The “cool” jobs always dominate the discussion among the media, career changers and proud parents. These are the jobs that sound incredibly interesting. Whether they are or not is a separate discussion. These are the jobs that require perfect grades and a resume full of saving orphans and previous “cool” jobs. These are the jobs that provide big salaries, free food and hot tub access. And, it’s nearly impossible to land one of these jobs.
The location of the cool job changes over time. Earlier renditions of a cool job included being a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, an investment banker at a big New York firm, a consultant at McKinsey or Accenture, a sales rep at IBM, a game designer at Atari or any job at Microsoft to name a few. Working at any of these companies is still cool but bordering on normal. Today, the cool jobs means that you work at Google, Facebook, Instagram, or Apple. (Apple seems to always stay on the cool list.) The cool list is not limited to these tech companies but the same criteria for cool applies: high pay, stock options, benefits galore and impossible to get.
Try for those jobs if you want, and good on those who work at the cool places. But that is not where the world of work begins and ends. Great jobs and careers are everywhere and we need to move away from the sense that everything is second tier compared to the “cool” jobs.
I met recently with a recruiter from a public utility. The positions that are open there have the same titles as those in the cool places and provide competitive salary and benefits. In looking at any website for jobs, the thousands of jobs listed can be challenging, interesting and provide a sense of worth. Typically, the positions at the cool places are not on these websites. All the public good positions are no less important than those at Google. Consider positions in teaching, health care and service to others to name a few. The research always shows that the people most satisfied with their jobs are in service. The two careers that are always at the top of the most satisfied list are firefighters and special education teachers.
My message is that there is an enormous world of interesting jobs and the world doesn’t end with a rejection letter from Facebook. Make sure you explore the entire world of interesting things to do. Finding a rewarding position can be like choosing a college. Choosing a college is about the best fit, not the best place to which you were admitted. Fit is just as important in choosing a place to work.
Someone told me recently that they had applied for a position at Apple. I knew that this person’s background did not augur well for such a position there. When he said, “maybe they need someone who is not perfect”, I agreed, but I was channeling Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber when, told that his chances were one in a million, he declared, “so you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
So, job seeker, go where the odds are better. Go where you will be fulfilled. Go where you fit. Go where you are wanted. Don’t go where you feel like a fraud.
If everyone worked at Google, the world would be a pretty dull place.