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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unable to Hold a Job

Hat Tip: Thank you rosie for sending this over. Rosie noted that the commentor advice in the piece I am about to link to, for the most part, leaned towards the practical. Such is a note that I don't want to ignore, although I am going to take this in a completely different direction that I'm sure is expected.

There is a letter from a wife on the COLLive.com website regarding her husband, and so many like her husband, that are unemployed, perpetually. The letter is a sad read on so many levels. Particularly sad is the wife's desire to medicate the anxiety that she feels after so many years. The anxiety is naturally increased by the family living above their means, even if they lack the many things mentioned in the article from pricier food to cleaning help (prime example of living above their means: tuition and upcoming weddings mentioned). Probably what is most depressing about the letter is that we all know (good) people who have a terrible job history.

In fact, I spoke to one gentlemen during my dating years who showed the same symptoms, but I ran the other way when I asked about his job history (flame away if you may!). In his 10 years of employment, he had never stayed at a single job for more than a year plus a month or two max! I could see that there was an underlying disease, manifested by the symptom of continually quitting jobs before others in the office would even know he existed. Since he was still single going on 30, the issue was a red flag for me. But at 21, 22, or even 23 years of age, I'm not quit certain how such an issue could be easily noted. The letter writer does not see the disease clearly, but I have highlighted her closest guess, amongst many, as to what the issue is in the excerpt below:

By the time the year [of kollel] was over, we had our beautiful first born. And so with the expenses of a child already and childcare (because I was working), he took whatever dumb job came his way. A job where he did not really learn any skills, did not really make any contacts – the job just paid the bills, and we couldn’t spend on anything beyond the basics. And then he quit that one, got another dumb job, again without skills and contacts. And so our life progressed through the years. B"H more children, other dumb jobs, never being able to spend on anything extra. He never went to school or took courses because he was always so overworked from his job and helping at home with the kids.

[skipping further down] He’s a good man. He is willing to work. But he doesn’t seem to be able to get decent paying jobs. He doesn’t really seem to have the know-how (or the resources) to start a business on his own. I don’t know if it is that he doesn’t present well at job interviews. Or he doesn’t have skills that the decent paying jobs require. Or he doesn’t have the initiative or ambition to really pull off a decent salary. Or he doesn’t look in the right places. Or he doesn’t network with the right people. Bottom line is he doesn’t bring in enough money for even our simple lifestyle. And so now recently, he lost his job again. And we are trying to live from my check and his unemployment check. And with this economy, and his lack of marketable skills, our high expenses, and at this point, his low confidence in himself, he isn’t finding
anything.

While many of the commentators mention the need for education and marketable skills (two important components of developing a career), I don't believe that the main issue for those who suffer from perpetual unemployment (mostly caused by QUITTING one job after another, no matter how "dumb" the job is) lies in the lack of education, networking, or marketable skills. I know janitors who have been with the same employer for decades, and I know PhDs who have left their jobs and flounder about aimlessly.

What I see is an underlying dissatisfaction with life in general, perhaps caused by depression. Sometimes I see a streak of entitlement. I see a hint of this above in calling the jobs "dumb". What could possibly be dumb about working and providing a service for an employer and others? The largest issue I see is the inability to cope: The inability to cope with one's own emotions, the inability to cope with other people, and the inability to cope with frustration, disappointment, and adversity.

Where a person has a clear history of quitting one job after another, I'm fairly certain that the solution is NOT education (either vocational or graduate), starting one's own business (doing what I'm not sure), or networking/job assistance (let's not forget that taking on a new employee is an investment that a business makes and that no investor wants a negative ROI). In fact, college itself can be used as a means of avoiding problems. Suggesting education for a person with such a job history may very possibly fall under the category of a "throw money at it solution".

Beyond any possible medical intervention that might be recommended (I'm no doctor, so I won't discuss such), I believe the first step for a person with a such a job history is to find and hold a job for an extended period of time, ideally within the 3-5 years period. It would be nice to find a job where the husband can develop some skills, but skilled or unskilled, I think the real flaw here is that a resume that shows job after job screams, I am unable to adapt to the workplace!

