Is a corporate office job such an easy way of life?
Since I was a child, I heard almost only positive words about office jobs. According to my family, my family friends, my friends parents, older friends of friend, ecc, those jobs are stable, don’t require a lot of energy, are organized, give certainties, are paid well enough and give the possibility to plan your life. Only when I started doing some regular research on the topic I found some stories of people who couldn’t bear it anymore and gave it up to live their dreams.
So what’s the truth about corporate office jobs?
No big discovery saying it’s not black or white, just a solid shade of grey.
Since I moved to Cracow I had the chance to work a bit here and there, in the Tourism industry, as a Freelancer, as a City guide and in corporate offices.
If you, like many from my generation, don’t know what to do with your professional career or don’t have any idea how to make an income from your passion, chances are high you will end up on a online recruitment website, reading a corporate office job offer and wandering if it’s really worth it.
Every position has it’s targets to achieve (statistic to measure for example procedure efficiency), work organization, procedures, internal code of conduct, rules, different lines of managers responsible for you or to whom refer in different scenarios, material benefits and facilitation.
For the newbies in the industry, some basic info: If the offer mentions a standard full time contract, you will have to work 8 hours plus the time given to you for lunch (if you work during the day). In Poland the law entitles you to a 15 minutes break included in your shift and 5 minutes every hour in front of a monitor or laptop. Not included in the 8 hours, you will (or at least should) have the lunch break of 30 or 60 minutes. Some sectors like customer service, may require you to work in a shift system (for example morning, evening and night). Part time and other types of contracts may require from you less than 8 hours per day.
The pros of a corporate office job
Predictability: of your day and duties. This is very helpful to people who need often to prepare mentally for the day or to those who are often focused on their passions, family or home. Predictability doesn’t have to be a bad thing, on the contrary, it makes work less stressful, unpredictable, uncertain.
Established group of colleagues: you know who you can trust or who ask for help, you may even become great friends with some of your colleagues, your place of work may be enlightened by some jokes or chit chat.
Benefits: many corporations offers discounts and vouchers. Corporate offices usually have a kicthen where you can prepare some tea or coffe, bring your breakfast or lunch, take a break from your working space. From the perspective of a person that worked as a City guide and had only the bathroom of the shop nearby to use, this is a thing worth mentioning. Many corporate offices in Poland are also equipped with microwaves, coffee machines, fresh food and vending machines with snack. Among other popular benefits are free language courses, sport activities and
Clear expectations: in corporate offices you are required to do a specific job and, as a consequence, meet specific targets. This means it will be easier for you to understand on what to focus, for what you will be rewarded and to stress less about the “things that my manager told I should have thought about but I was not informed to” (such scenarios may happen however, in my experience, are rare).
Financial credibility: in case you are planning to ask for a mortgage, the bank may need a written information from your employee about the expiring date of the contract and how much you earn.
The cons of a corporate office job
Stability: surprise! Contrary to popular opinions, a corporate office job does not mean stability. Today’s economy and progress create an ever evolving job industry. The project you are working on may close, your company may want you to change your position or selling out, your salary or bonuses may be cut. You may say this applies to any job and I agree but it’s even more harmful if you expect to find this kind of certainty.
Workflow: your breaks and pauses may be really strictly planned. In some companies sadly is difficult to take a short break if you are not feeling okay or had a difficult moment without your superiors noticing it. Corporate offices are very accurate in calculating the time you spend actually working breaking it down to every minute. Fortunately I have to stress a clear workflow doesn’t have to be negative if there’s an empathic manager or colleague caring about it.
Rules and internal procedures: corporations have specific internal rules and procedure which regulate how their employees face any situation. If you notice a procedure is slowing you down or affects negatively your work, you may consider accepting it as changing anything is extremely complicated in such huge organized chains. Sometimes, instead of just asking your team leader, you have to colect evidence, prepare a presentation and register a request to modify the procedure. Later, whatever you proposed, will need to be evalueted financially and analized to comply with the law and data privacy. If you are a creative person, you may get frustrated with this part.
