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My wife has a small business and has been looking to hire someone part time to full time for the last month or so. This is her Ad on Craigslist:

In the last month, she has received about 30 resumes. From stay at home moms trying to get back into the workforce to unemployed college graduates with degrees in sociology or public health, the resumes reflect some interesting trends.

The job pays anywhere from $12 to $14/hour depending on the experience and the employer is willing to train. It’s a part time job but my wife is willing to hire this person full time as long as the person is good.

So, here’s the interesting thing. Of the 10 candidates she has called, only 7 call back. Of those 7, she has asked only 5 people to come in for an interview. Of those 5 who are supposed to show up at an appointed time, only 2 actually show up. And when she has offered the job to a person, they change their mind and don’t accept. And even if the person accepts, two weeks later they quit citing that it’s not what they expected.

What is striking is the fact that most of them are currently NOT employed and haven’t been in the workforce for sometime. They are at home collecting unemployment in a lot of cases. It seems as if they would rather sit at home and collect unemployment than accept a job that doesn’t pay as well as their previous job, even though it could lead to something better.

One person called during the day of the interview to say she wasn’t coming in for the interview because she really doesn’t want to leave the house for a job that is less than 20 hours a week! Let me get this straight: You haven’t found a job and you’re being picky? What am I missing here? Why not show up and see what happens? Maybe she could have made a convincing argument for a full time position? At least give it a try. How long will she wait to find that perfect job?

What I’m realizing is that in this economic uncertainty, complexity and chaos, there may be people out there who are turning down jobs or not pursuing some jobs because of their high expectations. “It’s not enough hours” or “driving more than 30 minutes is too far for me” or “I’m making more on unemployment”. And I really cannot fault anyone for not accepting a job because I absolutely understand that we all have bills to pay and have mouths to feed so taking a job that doesn’t suit your life is perfectly ok. But at the end of the day, there are some jobs out there and they are not going to be the ones we are used to. Those jobs we expect and used to know may no longer exist.

What does it mean to me?

Sometimes I find myself having unrealistic and possibly high expectations about a lot of things including my own career. I have become comfortable with a now defunct career model: “Work hard, get promoted and you’ll do fine”. In order for me to embrace the chaos of work life today, I have to start to ADJUST MY EXPECTATIONS. The reality is that there is NO PERFECT JOB. There’s no perfect employer. No perfect boss. No perfect work. No permanent work. The concept of career progression, raises and sustained employment that I grew up with is no longer valid. We’re living in a new world order where anything can happen with a career or a job.

I believe that in this new economy and uncertain job climate, I have to press RESET on my own expectations. My thinking must reflect the new reality that I may not get everything I want in a job or a career. And that’s perfectly ok. What am I missing anyway? Really, what’s the big deal? I have to accept that I might not progress in my career as I expect to. But by adjusting my expectations and taking a chance on a new seemingly imperfect career path, I believe I can start feeling better about the chaos of life today. Now I know that I’ve got to at least kick the tires of something new and different. Try something. Anything. It may not have the same benefits or circumstances I have been accustomed to but who knows where it could lead.

And as I think about it, it was this mentality that I had when I first went out into the working world. I really had no expectations. I was just happy to have a job. Any job. I took chances on career paths which were not clear but I did great. I made lemonade when I was handed lemons no one else wanted. I made something significant out of a fairy menial job not much different than what is posted in the Craigslist ad. And ultimately as I look at the chaos all around me today, I start feeling hopeful and optimistic because by adjusting my expectations, I feel more prepared and open to new opportunities.

As a marketing guru, Frank Sonnenberg told me so many years ago when I graduated in a recession, “There may not be a lot of jobs out there. But you only need one”.

By Bob Miglani

Bob Miglani is the Author of the Washington Post Bestseller, Embrace the Chaos, which is about learning to move forward in times of change, uncertainty and disruption. He grew up running his family's Dairy Queen store, the subject of his first book, Treat Your Customers. He worked in corporate America for 23 years. Left to pursue a life of passion working in a startup, writing, motivational speaking and learning how to live a life of contribution.

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