Employers do not "give" away jobs (and the sooner the frum world realizes this, the better off we will be). Employers "invest" in employees. The key to being able to get that next job after a less than stellar job history (whether you have no skills or a hold a PhD in Aeronautics) is to demonstrate commitment, the ability to function in the workplace, and some initiative and ambition. I believe that the solution to changing this problem is to get one's foot in the door and stick it out through thick and thin in an attempt to make the resume tell a better, or at least neutral, story.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

SL: She mentions an unemployment check, so I assume he got laid off or fired. You don't usually get unemployment if you quit. As for prior jobs, it was very unclear to me how many jobs were lost because of being let go, and how many because he quit.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-At the very least, know that in writing this post I had intended to acknowledge more clearly that this job loss was one of being laid off.

That said, the writer to COLLive very clearly talked about quitting dumb jobs and there is a poor employment history.

If, chas v'shalom, my husband were to loose his job of 10 years, his method of securing employment would be different than someone with 10 jobs in 10 years.

My main point is that this problem doesn't appear to be a skills issue (although there is that too), but a job history problem.

Different solutions for different issues.

JS said...

I feel like I see letter after letter with the exact same problem. On another blog talking about yeshiva tuition, the terms used may be different, but, again, comment after comment says the same thing.

There's just a deep dissatisfaction that people have with life. Things just didn't turn out the way they expected them to. I think it's even worse for these people because they feel that they did everything "right" - they did it by the book, they did everything their rabbis, morot, advisors, and communities told them to do.

For this couple it was no education, kollel year right after getting married, having a kid in that 1st year, then going to work, and having lots more kids. For the self-named "chumps" on that other blog it was getting married young, having kids while in grad school, moving to an expensive area, and having an under-employed or part-time employed wife.

In both cases the couples feel wronged and cheated that they met every community expectation and yet still can't get ahead in life. This couple bounces from "dumb job" to "dumb job" and the "chumps" make $200k or more a year and can't get by - they pay full tuition of maybe $60k and have no savings.

In both cases, I think the solution is the same. Stop doing what everyone is expecting you to do. Stop giving in (consciously or subconsciously) to the peer pressure and the social expectations. Take a step back and realize the very real cause of your misery.

Obviously it would have been better if they did this ages ago - before they rushed into having kids, for example. But, there are things that can be done now. It's not too late. The husband can try to start a career instead of just looking for a job. He can get training in skills he lacks. For the chumps, they can seek out lower cost schooling options, for example.

But, doing the same thing day in and day out, year in and year out while only meeting with failure is just pure insanity. Get the hint that it's not working and that a new approach is needed.

In every case like this it's so easy to spot just one little thing that if the couple had done things differently, they'd be in a completely different situation. It's often just one tiny mistake that escalates and snowballs because they keep repeating the mistake and don't rectify it. But, the people are often so close to the problem they either don't see it, or feel it's too painful or difficult to change.

The husband here likely feels he's a hopeless case (his wife seems to think so) and is just destined to be a nobody - he's too old for training or a career. It's only so if you keep acting like it is. The chumps are all just afraid of change and being different from everyone else.

Sigh.

rosie said...

I sent the link.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the husband can approach Jewish owned businesses in their area and explain his situation. Many of our Kollel boys are bright and their Torah learning can be applied to dealing honestly with people in the business world.
Bubby Tova

Orthonomics said...

Thank you rosie.

Bubby Tova--Relying on the community is another issue that has got so many into this mess. A a whole, we need a more diversified workforce, with less people reliant on community for jobs.

That said, the problem is the same in or out of the frum world. Why would a Jewish-owned business *invest* in an employee with a less than stellar resume? You are falling into the same trap that I mentioned in my post. You seem to believe that businesses "give" jobs. They don't! They invest in people they believe will help them create wealth and employ people who fill certain requirements to keep the place operating. A flawed resume does not inspire confidence, even if they learned in kollel.

thegameiam said...

