What is a real job anyway? — Find a meaning in oversaturated modern job markets.

Stephenson Westernlund
2 min readFeb 12, 2024

Some time ago, I found myself reading comment after comment in online forums about how plumpers do more to contribute to society than management consultants. People on the internet divide between real jobs and not real jobs. After all, if we look at the development of the labor market and job title inflation in the last 10 years, since when did we only have the marketing title to something like direct channel marketing manager?

Adam Smith in his theory of specialization, labor productivity can be increased through what he called division of labor. The division of labor will encourage specialization, where people will choose to do what is best according to their respective talents and abilities. And economically, this will be more profitable for a wider job market and the exchange between the needs of each person will increase.

According to Smith, one of the characteristics that modern society has become so rich is that, every time we pass other people on the street, we most likely do not know their job or understand their work.

The big issue with this phenomenon is that the more specialized and separated the parts of the job become, the more difficult it is to find meaning in the job. We are sold on the idea that meaningful work is one that changes a person’s life, so a job that directly (apparently) changes a person’s life is more likely to be considered a real job. What is the meaning of a telemarketer in a human resources outsourcing company? It is very easy to understand a job in the modern era as just a task that is carried out repeatedly without knowing its full impact.

What people lack in their professionalism is an understanding of the contribution of their work when combined in the overall grand scheme of things. Every job matters, it is part of a bigger scheme. Many modern jobs, although not directly exposed to final impacts, are helping other people and serving society. And it should be taken with prideness and dignity.