Everywhere you look, businesses are hiring, but everywhere you listen, there’s a conversation about people not being able to take many of these jobs, because they are not “good jobs.” But what makes a job a “good” job…or at least one that would be a good job for you?
The job pays enough money to cover the expenses you need it to cover with the base, or average pay.
This will be different for everyone. A “good job” for someone who just needs to pay the rent on a single room in a shared apartment is going to be different than for someone who owns a home and has kids to support. But whether we’re talking about a job that earns the $80,000 per year salary you need to care for your family and pay off a collection of old bills without going broke, or a third side hustle you took on to earn that $100 you need to get your nails done every month, it’s a good fit for a job for you if the base salary, wages, or wages plus average tips covers the expenses you need it to cover. It becomes a poor fit, a bad job, when you find yourself begging for overtime, running yourself ragged to earn bonuses, or working three times the hours you expected to work to earn a commission.
The work is honest.
Of course you do not have a good job if the work involves selling a substance that could earn you a lengthy prison term and kill any customers that use too much of it, or if your side business involves pretending to be someone else online to trick people into sending you money. But all perfectly legal work is not honest work.
Multilevel, or network marketing companies require you to manipulate people into thinking their products are superior to others on the market, even when those claims are untrue, and to further manipulate them into believing they can earn unlimited income by signing up to work for them, often at a great financial loss. Some of them require you to promote dubious claims about the healing power of shakes and pills and workout routines. Most of them make you promise “free” trips and prizes that actually cost the person a great deal of time and often money, to earn.
The amount of money you need to spend to take the job is reasonable given what you will get out of the job.
Never pay anyone directly to get to work for them. Anytime someone tells you that you must pay for classes in order to work for them, asks for a startup fee, or insists you have to pay for training is not offering you a job. They’re trying to scam you.
But there are times when we have to buy things in order to take a job. If your whole wardrobe is black jeans and band tee shirts, you’ll need to buy some clothes to work in an office with a business casual dress code. You may need to invest in an upgraded computer in order to work from home successfully, or a pair of pricey work boots for safety in some workplaces. Many people find they need to purchase small personal items like coffee cups, lunch boxes, pens, and notepads to take back and forth to work.
Whether the expense is worth it, whether this is still a good job for you, depends on why you’re taking the job. If this is a new career, a second career, or something you’re hoping to have as a day job for the foreseeable future, new electronics, safety equipment, or clothing may be a reasonable investment. But spending anything more than a dollar or two would defeat the purpose of taking a temporary job you only need to raise money for a single project.
The job is at least tolerable.
The old-fashioned attitude about work, which argues that you are there to do a job and get a paycheck, and that anything you have to put up with should simply be tolerated, leads to worker exploitation and abuse. However, the contemporary attitude of entitlement, where we think everyone else is responsible for making sure we never have to do, see, read, hear, or think about anything that does not delight us, is narcissistic and detrimental to society as a whole. Somewhere in the middle is a more realistic view. You do have the right to a workplace free of hazards and harassment, but you are there to do a job, and that job is not always going to be fulfilling or fun. There will always be things you simply have to tolerate at work.
What you can tolerate and what makes you decline to apply for a job is going to vary by person. Standing all shift is probably not fun for anyone, but some can handle it, and some might not be able to walk the next day. Laughing off insults from strangers is easy for some people, while others may take it to heart, and might want to avoid customer service jobs.
Even if you do not actually like a job, you should at least be able to function once you leave for the day. If you find yourself unable to walk, sit, get out of bed, or stop crying, raging, or complaining after every work period, it’s not a “good job” for you.
You are actually making money.
As long as we’re getting a paycheck, we think we are making money. But in some cases, this may not be true. We could be breaking even, essentially working for free. Or we could even be losing money.
Think of working in a very trendy enviornment, such as a clothing boutique. While you may be able to get away with a small initial investment of a few items of workplace appropriate clothing, you may be expected to regularly update and add to your wardrobe in order to keep with the image of the store, or invest in pricey cosmetics and salon treatments. Many jobs keep you far enough away from home that you will need to go out for lunch every day, or purchase extra groceries that can be stored in the employee break room.
When these expenses start to add up to the same amount, or more, than the paycheck, you are not making money at the job.
A “good job” is always one where the workplace is safe, serves an honorable purpose, and pays decently. Beyond that, what makes a “good job” depends entirely on the worker’s goals for the work. A good, or even a great job, for someone else might be a terrible job for you, and you may wind up loving someplace someone else couldn’t last a week.