As a young man, I was a complete screw-up, and I had had dozens of jobs by age 22. What finally got me to stop quitting jobs when I got frustrated was when I began dating the woman who became my wife: I realized that this behavior would really disappoint her, and she would be unlikely to be willing to be with me.

So, I'd boil that down to a matter of proper motivation. I wanted to make myself good enough to be worth the affection of the woman whose affection I sought. Until I had this motivation, I lived a scrape-by existence, and looked down my nose at entry-level work (even though I did it).

B"H, my intended inspired me to work hard and apply a lot more stick-to-itiveness, and I've been able to move into a successful career which pays well (network engineering - although my first couple of jobs were poorly paid and unpleasant). One thing that helped was my father telling me a good thing to remind myself: "so this is what it takes."

In the case of the letter-writer, the husband seems insufficiently motivated to better his lot. Perhaps a teachable moment we can derive from this is that we need to make sure that in raising young men, we inculcate the value of being a provider for a family - they need to be reminded that "by the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread." I fear that the emphasis on the kollel lifestyle has done great harm to the traditionally masculine virtues of work and providing for a family.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this post in Freakenomics about the difference between donations in Chrisian Churches and in Synagogues

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/churches-versus-synagogues-voluntary-donations-versus-dues/

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

FYI, a PhD in Aeronautics (we have one in our beit midrash) has enough education and research experience to work in engineering or physics. Our guy is a pretty handy carpenter, too.

'Dumb jobs'. C'mon, many of us have had mind-numbing jobs that gave no intellectual satisfaction. I remember cleaning construction sites on summers off from school. Of course, that taught me I'd better learn to do some things that I like to do!

What gets me is this poor woman doesn't see how much of this depends on her husband's unwillingness to stay with one job (as you noted, there are plenty of janitors who work to retirement and benefits), and lack of determination to do better. I have to say, my wife wouldn't be so charitable. And she'd be right. Our immigrant grandparents worked at anything, 'whatever it takes', to pay the bills and create better opportunities for their children. Oh, wait - they insisted their children get educations and/or professional training. That's why my illiterate grandmother and self-taught grandfather had 3/4 of their kids go to college, and 100 % of their grandchildren (all employed, baruch Hashem).

Your solution/conclusion is right on; but it presupposes that this fellow take full responsibility for his predicament and his family's predicament. Maybe if the wife stops cutting him slack...

Miami Al said...

This is a total collapse of values and cultural rot, pure and simple. As JS pointed out, it is absolutely the same on the $200k Chump blog of doctors and lawyers, despite incomes of $200k-$300k. There is the same lack of responsibility, and lack of planning.

Want to know how to be rich? Spend less than you earn, let the amount compound.

Want to know how to be poor? Spend more than you earn, let the debt compound.

There are plenty of details that will help with earnings, and plenty of ways to control costs. However, as long as people are expected culturally to be broke, they will be.

Look, if you are going to be unmotivated and boring, better to go to college and law school first... but shlepper lawyers make $60k-$80k... guess what, you can make that kind of money WITHOUT going to college.

Firefighters, Police Officers, Military NCOs, etc. all earn reasonable salaries AND can start there careers without college (NCOs make less, but they get housing). None are "frum" careers, but all are career paths that an Orthodox Jew can hold if they are willing to work hard and adapt to the culture around them.

However, as more and more of the Orthodox World adopts "Frum" culture -- different attire, different language (Yeshivish is a broken poor person dialect of English), different attitude, different cultural references... we're looking like 1st generation immigrants... our grand/great-grand parents all took menial jobs, but they were the first generation.

There is no reason that I know someone in my extended social circle whose mother went to an Ivy League school for undergrad/graduate school, they they didn't go to college... the mom turned rightward, and they went to an anti-college Yeshiva.

This is silly.

The black leadership is starting to call out this sort of behavior, as the entitlement leaders of the 60s retire. When will new Jewish leadership come up that doesn't do this?

Avi said...

