Whoa Nelly: Job Hunting on a High Horse

Job hunting is a difficult process, and today I’m feeling exasperated and a little sorry for myself.  My current company brought me on board to work on a specific project that will be finished at the end of August.  After that, I’ll likely be unemployed unless I can land another job in the meantime.  It’s not exactly news that there are very few jobs available in the current economy.  Unfortunately, there are even fewer available to me because I have an aversion to working for many companies and industries.  Being on my moral high horse throughout this job search is starting to make me saddle sore.

I’ll admit that I might be taking the moral high ground to the point of being obnoxious (and possibly self destructive if it means ending up unemployed).  But there are certain industries I just will not work in: oil, tobacco, and gambling, for example.  The problem is that I work in sales and marketing.  To do my job properly, I must convince people to buy my employer’s products, preferably in large quantities and with great frequency.  I feel strongly that people and businesses should be trying to reduce their oil consumption, so how could I work for an oil company?  Using tobacco products and gambling is hazardous and a terrible waste of money, so how can I promote these types of products?

The sales and marketing thing bothers me even when it comes to more socially acceptable products and industries.  I hesitate to work for consumer products companies (like clothing, electronics, home goods, etc.) because I would feel guilty about trying to convince people to spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need.  It seems hypocritical for someone who has a blog called HotFrugal to develop a marketing campaign for products that are expensive and total non-necessities. 

If I worked in a field like accounting, operations, or human resources, I don’t think I would have these moral qualms.  I wouldn’t be actively promoting and selling products, so I would have some distance from the responsibility of influencing people’s buying decisions.  The truth is, I actually love being involved in sales and helping people make smart buying decisions.  I have a real passion for B2B (business to business) marketing, and I’m pretty damn good at it.  When I help customers figure out the best solutions for their problems, it makes me feel great.  I love knowing that I have helped customers make their companies stronger so that they can better serve their customers.

Unfortunately, there just aren’t many B2B marketing jobs available in industries that won’t make me feel icky.

There are a lot of good people who work in the industries I have issues with, including many of my friends.  I certainly don’t judge them or condemn them for the jobs they have.  The fact that I have made my financial philosophy so public puts me in a different position.  The last thing I ever want to be is a hypocrite.  It’s human nature to be hypocritical, and I’m sure I have done and will do things that are inconsistent with my frugal philosophy.  But I would prefer to make those mistakes accidentally, not consciously choose to do something that goes against what I’ve preached.

The self imposed restrictions in my job hunt are certainly not the only reasons I haven’t been able to find a job.  It doesn’t help that I’ve been limiting my search geographically so that I can stay near my friends and family.  I haven’t even considered working for non-profits because I can’t afford to take a major cut in salary.  Even with these restrictions, there have been many “acceptable” jobs to which I’ve applied.  It just makes me frustrated that there are so few jobs available in the first place, and then I feel like I have to narrow the field even further.  I know I’m probably taking myself way too seriously, but I want to feel confident and dedicated to any job I have in the future.  It wouldn’t be fair to myself or my employer if I had reservations about the work I was being paid to do.

This post was kind of whiney, and I apologize for that.  I needed to do some venting, and I’ve gotten it out of my system.  Thanks for listening.  🙂



Filed under Money Philosophy

3 responses to “Whoa Nelly: Job Hunting on a High Horse

  1. Sara

    We all seek different things from our work and have different priorities. Everyone obviously wants to enjoy their jobs and have a sense of accomplishment, but for some people, work is just work. They don’t need to feel passionate about what they do, or even really engaged in the mission or ideology of the company. For others, and certainly for me, it’s really important for me to have work that matches my ideology. I place a high value on “believing” in what I do. I’d be willing to sacrifice other things for it. But I also realize that other people have different priorities. I don’t have a family to raise and my first priority doesn’t have to be salary or flexibility in my work schedule. For others, one of those things might be a priority and they might be willing to sacrifice ideology.

    Good post – I hope it generates some discussion.

  2. Zeb

    Very good post! So many people willingly put their morals on the shelf for the sake of a job. What does that say about their character(or lack of character) in general? If one does not feel passionate about a career, how can their thirst for success be quenched? How can they ever hope to obtain the intrinsic rewards that result from pursuing their happiness?

    I’ll close with a quote from one of my literary heroes, Howard Roark, which sums up his philosophy pertaining to passion for a career: “I do not build in order to have clients, I have clients so that I can build.”

  3. Kyle

    I can really relate to the conflict you’re experiencing. And I don’t think you’re wrong in avoiding companies or industries that promote values that aren’t your own. You’ll dislike it and you will have a harder time finding the success you desire in those organizations. Or worse, you may find success but compromise your personal passions.
    I wanted to ask a rhetorical question, more to open the internal dialogue with yourself than to start a debate. But first, please keep in mind that this is hypothetical and not meant to imply that you won’t find that perfect fit. Which of your self-imposed restrictions do you think is MOST important? LEAST important? If unemployment is the next best option, would you rather sacrifice your morals, or your proximity to home, or your desired compensation? Or is possible unemployment and patience for the right opportunity the best option? Just things I considered when I drew close to a similar choice. This is part of the reason you have an emergency fund. And maybe when you face those options, a temporary salary cut is preferable to good money and a guilty conscience.
    Glad you got that out, I’m confident that you will make something happen and feel stronger about your choices when all is said and done.

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