispensable. Once the corporate machine falters, there’s a good chance you’ll be history. And once you’re let go, the odds in favour of your finding a new job quickly are slim indeed.

No wonder companies like the words “downsizing” and “rightsizing.” These are now established euphemisms for a permanent housecleaning. Back in the old days, when human-resource departments were called personnel departments and HR professionals created their very own language and job candidates couldn’t understand a word they were saying, you were fired because you screwed up; now you’re laid off because you’re no longer necessary – sorry, redundant. Either way, you’re on the street without a paycheck, hustling for a new job.

Companies are not about to make lifelong promises or guarantees. So even the fantasy of a perfect job has been shattered forever. Career-builders would do better searching for a great job.

Think of every job as a steppingstone job. Obviously, we take jobs for different reasons. For example, a company has a great reputation; it is well known as a launching pad for techie superstars; its products are household names; the technology it created is legendary.

But avoid preconceived notions.

Don’t put time limits on jobs. Unless you’re psychic, how could you possibly know how things will work out? A new job is an adventure. It could be a defining experience of you life, or it could be a horror-story chapter you’d like to forget.

So play it loose. Jobs, like people, are unpredictable. Avoid preconceived notions. Do your homework and have a plan, yet be open-minded and ready to abort if things should work out in an unexpected way.

Here are six components of a great job:

  1. Company is a high-profile industry leader. If the company has a great name and reputation, by association you have immediate recognition by merely working there.
  2. Excellent people. Combine a high-profile company with the opportunity to work with talented people, and you have a chance to learn and contribute in a stimulating environment. Now you know you why the best and brightest techies on the planet would just about kill to land a job at Microsoft.
  3. Training opportunities. Training, whether on or off the job, amounts to a powerful incentive for taking a job.
  4. Good pay and benefits. Salary isn’t the whole picture, but it’s certainly important. It’s nice to enjoy three squares a day and be able to afford to pay your mortgage, but it’s also nice to earn enough to buy cars, boats and planes. Nothing wrong with dreaming.
  5. Enlightened management. Every company thinks it has an incredible management team. But if you actually get the real deal, you’ve truly lucked out.
  6. Excellent promotional opportunities and regular performance appraisals. Whether it’s a large, midsize or small company, you want one that’s committed to recognizing and promoting talent.

Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.

| Troy Media

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