I know SL read this letter differently, but I assumed that they are living as lean as possible a lifestyle and that the husband was laid off multiple times, not that he quit. With that as a background, my diagnosis is that the husband is still suffering from going to kollel instead of getting employer-valuable education or training. Then, he compounded a lack of foresight with inaction, as he hasn't done anything to correct the situation in the 15 - 20 years since then. He's been unable to train for anything when he's unemployed because he has the high fixed expenses of a large family and has taken whatever he can find as quickly as he can find it. I understand that. He's been unable to train for anything while he is employed because he's a "good man" who spends time with his family and going to shiurim rather than night school. That sounds admirable, and I'm not knocking shiurim, family time, or even kollel per se, but the net effect is that he can't support his family and his wife is heading for a nervous breakdown.

But what really worries me is that he has not developed any appreciable skill set on his own or worked his way up from his "dumb" jobs. Perhaps that's just bad luck -- some dead-end jobs truly are dead-end jobs -- but more likely it indicates that he doesn't know how to make the best out of what jobs he has and create opportunities for himself. That means that if he does not acquire a really strong, distinct and marketable skill set, he's doomed never to rise above where he is now.

Anonymous said...

lose not loose

Anonymous said...

Avi: I read the letter the same way you did. I would also note that since the writer obviously is Lubavitch, I doubt there was a "kollel lifestyle" since I think they only do kollel for one year. He got caught in a system that forbids/strongly discourages higher education, waiting for marriage and children, etc. So, you have to be that much better than the average Joe to make it. I think there are changes in Chabad that recognize young men need education/job training and that not everyone is going to be a schliach with a chabad house.

What they also need are programs for the 30 and 40 somethings to retool. People tend to think of 40 as too old to learn a new trade. That mind set needs to change. Most people now that age are going to have to work until 70, so there is plenty of time for that training/education to pay off. I know someone who went back to school (community college) and got her LPN at age 55. I know someone else who although at college grad at age 22 did not use her degree and went back to school at 50 to get a doctorate in education and became a public school administator (good pay and a pension). The problem doing that is if you need money now to support children its very hard to spend on your own education/job training.

Anonymous said...

I do think some people can really have a string of bad luck, which leads to more bad luck. (i.e. getting laid off leads to taking a dead end job just to have some income, leads to getting laid off as the low man on the totem pole, leads to bad resume, etc.)
I also think there is no such thing as a "dumb job." All jobs have value and worth.
We also have to recognize that while everyone should be given the opportunity/make the opportunity to reach their potential, we are not so special that we are not going to have a lot of median level earners - i.e. maxing out in the 30-40K range.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-noted my extra o in the comments. I know the difference. :)

Avi and Anonymous-I underlined the relevant section where the wife specifically mentioned quitting a job. This last one was a lay off, hence the unemployment. Even if there is a mixed history, the issue of holding a job surely cannot be related to skills. I know of shul janitors that have been at the job for decades! I have lived in a building where a low level maintence worker had been there for decades. I can almost guarantee you that if I walked into one of the neighborhood supermarkets where I grew up, I would know a checker or two.

There are two issues here. One is the lack of skills. In my opinion, the bigger issue is lack of any long term job history. Even if he develops those skills, the resume will still be problematic. Not so with the grocery checker who retrained or the janitor who developed another skill set because their resume testifies to commitment and staying power.

Anonymous said...

People need to understand that we are in a “new reality” as far as employment. Some of this is driven by the economy. But, some has been affected by technology. Unlike a generation or two ago, people need to realize that they will need to be adaptable and constantly update their skills and experience to stay competitive.

