There Is No Such Thing As A Meaningless Job: Why All Jobs Matter

I’m often asked where I come up with so much material and how I’m tied into the current zeitgeist of issues affecting people. I’d like to say that I’m so smart, but that's not really the case. In my recruiting practice, I’m fortunate enough to come into contact with dozens of intelligent and accomplished professionals every day. They freely share their stories and experiences and many want me to write about them—so others could gain from their trials, tribulations and successes. 

Today, for example, while discussing how he felt trapped in his job, an experienced professional who is in a high-level role at a reputable institution, turned me onto a concept. He told me about an anthropologist-turned-professor at the London School of Economics, David Graeber, who coined the term and wrote a best-selling book entitled Bullshit Jobs. 

Graeber’s theory is that the vast majority of people, including office workers, administrators, management consultants, telemarketers, corporate attorneys, public relations and others are wasting their lives in meaningless, unnecessary jobs. He contends that the people in these jobs know that it's bullshit and are professionally unsatisfied and spiritually bankrupt. Graeber contends that corporate lawyers and others feel that if their jobs no longer existed, no one would notice or care and the world would be a better place. He takes it a step further and argues that these people become psychologically damaged.

I think it's a condescending theory crudely designed to capitalize on the scatalogical title. It's presumptuous for an anthropologist-turned-professor to call out someone else's pointless job.

He calls out lawyers for being in a futile job, but when one is able to help a client avoid serious peril, the attorney is a hero and the most important person in the world to his client. A tax accountant will be derided by the professor, but when you are able to fight back against the IRS and reap a large contested refund, she is awesome.

I think the real issue isn't so much as a trivial job, but being stuck at a certain level while desiring to advance. Some people are content having a reasonably challenging job and collecting a fair paycheck that takes care of the necessities—and then some. Others desire to pursue ever-growing challenges, as it keeps them sharp. If they’re stuck where they are, it's torture to them. When people are unable to grow professionally and intellectually, it's a big problem. When professionals possess talents that are not utilized, they feel stuck in the muck of work. These are the real reasons that people are unhappy. 

If you’re a tax accountant, it could be exciting to figure out ways to help clients save money. With their skills, they will earn a great living and fund a wonderful life for themselves. As they improve and get better at it, they’ll earn more money and become even happier. It's like playing a game that you’re good at. It's exciting and fun to do. If you’re not doing something challenging and mired in place, it's like a race car stuck in idle.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

According to Graeber, Warren Buffett would be in a meaningless job because he’s just shuffling around stocks. At 80-plus years of age, he’s alert, motivated, happy and excited about buying stocks and making money for his investors. Any athlete could be accused of being in a worthless job—hitting a ball with a bat or throwing a round object into a net or tapping a tiny ball into a hole. For these athletes and their fans, the acts are exhilarating.  

People are happiest when they can continually learn and grow in their jobs and careers. Knowing that you’re heading into an upward trajectory is important for your mental well-being. A job could be a temporary port until the waves take you to a better place. Just because you’re not curing cancer shouldn’t define your job as pointless. If you take pride, ownership and a sense of purpose in what you do, then it's important and not meaningless at all. Take any job, and if you look at without any cynicism, you could find a way to view it as important and contributing toward the greater good.

People can take pride in their jobs no matter what they do. Yes, there will be days—even months—when you feel that your job is worthless, but at the very least, there will always be a small moment when you know that you’re making a difference.

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I’m often asked where I come up with so much material and how I’m tied into the current zeitgeist of issues affecting people. I’d like to say that I’m so smart, but that's not really the case. In my recruiting practice, I’m fortunate enough to come into contact with dozens of intelligent and accomplished professionals every day. They freely share their stories and experiences and many want me to write about them—so others could gain from their trials, tribulations and successes. 

Today, for example, while discussing how he felt trapped in his job, an experienced professional who is in a high-level role at a reputable institution, turned me onto a concept. He told me about an anthropologist-turned-professor at the London School of Economics, David Graeber, who coined the term and wrote a best-selling book entitled Bullshit Jobs. 

Graeber’s theory is that the vast majority of people, including office workers, administrators, management consultants, telemarketers, corporate attorneys, public relations and others are wasting their lives in meaningless, unnecessary jobs. He contends that the people in these jobs know that it's bullshit and are professionally unsatisfied and spiritually bankrupt. Graeber contends that corporate lawyers and others feel that if their jobs no longer existed, no one would notice or care and the world would be a better place. He takes it a step further and argues that these people become psychologically damaged.

I think it's a condescending theory crudely designed to capitalize on the scatalogical title. It's presumptuous for an anthropologist-turned-professor to call out someone else's pointless job.

He calls out lawyers for being in a futile job, but when one is able to help a client avoid serious peril, the attorney is a hero and the most important person in the world to his client. A tax accountant will be derided by the professor, but when you are able to fight back against the IRS and reap a large contested refund, she is awesome.

I think the real issue isn't so much as a trivial job, but being stuck at a certain level while desiring to advance. Some people are content having a reasonably challenging job and collecting a fair paycheck that takes care of the necessities—and then some. Others desire to pursue ever-growing challenges, as it keeps them sharp. If they’re stuck where they are, it's torture to them. When people are unable to grow professionally and intellectually, it's a big problem. When professionals possess talents that are not utilized, they feel stuck in the muck of work. These are the real reasons that people are unhappy. 

If you’re a tax accountant, it could be exciting to figure out ways to help clients save money. With their skills, they will earn a great living and fund a wonderful life for themselves. As they improve and get better at it, they’ll earn more money and become even happier. It's like playing a game that you’re good at. It's exciting and fun to do. If you’re not doing something challenging and mired in place, it's like a race car stuck in idle.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

According to Graeber, Warren Buffett would be in a meaningless job because he’s just shuffling around stocks. At 80-plus years of age, he’s alert, motivated, happy and excited about buying stocks and making money for his investors. Any athlete could be accused of being in a worthless job—hitting a ball with a bat or throwing a round object into a net or tapping a tiny ball into a hole. For these athletes and their fans, the acts are exhilarating.  

People are happiest when they can continually learn and grow in their jobs and careers. Knowing that you’re heading into an upward trajectory is important for your mental well-being. A job could be a temporary port until the waves take you to a better place. Just because you’re not curing cancer shouldn’t define your job as pointless. If you take pride, ownership and a sense of purpose in what you do, then it's important and not meaningless at all. Take any job, and if you look at without any cynicism, you could find a way to view it as important and contributing toward the greater good.

People can take pride in their jobs no matter what they do. Yes, there will be days—even months—when you feel that your job is worthless, but at the very least, there will always be a small moment when you know that you’re making a difference.

I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of profes...