Appearence: every team or project has multiple managers above it, often they don’t know what you are really doing down there so they will rely on how you approach situations and people. An outgoing person will be appreciated much quicker and rewarded. The majority of offices are organized in open spaces, one huge floor with dozens of desks. Colleagues that don’t work on the same project will sooner or later interact with each other and, not knowing each other, will base their approach on how you present yourself. There is an increasing number of introverts so it’s worth mentioning that corporate office job may be mentally exhausting due to the number of interactions required to prove your investment.
I did not mention some other pros and cons as they are not a standard in the majority of offices and depend strongly on the sector (financial, IT, ecc.). but some companies offer the chance to work on few days a week days from home, closed space (contrary to open space floors).
So is a corporate office job adequate to me?
It really depends on what are your needs and what is your nature.
If you are an introvert for example, you could benefit from “back-end” positions in which you don’t have to support customers however you will still need to report your statistics to your superiors and talk to your colleagues. The routine of an office may help a lot people who need some organization in their everyday life or bore and frustrate creative and active people.
If you have a passion but you don’t know how to make a living out of it (for the moment I hope), an office job with requirements adequate to your character and needs may be a good solution. If you paint, you may choose a job that is not mentally draining. If you love cycling but don’t want to do it professionaly, a position that requires mental focus but not physical effort will aloow you to come home and dedicate yourself to your bike.
If you are creative but you can’t find a job that reflects your drives, choose something you will feel comfortable doing, a position that sounds simple but only if it requires knowledge as this will prevent you from getting bored and become frustrated.
Tips to get hired
After reading all of this you be enthusiast about it or perhaps you want to give it a try (which I am convinced is always a good attitude) or it’s your only sensate option for the moment. So how to prepare for the recruiting process? I will share some tips that worked really well for me and my friends.
First of all, prepare a good Curriculum Vitae. You can look up how CV for positions like the one you are considering look like. Apart from your education, include only the professional experience you have pertinent to the new job, if you have none, be detailed about what you learned until now that is considered helpful for the new job (for example empathy and problem solving skills for customer service, orientation to details and experience with a tool for Finance). Put effort into making you CV look professional. I sincerely recommendCanvafor this part, you can there find templates for cover letters too if the company requires.
During the interview, be professional and assertive, show positive attitude (for example if there is something you don’t know, don’t panic or stress it, just say you are willing to learn it and do so).
If you are not 100% happy about this position, search for positive sides. You are choosing it because it’s the best option at the moment, remembering this may help a lot.
How to adapt to a corporate office job
Remember first of all to always care about your health and I am not talking only about physically visible symptoms. Working in an office may be very stressful and substantially impact your physical health. Don’t ever wait for physical state to start caring about your mental health, it’s not worth it as a simple reset from your duties is worth month of medications and doctors visits later.
Be confident about your ideas, show respect and demand respect, don’t shut yourself if learning new things is demanded. This way you will adapt the environment around you to be more docile and you will have something curious to focus on.
If you loose motivation sometimes, set small goals (for example close some requests in your queue, finish a report that is waiting for you, add some fun quotes to a presentation you are working on).
Search for additional projects within your company. Many corporation organize lots of charity events, seasonal parties and competitions which include employees passion like photography or DIY.
Search for other positions within your company. It is in fact easier to get recruited for less popular positions that may actually suit you. Making career internally is easier than starting from zero and as an “outsider” and even if you won’t find your dream job, you will have more experience to present during your decisive future interview.
If you don’t believe you can make it…
…here is some good news. A lot of guitarists, photographers, artistic bakers, DJs, painters, fashion bloggers, travel bloggers and many other artists work in offices. Whether it’s temporary or not, it’s possible to find something that allows you to do your thing once back from work.
Just remember that every corporate office job may be as much (or even more) of a sacrifice as the first steps to your dream job and on this base valuate if it’s worth it.