In Search of the Whale - Finding The Perfect Job
26 August 2015
“Call me Ishmael” - Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
One of the greatest books written of all time is Herman Melvilles classic Moby Dick. Now the story, for those who have not read it, is the retelling of Captain Ahabs quest to hunt down the titular sperm whale, Moby Dick. The background to the story is that Captain [Ishmael] Ahab had previously encountered the whale and during a sea battle with it, lost his leg and ship.
The story follows Ahabs insatiable quest, where he is consumed with blinkered hatred, following his as he hunts the beast down and tries to exact revenge.
All of us, at some time in our lives, have had those feelings of wanting to stubbornly pursue something that is unlikely that we will ever achieve. For many of us, the perfect, incredibly well paid job is our metaphorical Moby Dick.
Throughout the book, there are plenty of signs that Ahab is on a path to self destruction but his doggedness for revenge condemns all of those around him. And there is a very real danger that to a lesser extent, that you might have your Ahab moment when it comes to work. Let me explain.
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” ― Herman Melville, Moby Dick
When people are “grim about the mouth”, they start looking for that next role. My role, as a recruiter, is to put suitable candidates forward for suitable roles and in front of potential employers. And the majority of those candidates will receive an offer from these employers in due course. Now if the recruitment process always ended on this beautiful note, it would be wonderfully simple…..
“for there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men ” ― Herman Melville, Moby Dick
The biggest issue for the recruitment industry today is not the securing of offers but actually getting people to accept them. And this can be down to a number of reasons. One of the most common “madness of men” is to accept a counter offer (being offered more money by your current employer). This is the biggestmadness of them all. Money will not hide all of the other issues that got you looking for that new role in the first place. And the relationship with your current employer will be damaged by holding them to ransom for more money. It is no wonder that 80%+ of people who are counter-offered leave within 6 months.
“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.” ― Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Now on to the main reason for the article and the biggest challenge to accepting a job offer. “The everlasting itch”. The belief that there is a better job out there. The hunt for the proverbial whale. Now the truth of the matter is that 9 times out of 10, there is a better job out there. It could BE money. It is most likely a better, healthier work environment, whether that be due to respect, seniority, duties of the role or whatever – it is probably better. Better? Most definitely. But perfect? Unlikely.
I have talked before about being happy at work (click here), but is it enough to move to a job that isn’t perfect? Well the unhappy truth is that no job is truly perfect. But most can be pretty close. What you need to do is think about what is truly important about your next role. Pick a top 3 wish list and prioritise what will get you to move. What is it that will make your job closer to perfect? Don’t go chasing the dream job that ticks every single box. Because you might just pass a role that will become perfect over time.
“...to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.” ― Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Moby Dick ends with the titular whale disappearing beneath the waves and Ahab, the only survivor, drifting on a piece of wood (ironically a coffin), eventually rescued by a passing ship (“The Rachel”). He chased his nemesis and lost everything through his pursuit and eventually didn’t achieve his goal. Well I am [the] Rachel in this story, here to rescue you from your dogged pursuit of the unachievable. Don’t pass up great opportunities in search of something that you will never get.
Unfortunately, I have seen too often candidates turn down roles, only for them to return with regret several weeks later, once the opportunity has disappeared beneath the waves.
Recruiters are here to help you find that role. You don’t have to take the role if it genuinely isn’t right but before you reject that offer, make sure that you have truly thought about what you really want and take the plunge.
The key to moving job really is simple. Be honest with yourself and choose what your ideal job looks like. But also decide at what stage towards that ideal that you are in a better role than your current one.
I will leave you with another nautical based quote that sums up this blog which encapsulates the seizing of the day/ job.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Written By Adam Davey