Why We Need To Be Less Concerned With What People Do For A Living


A recent report by Oxfam found that the five richest families in Britain owned the same wealth as the combined bottom 20 percent of the world population.

People are struggling, and unless you are at the wealthiest end of society, you have probably found things tough financially at some stage, too.

I graduated college in 2009, and at the time, it was reported to be the worst year to do so.

However, I am sure it was equally, if not more difficult, for those who went through the same process in the years that followed.

For months after graduating, my classmates and I found it impossible to find jobs.

Many of us worked in bars, call centers and supermarkets to get by.

For most of us, it took some time to get our first university-related job, and during that in-between time, we made sure people knew we had degrees and we were not just shopworkers.

Sometimes, I look back and cringe at how snobbish we were about the jobs that paid our rent, put food on the table and funded those nights in the pub where we all complained about our lack of "real work."

Today, most of us are lucky enough to be on the career paths for which we initially hoped, but we have learned nothing from our own struggles.

The first question we often ask people when we meet them (after their name, obviously) is what they do. We don’t mean for fun or what it is they do; rather, we mean for money.

Why — when so many of us have had difficulties finding work and know that there are still massive problems with under and unemployment — do we still judge people by their job titles?

I am a policy officer at a charity.

This tells you what I do from nine to five, Monday to Friday, and probably gives some indication of my pay packet, but what it doesn’t tell you which is more important.

I love to travel, I spend all my money on cheap flights and expensive cocktails, I am a crime fiction geek and I probably know more about ice cream than anyone else you know.

It is obvious that as a society, we are becoming increasingly materialistic and the fact that some online dating sites now contain a section for income shows that we have reduced people’s worth to a monetary value, which has taken this shallow lust for status to the next level.

Have we truly become so superficial that we would choose or reject a partner based on how much money he or she earns? Do our other characteristics no longer matter? Have we all been relegated to floating dollar signs?

As well as potentially missing out on some great relationships, the other problem with judging people by what they do for a living is what happens when we meet someone who is unemployed and reliant on benefits.

Do we believe that unemployed people have no value to society? Have they nothing else that defines them but their unemployment?

If we judge someone’s value by his or her job, we miss learning about the person's essence. This is especially true when that person has no job.

They could bake amazing cakes, know the best jokes or sing like superstars, but if we write them off the minute they say they are unemployed, we will never know.

Many of you reading this will deny you would ever judge anyone by his or her job title or bank balance, but take a few minutes to think about it.

Consider the questions you ask people when you first meet them and how you react to their answers.

One of my friends recently started dating someone new and before I could stop myself, I questioned, "and what does he do?"

What I should have been interested in is what made him attractive, whether he has any interesting hobbies and what he and my friend had in common.

Instead, I fell into the same trap as everyone else and simply wanted to know where he worked.

We needed to wake up and realize that job titles and money in the bank aren’t what is important.

We should choose our friends and partners based on their ability to make us laugh, the things we have in common, their trustworthiness and their kindness.

We won’t learn these things from job titles or even a bank account; it’s time we started looking beyond the labels and seeing the people behind them.