Career coach sparks debate after claiming jobs only have to be ‘tolerable’ and pay the bills

·5-min read

A career coach has sparked a debate after claiming that people should choose jobs that they can “tolerate,” and that careers shouldn’t be the “centre point” of life.

On TikTok, recruiter Emily Durham, who goes by the username @emily.the.recruiter, frequently shares videos about career tips, which include how to build a resume, negotiate for a higher salary, and manage burnout and stress.

In a recent clip, Durham responded to a video posted by @luluhasfun, who said: “How am I supposed to find something I want to do for the rest of my life if I don’t like any job?”

In response, Durham claimed that people don’t necessarily need to find a job that they love, as their careers don’t have to be the main focus of their lives.

“You pick a job that you can tolerate that’s going to pay the bills and you don’t make that the centre point of your life,” Durham said.

The TikToker then claimed that our biggest responsibility in life is doing things that make us happy, and that jobs are only there to help us achieve this goal.

“Your full-time job is doing things that make you happy and this job is really just there to help you pay for it,” Durham continued. “We’re raised being told that if we love what we do, we’re never going to work a day in our lives, and that’s just bulls**t.”

She added in the caption: “Our passion doesn’t have to be capitalism!!”

Durham also clarified in the comments that her comments don’t mean she doesn’t enjoy what she does for a living, but rather that she thinks it’s important to obtain joy from other aspects of life.

“PSA I love my job BUT if you feel like there isn’t a job out there that brings you joy… that’s totally cool. Create joy in other places,” she wrote.

As of 24 May, the video has more than 5.9m views, with some TikTok users applauding Durham’s opinion.

“So glad someone said this,” one person wrote. “Work is not your passion, it’s a paycheck. You use that paycheck for travel and hobbies.”


#stitch with @luluhasfun I related to this video SO much. Our passion doesn’t have to be capitalism!! #careertok #careertips #9to5life

♬ original sound - Emily Durham

“YES! I say this all the time,” another added. “People treat their jobs like the end, but they’re the means to the end. Use the money you get as a tool.”

However, other users disagreed with Durham, with many noting that it’s hard not to be focused on work, which is why they want to find a profession that they’re passionate about - especially when working so many hours a week.

“Working 40-44 hours a week plus commuting, getting ready, being tired af, not being able to sleep, prepping meals. Yea no, life revolves around work,” one person wrote.

“I don’t agree! Life is too short to just tolerate your job,” another viewer added. “I mean you spend so much time of your life at your workplace.”

Someone else asked: “I spend 40 hours/week at work, how am I supposed to not make it the centre point of my life?”

In a follow-up video, Durham gave viewers advice about creating a boundary between their personal and professional lives, which began with her claiming that she was “not going to address the fact capitalism has straight up set us up to fail by making 40 hour work weeks standard”.

She also acknowledged that she is lucky to have a job that she loves and still have time to herself, before explaining how she found joy outside of work while working at previous jobs that she didn’t like.

“After five o’clock, or whenever you’re done work, I’m not thinking about work. I’m not talking about work,” she explained. “Work doesn’t exist to me. As much as I can, I’m going to carve out time to go out and do things I enjoy after work so that I don’t lose my whole day.”

“But the biggest part is it being a mental shift,” she added. “You’re no longer willing to dedicate so much emotional investment into a job that you know isn’t doing anything for you other than pay for bills.”

Speaking to The Independent, Durham expressed how privileged she is to have a job that she is passionate about. However, she acknowledged that this isn’t necessarily true for everyone, which she said is why she made her TikTok.

“In a perfect world, we would all love what we do,” she explained. “The intention for this video was for folks who don’t feel this way, who maybe have a passion that they don’t want to do in their nine to five, or are not deeply excited about their current work. I am a huge advocate for finding work that brings you joy, but if that isn’t an option.... or isn’t your preference... that’s okay, too!”

She also noted that, while it can be important for people to find a career that they love, that may not always be an option, at which point it can be helpful to pursue a career that has aspects that you like.

“You may not be deeply passionate about the banking industry but you may love working with people, working in excel and presentations,” she added. “So finding a job that you like or can find elements of passion in, can be a great way to make sure you are satisfied and doing well.”

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