Are you in the right line of work?

I teach a class for college students that helps them prepare to find internships and jobs.  And one of the activities we do involves career values- figuring out what you absolutely NEED and what you absolutely can’t stand in a job.  When the topic of compensation comes up, everyone shudders at the idea of working for commission (aka, only getting paid for your outcomes/performance/numbers), not receiving a guarenteed salary. 

After class tonight, that made me think- while I understand how working for commission has many unappealing characteristics (the uncertaintly, the lack of stability, the pressure to perform, etc…), it could work as an excellent career tool when evaluating what you currently do or are thinking of doing.

So ask yourself, in your current position, or in a job that you dream about having one day, would you “make it” if you only got paid through commission?

It doesn’t matter what your job is.  Just imagine that in your current job, your salary is based on commission.  Whatever you are required to do, it would be evaluated, and then assigned a commission amount- are you good enough at what you do, do you LOVE what you do enough, to still make money off it?

And a list of follow up questions:

  • If your answer is yes- congratulations!  Now break it down task by task. 
  • Which ones would you get paid more for because you do them better? 
  • Which ones will you have to improve on before you’ll get paid for your efforts?
  • If you answered no- why is that? 
  • Is it because you don’t like your position and don’t exert enough energy to truly excel at it, thereby losing your commission? 
  • Is it because you don’t know enough about the job? 
  • Is it because you get too distracted by other things to really do your job well?  Whatever the reason, there is a solution

No matter what your answer to these questions, there are next-steps you can take. 

For those that don’t exert enough energy to do well because they just don’t like what they do- there is the option of finding a career that truly inspires you to excel.  Companies like Vocation Vacations enable you to test out different careers as adults. 

For those of you who simply don’t know enough about the job, learn more!  Take classes at community colleges or Adult Education Centers like the BCAE to gain the skills you’re lacking.  Ask your boss to allow you to shadow people at the company to learn more. 

If you find things (like surfing internet blogs :) distracting, or coworkers are constantly interrupting you and you just can’t figure out how to focus on your work, set boundaries for yourself and others:

  • Only check your e-mail (work or personal), once in the morning and once in the afternoon so you aren’t constantly switching topics based on other peoples’ agendas. 
  • Put your phone directly to voicemail for an hour or 2 so you can concentrate. 
  • Pretend IT has blocked your favorite websites and don’t visit them all day. 
  • And be aware that it’s OK to tell your coworkers you are busy and you’ll get to them later.  Say it with a little more pinache than I just did, but say it none the less.  Learn how to say No from RealSimple.com (just about my favorite website/magazine EVER)