When I hear phrases like “Kollel Year” (or 2,3,4…..), it makes me cringe. Let’s contrast two populations who are entering a competitive workforce in 2009-2010:

Frum young men and women: thinking about shidduchim, living off of parents’ credit cards, shopping for Chassunah suits, hats, sheitels, Vort/Sheva Brachos outfits, bedroom sets, eating out and buying expensive kosher food, learning indefinitely, obtaining dubious Yeshiva/Seminary degrees, (maybe a part-time job with a frum-owned heimish company with flexible schedules, “kosher environments”, and 20-year old technology), taking a month off for Pesach, Succos, and the summer, only being able to live in certain neighborhoods/communities with certain schools and amenities, having kids, and buying Bugaboos and minivans

Everyone else: no family financial responsibilities, working their way through college, getting real degrees from colleges that people have heard of, being able to eat cheaply at McDonalds and Wendys, getting corporate internships and “hungry” to progress, not thinking about marriage and children until they can afford to support themselves, getting their first job with a recognizable company before age 23 using state-of-the-art systems and tools, accruing valuable experience and people skills, being able to work late Fridays and Saturdays, being able to live in any neighborhood, and being able to sleep on a futon in an apartment or in his/her parents’ basement.

So, which group is at a distinct advantage in the job market to get that professional job?

The answer at least for young people (for whom it is not too late) is obviously to re-think what is broken. The current state of affairs is not going to blow over in a year or two or three. There is a distinct sense of “entitlement” that if one does all of the right things, that “Parnassa will come”. Anyone on the front lines knows that is a distorted and inaccurate premise. People are thinking about real life way too late. The disrespect and disdain that the frum world has for secular studies and anyone outside of his/her narrowly defined frum-world, starting from very young ages has been counterproductive and will continue to be so.

People need to get started earlier and must realize that there is a concept called career progression which should consist of a series of “resume builders”. Working short-term assignments with frum-owned small businesses and organizations are resume killers.

Entitlement must be replaced with healthy ambition. Arrogance of frum Jews vis a vis other people has to be replaced with humility and respect. Otherwise, there is more to come.

It is great and appropriate for people to have a Rabbinic mentor along the way. However, people also need an independent professional mentor who is steeped in the given field. We get into trouble when that Rabbinic mentor oversteps his area of expertise (or is relied upon as such) and ends up giving bad advice or guidance that is not in touch with the current reality.

Anonymous said...

anonymous above signed her comment as Bubby Tova; it is not something I would have written and I usually sign as Bubby Tova...don't know how to solve this problem...I guess I'll just have to go as anonymous from now on...anyway, being a "frum business owner" ... it's hard to do a chesed for someone who doesn't seem to have the skills and work history you are looking for...as the blog poster wrote...employers "invest" in employees...she said it best.

Anonymous said...

People need to understand that we are in a “new reality” as far as employment. Some of this is driven by the economy. But, some has been affected by technology. Unlike a generation or two ago, people need to realize that they will need to be adaptable and constantly update their skills and experience to stay competitive.

When I hear phrases like “Kollel Year” (or 2,3,4…..), it makes me cringe. Let’s contrast two populations who are entering a competitive workforce in 2009-2010:

Frum young men and women: thinking about shidduchim, living off of parents’ credit cards, shopping for Chassunah suits, hats, sheitels, Vort/Sheva Brachos outfits, bedroom sets, eating out and buying expensive kosher food, learning indefinitely, obtaining dubious Yeshiva/Seminary degrees, (maybe a part-time job with a frum-owned heimish company with flexible schedules, “kosher environments”, and 20-year old technology), taking a month off for Pesach, Succos, and the summer, only being able to live in certain neighborhoods/communities with certain schools and amenities, having kids, and buying Bugaboos and minivans.

Everyone else: no family financial responsibilities, working their way through college, getting real degrees from colleges that people have heard of, being able to eat cheaply at McDonalds and Wendys, getting corporate internships and “hungry” to progress, not thinking about marriage and children until they can afford to support themselves, getting their first job with a recognizable company before age 23 using state-of-the-art systems and tools, accruing valuable experience and people skills, being able to work late Fridays and Saturdays, being able to live in any neighborhood, and being able to sleep on a futon in an apartment or in his/her parents’ basement.

So, which group is at a distinct advantage in the job market to get that professional job?

