Three types of jobs

Three types of jobs - by David Giltner

When you get right down to it, there are really just three types of jobs.

No, really.

I’m not talking about three job descriptions, the kind that you will find in an Internet search. I’m talking about three types of jobs in terms of what is required of you. In terms of the mental and emotional labor required. In terms of the balance of physical labor, mental labor, and emotional labor.

And I think it’s very important that when you are designing your career and looking for your next job, that you consider which of these types of jobs you want.

Job Type #1: You do what someone tells you to

This type of job is where the work output is well-defined, and the company just need somebody to do it. These jobs are typically paid by the hour. Many involve physical labor, and the salary is generally not that high, because it’s easy to find someone else who can do what they are told.

Physical labor: High   Mental labor: Low  Emotional labor: Low   Compensation: Low

Job type #2: You figure out the ‘right answer’

This is the type of job where you deliver the solution to a problem. Scientists and engineers typically fall into this category, and these roles typically require significant mental labor.  These types of jobs generally pay significantly more than the first type, because they require specialized training and skills, and people with these capabilities are harder to find.

Physical labor: Low   Mental labor: High  Emotional labor: Low   Compensation: Med

Job type #3: You decide what to do when there is no ‘right answer’

Job type #3 is the job of a leader. Leadership is, at its heart, the job of making decisions when there is no ‘right answer.’ This kind of job requires significant emotional labor.  These jobs are where the real value is, because this is the kind of labor that moves companies forward.  But it is much harder to find people who are willing to do this kind of work on a consistent basis, and it requires significant risk. Therefore, these types of jobs often pay very well. Sometimes very, very well.

Physical labor: Low   Mental labor: Med  Emotional labor: High   Compensation: High

Why this matters

Which type of job do you aspire to? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the first two types of jobs. But most people find that if they aspire to leadership in any capacity, they need to embrace at least some degree of willingness to make decisions when there is no right answer. Want to learn more?

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