Discover more from Figures
My working-definition of a "good job"
Monday 🩳 No. 2
The number and variety of jobs out there in the world is wacky. If you just look at the options for jobs currently open in the United States, you have over 11 million to choose from. Assuming you have to have a job, better aim for a good one.
I’ve been thinking about how we might categorize the good ones.
Because some percentage of this giant job pie are definitely not good.
Or maybe the proportions are more like this:
In defining which jobs are which, it’s easier to first consider aspects that are obviously bad: jobs that put you in danger, negatively impact your physical health, force you to undergo discrimination, harassment, abuse, unfair treatment, and so on.
I am going to place these in a big bucket called an unpleasant and unsafe work place.
A good job must not be that. It needs to at the very least provide a baseline of a safe and pleasant place to work.
Beyond this, the next thing people might want to know about is the job’s compensation.
The thing about this variable is that assuming the compensation is at or above the minimum wage, there is likely good jobs at every single compensation level. A good job for entry level workers, high school or college students, or others could very well be the minimum wage host/hostess role at the local restaurant. Sure, it pays little, but this job doesn’t yet require a ton of experience or skills to execute as its impact on society at large is fairly light.
A good job, I might argue, is compensated with respect to the value one contributes to society.
Note that I did not call this company value or shareholder value. It’s hard for me to get behind the company value argument unless that is value is aligned with society at large.
Charting these axes, we get a quad matrix of job distribution.
Good Jobs: well-compensated for the positive value they contribute; woo!
Pay Them More Jobs: potentially under-compensation wrt their value, especially those that contribute very positive value (could be teachers, social workers)
Not Good Jobs: not well-compensated and pointless/annoying/harmful (could be telemarketers, redundant administrative roles)
WTF Jobs: well-compensated for pointless to net-negative value (could be day traders, corporate lawyers, ad execs, oil execs, middle managers)
It’s from here that we can create some working-definition of what we want to see more of in the job market:
common noun modified by a common adjective; a loaded phrase
A subset of all jobs that satisfy the following three criteria:
Provides a pleasant and safe work environment
Contributes positive societal value
Adequately compensated for the value provide
Lastly, part of the frustration here is that I could end up in a job that satisfies the above three criteria yet still be unhappy, unfulfilled, frustrated, etc.
A good job for someone doesn’t mean it’s a good job for you or for me. With a slight modification, I might arrive to something like this:
good job (for me)
Satisfies the above 3 conditions, plus:
Has good personal fit (skills, mission, lifestyle, etc.)
Further discussion on the “WTF” category next week.
👖 Extend those shorts
Here’s a list of of things that could help you trace these ideas further. Let me know what you learn and find most interesting. Right now the effective altruism movement is playing a significant role in my views. You’ll see some ideas from that community surface here.
📝 “The highest-impact career paths our research has identified so far” from 80,000 Hours
📝 “Personal fit: why being good at your job is even more important than people think” from 80,000 Hours
Thanks for reading Figures! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.