The answer at least for young people (for whom it is not too late) is obviously to re-think what is broken. The current state of affairs is not going to blow over in a year or two or three. There is a distinct sense of “entitlement” that if one does all of the right things, that “Parnassa will come”. Anyone on the front lines knows that is a distorted and inaccurate premise. People are thinking about real life way too late. The disrespect and disdain that the frum world has for secular studies and anyone outside of his/her narrowly defined frum-world, starting from very young ages has been counterproductive and will continue to be so.

People need to get started earlier and must realize that there is a concept called career progression which should consist of a series of “resume builders”. Working short-term assignments with frum-owned small businesses and organizations are resume killers.

Entitlement must be replaced with healthy ambition. Arrogance of frum Jews vis a vis other people has to be replaced with humility and respect. Otherwise, there is more to come.

It is great and appropriate for people to have a Rabbinic mentor along the way. However, people also need an independent professional mentor who is steeped in the given field. We get into trouble when that Rabbinic mentor oversteps his area of expertise (or is relied upon as such) and ends up giving bad advice or guidance that is not in touch with the current reality.

Anonymous said...

The wife may be looking at the best deal she is going to get, a husband with a bad job history and low level jobs. This may be a blessing in disguise. Why? If he were motivated, the husband could go nights to get a degree in a medical field. Once he was in a more lucrative career, he would gain confidence, once he gained confidence, he would realize that his wife was not the girl of his dreams, and he could now do better. He could divorce his wife and look for a new wife, among the many 30 something victims of the shidduch crisis. That he had 5 children would not be a drawback to the shidduch crisis victim second wife, who would have an excellent career of her own and more than ready to accept a less than ideal situation. So the wife who wrote, rather than being divorced, is in an unsatisfactory marriage. She could be worse off.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:37 - you don't get a "lucrative degree" in the medical field going to school at night. You maybe get certified as a medical assistant or a CNA that route and make 25-30K/year. The better "medical" field degrees for people who aren't going to get a 4 year degree require clinical components that usually are during the day. These would include training as an x-ray technician or respiratory therapist. These are decent, steady jobs, but not lucrative.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the gentleman should talk to his Rabbi and if recommended talk with a mental health professional to me. He sounds like he might be depressed and in need of help not ridicule.

Anonymous said...

People need to understand that we are in a "new reality" as far as
employment. Some of this is driven by the economy. But, some has been affected by technology. Unlike a generation or two ago, people need to realize that they will need to be adaptable and constantly update their skills and experience to stay competitive.

When I hear phrases like "Kollel Year" (or 2,3,4...), it makes me cringe. Let's contrast two populations who are entering a competitive workforce in
2009-2010:

Frum young men and women: thinking about shidduchim, living off of parents' credit cards, shopping for Chassunah suits, hats, sheitels, Vort/Sheva Brachos outfits, bedroom sets, eating out and buying expensive kosher food,
learning indefinitely, obtaining dubious Yeshiva/Seminary degrees, (maybe a part-time job with a frum-owned heimish company with flexible schedules, "kosher environments", and 20-year old technology), taking a month off for
Pesach, Succos, and the summer, only being able to live in certain
neighborhoods/communities with certain schools and amenities, having kids, and buying Bugaboos and minivans.

Everyone else: no family financial responsibilities, working their way
through college, getting real degrees from colleges that people have heard of, being able to eat cheaply at McDonalds and Wendys, getting corporate internships and "hungry" to progress, not thinking about marriage and
children until they can afford to support themselves, getting their first job with a recognizable company before age 23 using state-of-the-art systems and tools, accruing valuable experience and people skills, being able to
work late Fridays and Saturdays, being able to live in any neighborhood, and being able to sleep on a futon in an apartment or in his/her parents' basement.

So, which group is at a distinct advantage in the job market to get that professional job?


