The dead end job

When I was young my parents cajoled me into working hard at school by saying “If you don’t work hard, you’ll end up in a dead end job.” Looking back now in later life where my last five jobs have been dead end jobs I’m not sure I share their horror of what they tried to save me from. I say that because there are worse things in life than dead end jobs. A dead end job makes few demands of you; you have little if any responsibility and if things go wrong, generally speaking someone else has to sort it out. And if you don’t like the job you can always exchange it for another dead end job. On the down side the pay is always poor and the hours can be unsocial.

I think it is different for young people though. To be starting your working life in a dead end job is never a good thing. With years of working life ahead of you, you need something to aspire for and aim for even if it is only acquiring skills and experience that can help you towards a job that does have prospects and possibilities.

The nature of employment has changed considerably. A job for life barely exists now. People change jobs regularly. Contracts – if you are lucky enough to have one – are weighted heavily in favour of the employer. A scandalous thing called a zero hours contract is becoming widely used. And this week we heard how a university graduate was made to dance at a job interview for a sales assistant post with an electronics superstore. Has the world gone crazy? I worked in retail for almost 20 years and trust me I never danced once in all those years!


4 thoughts on “The dead end job

  1. You may not have danced but you tore up and down the stairs with incredible speed. Perhaps you were getting in training for a marathon later in life. These days a job of any sort is something to be glad of. There are times in life when a dead end job is exactly what you want, if you’re not aiming to do the thing as a career but, as you suggest, that’s probably not the way a young person starting out would want to think about it.

    This business of work and jobs is on my mind quite a lot, what with not having a job and not having worked in a normal capacity for quite a while now. I used to think it was really important to have a career and when I eventually got what I thought was a good one in the oil industry, I found out that just making money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It is very useful, of course, and there were other things about the work I enjoyed, but working solely for money, or in a job you don’t enjoy but stick with because it pays well, seems to make little sense to me now. It makes life seem pretty pointless.

    • Thanks Lorna. Wise words indeed. I think its very difficult when you’re young to have that kind of awareness about the world of work, if only because the awareness only really comes from experience of life and work itself and you don’t have that when you set out.


  2. It’s all a matter of how you view the job – if you enjoy it, and you’re happy, you have the best job in the world, even if the prospects are zero! We are being brainwashed by the media to believe that money equates with happiness! But you only have to read reports about the pressures of executive city jobs to realise that it all comes with a price. I saw the story about the interviewee, too – ridiculous! At that point I would have walked out. But first you have to distance yourself from that kind of world to realise how ridiculous it is!

    • Very true Jo. My conclusion, after many years of thinking about it, is that there are a relatively small number of people who find the job they really love and make a great career from it. Quite a few others find a job they love without making a lot of money. As you correctly say that can actually be a positive too. But my pessimistic view is that the majority of people sadly don’t ever find a job they really love. They put up with these jobs for the money and security.


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