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Why Career Coach Ken Coleman Says We Should Live To Work


Thousands of job vacancies remain open in Georgia as job seekers slowly return to the job market. Credit: Pexels

You may have noticed, as you move around your neighborhood, some signs in the front of fast food chains that are highlighting hourly pay and bonuses instead of their latest burger. There is definitely a shortage of people filling these positions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. So what is going on with job seekers? Joining us now with some thoughts on that is Ken Coleman. Ken is a career coach and author of the new book, From Paycheck to Purpose.

Leah Fleming: So restaurants and businesses, they have been advertising to fill thousands of open positions, offering incentives like signing bonuses and paid college tuition. And it would seem like people in the job market would have the upper hand. But that's not the way it seems to be turning out, because these signs are still up. So what do you think is keeping these positions open? 

Ken Coleman: These are hourly wage positions. And so they're on the lower end of the income scale in the United States. And I think a lot of people are saying, “Hey, I'm making more through the unemployment insurance than I would be making if I was working. And so, I'm going to take this time to either relax and chill or I'm going to take this time to get qualified for something else, because I want to move up the ladder anyway.” But the second factor is, is that all humans want to advance. And I think people are moving into technology jobs. I think they're moving into customer service jobs, maybe even delivery jobs where there can be in a car and kind of have more autonomy.

Leah Fleming: You know, when I look at positions, though, like waiting tables or serving, you know, working at McDonald's or any kind of fast food chain — I mean, I know a lot of people think, oh, it's a dead-end job, but it can often, don't you think, be a springboard to something greater? 

Ken Coleman: Well, you're absolutely right. I'm glad you bring this up that they're offering not just signing bonuses, but tuition. And so now all of a sudden, if you go get a job at Walmart, you've got yourself a real path to a wonderful future because they'll pay for your college education and an opportunity to move up at a really, really big company. 

Leah Fleming: So, more people are also leaving the job market to create their own career paths. Is this a good time to consider starting your own business, you think?

Ken Coleman: Absolutely, because you think about what technology has done and social media has done to lower the barrier for somebody to start a business and get it going. I think it's really key, though, to think about starting a business. Looks like now you'll want to start really, really slow. And so the idea here is, is don't get caught up in your dream to try to do too much too soon. But as a side hustle goes, absolutely, now's the time to start it because you don't even have to pay much to get it going. You could have a website up and running within an hour and then you get social media, which is free. You get a business page up on Facebook in less than two minutes and it doesn't cost you anything more. 

Leah Fleming: That brings us to your book, From Paycheck to Purpose. It really is about moving beyond working for a paycheck, which so many of us were trained to do from when we were kids, to finding your real, your true purpose that really uplifts you.

Ken Coleman: And we all long to make a difference, not just a paycheck. And so that's where the word "purpose" comes in. We all want to contribute to this world to leave something behind. For so long, we've been told that work is just about income. We work to live. And I would suggest that we live to work. And I don't mean that your entire identity and who you are is wrapped up in your work. What I'm saying is, is that if you live to make a difference, then a huge portion of that difference making is going to happen in your work. So you can make the income you want and the impact that you desire.  

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