I speak with dozens of professional accountants every day about their jobs: what they like, dislike, what their goals and aspirations are, what they will tolerate, what they won’t, how they want to grow professionally, what additional training and courses they want to take, what personal and family commitments they have, what they do in their spare time, and what their passions are.
Here is what I have found. I appreciate that this goes against a lot of theses out there with titles like “Find Your Calling” and “Follow Your Heart” and “If You Love Your Job, You’ll Never Work Another Day in Your Life.”
Most people – I repeat – most people I speak to are not currently working in a job they are passionate about…and that’s okay. A lot of people don’t even know what their dream job would be. And those that do find a job that was previously the stuff of dreams, it sometimes turns out not to be as good as they anticipated.
Let me tell you a story. I remember sitting in the lobby of a hotel with a candidate of mine who was starting to look for a new job. He was a Chartered Accountant (CA) with a passion for sports. He said to me, “if you could find me a job working for [a professional sports team], that would be my dream job!” A few months later, through his own network, he got the job! Great, right? Except that the work environment was stressful and his boss was very difficult to work with. He ended up quitting his job within a few months without another job to go to…his dream job turned out to be a nightmare.
I’ll use myself as another example. When I was the typical CA/auditor/tax accountant, what I enjoyed most about my job was dealing and consulting with my clients and peers, not the daily audit and tax work. While searching for something enjoyable and challenging that would tap into my preferred skill set, I stumbled upon recruiting. My work as a recruiter is something that I really enjoy. I work with great clients, I work for a company with amazing people, and I’m compensated based on how hard I work. Sure, it is risky and a lot of accountants wouldn’t give up the stability of a regular pay check to work largely on commission. But, I get to talk to the decision makers of companies all day about finance, tax and accounting and then improve their lives and the lives of my candidates by making the right match between the two. I am essentially an “eHarmony” for accountants, and the many successful professional marriages I’ve officiated speaks to the fun and success I’ve experienced thus far.
Now, obviously there are examples of very successful people “following their dreams” and “making it big.” But, for the most part, it’s not that simple. People weigh a number of different factors about their job in their assessment of “living the dream.” Do they like the company? Do they like their boss? Do they believe in the company’s product? Are they fairly compensated for what they do? Does the money they make allow them to do all of things they want to do outside of work? Are they able to spend enough time with their kids and/or family?
If following your passion means that you might not see a paycheck for a few years, is it worth the risk? Perhaps you stay in your current VP Finance or Tax Manager role that challenges you, pays you well, provides you with the flexibility you want and allows you to work with a great group of people – even if it’s not the role you find yourself daydreaming about.
As a recruiter, part of what I do is to find my candidates the best job I can by weighing all of the different factors that come into play. If I find my candidate a job where she loves the company and the team, but they pay her peanuts, should she go? Alternatively, if she currently works for a company where colleagues engage in unethical practices or she doesn’t get along with her boss, but they pay her millions per year, should she stay?
I’m not saying your “dream job” isn’t out there. I’m just saying, don’t pass up on really good jobs that make you happy for a dream job that might not.