It Takes Brains

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Job Is Not a Thing

Ryan Ferguson

A business will hire anyone they believe will make them more money than they cost. It is as simple as that, but most people think about employment and jobs in a complex and abstract way.

People talk and think about jobs like they are things. Like you can possess one, lose one, or like you need to go get one from someone. So they go to job boards looking for the people who are giving away jobs. They go through the societal rituals that are expected of job seekers. But they are making a fundamental mistake — because jobs are not things, they are abstractions.

Getting lost in this abstraction causes a lot of pain and confusion. Seeing past the abstraction lets you see the countless opportunities you have available to you.

A job is an abstraction to describe a relationship between one person and another individual or group of people that agree to a certain type of ongoing trade. To get a job, you don’t need someone to create it and give it to you; you simply need to convince someone that you can make them more money than you cost.

Resumes, interviews, degree requirements, and references checks are tactics to help businesses measure their confidence in your ability to make them money. But at a fundamental level, all that you need to do to get a job with any business in the world is convince them that you are going to make them more money that you will cost.

What you cost is more than just your salary though. There are employment taxes, legal risks, and training costs on top of the money you are paid. Businesses need to be confident in your ability to make them money over the long-term to enter into an ongoing relationship with you. That is why references, previous work experiences, and projects you’ve completed are valuable. They show that you can actually create value.

When you see jobs for what they truly are, the world opens up to you. Like Neo learning to play with the rules in the Matrix, you can see the path forward to countless opportunities. You simply need to increase your ability to create value and your ability to convince others that you can create value.

Reprinted from

Ryan Ferguson hosts the World Wanderers podcast. He has been a participant in Praxis and is the Carl Menger Fellow at FEE.

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