The answer at least for young people (for whom it is not too late) is obviously to re-think what is broken. The current state of affairs is not going to blow over in a year or two or three. There is a distinct sense of
"entitlement" that if one does all of the right things, that "Parnassa will come". Anyone on the front lines knows that is a distorted and inaccurate premise. People are thinking about real life way too late. The disrespect
and disdain that the frum world has for secular studies and anyone outside of his/her narrowly defined frum-world, starting from very young ages has been counterproductive and will continue to be so.

People need to get started earlier and must realize that there is a concept called career progression which should consist of a series of "resume builders". Working short-term assignments with frum-owned small businesses and organizations are resume killers.


Entitlement must be replaced with healthy ambition. Arrogance of frum Jews vis a vis other people has to be replaced with humility and respect. Otherwise, there is more to come.


It is great and appropriate for people to have a Rabbinic mentor along the way. However, people also need an independent professional mentor who is
steeped in the given field. We get into trouble when that Rabbinic mentor oversteps his area of expertise (or is relied upon as such) and ends up giving bad advice or guidance that is not in touch with the current reality.

Mark said...

Anon 7:43 - Entitlement must be replaced with healthy ambition.

YES!!!!

And that goes for the entire country!

sethg-prime said...

The vibe I am getting from this letter is that the wife doesn’t know why her husband quit or was fired from his various “dumb jobs”. This disturbs me: when I have problems in my job, I tell my wife about them. (Sometimes she responds by saying “maybe you should look for another job”.)

Anonymous said...

As someone who is in a similar situation as the husband described here; the reason no job ever lasts more then two or three years (with a year of unemployment in between)by me is simply because I HATE what I do. Although I'm very intellectual and have a masters degree , the bottom line is I would rather do menial work. But since society would not accept that:I hinted the above to my wife and parents many times and the horror on their faces convinced me that anything other then professional work is not an option,I stick at jobs that inevitably don't work out.

YoelB said...

the bottom line is I would rather do menial work

I used to know a guy who was in a men's group where most of the members were guys in the building trades, and who all had at least a masters degree in various fields (mostly arts and humanities, IIRC.)

By the way, I hope you mean manual, not menial; if you really do mean you'd rather do menial work, you probably can't support a family that way. Get some help. Soon. Otherwise, you're making the same confusion your wife and parents are making: manual/skilled trade jobs are definitely not menial.
Lech lecha, tell your wife you're going to spend the next 2 years getting training X, respectfully tell your parents to back off – and prove them all wrong by actually getting your training and getting a decent job.
Community colleges where I live have training in CAD/CAM, auto mechanics, building trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, welding and so on. Now some of those can be done, at least part of the programs, in the evenings. That's because they're set up for people who (I hope like you,) you know, have a j.o.b. and want a better one.
You should be matzliach.

Leah Goodman said...

To me, it sounds like the guy needs counseling, and I don't mean career counseling.

When I was in college, I got involved in a lot of short-term projects. I participated in experiments. I worked packaging cds. I worked punching numbers into a system. I waitressed (just once - it was a Bobby McFerrin concert... so it was an incredible experience. I babysat. I learned something useful at EVERY single job. I didn't move up every time, but over the years, I've been gradually moving up the food chain work-wise.

If job after job is at the same low-level, then there's something wrong with the person, and education and a new career isn't going to change that.

Ariella said...

It's not merely a matter of education or even skill but also of attitude. One can look down at the "dumb job" and blame it for being a dead end or see it as an opportunity to earn income to support one's family and then come up with a plan to better the situation in future. True, the economy may get in the way of the plan, but it sounds like this pattern of behavior was set even before the downturn. Many men expect to step out of kollel into jobs that pay salaries in the 60-80K range. In fact, many rebbes do earn that much and even more, according to the disclosures of some boys' schools I know. But currently jobs demanding college graduates with 2 years of solid experience in skilled work are offering only in the upper 30's. That is the reality people have to deal with if they choose to earn their own way in the real world.

Orthonomics said...

Ariella-Exactly.

Melbournite said...

Besides all this there are a number of people with levels of undiagnosed mental health issues such as bipolar disorder or depression who are unable to understand why they cannot keep a job.These people need counselling but lack the insight to seek it.

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