Every so often I share with readers some of the teachable moments that come up on a daily basis between myself and the clients with whom I work. Yesterday was such a moment and if you are job searching, you might find it a good read, and potentially beneficial. If you too work with clients who are unemployed, it may be equally be good food for discussion.
The woman in question at the very end of our day happened to make a chance remark that went like this: “I was offered a job months ago now but turned it down because it was only one day a week and I can’t live on that.” In addition to the actually words, she said them in a tone that would normally make you automatically agree with the person. I however, spread my hands wide in a questioning gesture and said, “What?!”
So she and one other participant stayed behind and for another thirty minutes I broke down the positives of taking such a job. For starters, when you accept a job, for any duration of time that is in the field you are interested in long-term work, you are getting some experience. You’re also getting 2013 experience on your resume, and as we are just about to exhaust 2013 for good, anything beyond 2013 starts looking very dated. Then there’s the chance that if you are performing well, you may be offered additional hours and be the go-to person when someone is ill or otherwise unavailable.
Need more reasons? Okay, now being there once a week you are privy to the internal postings board, which as an external candidate you can’t access. And references? Oh do a good job on that one day and you’ll be in a good position to ask for a reference. Need more? Let’s continue then and mention networking. Yes, now you are in a position to network, get to know the Receptionist, who in the future may no longer bar your calls from getting through to the Hiring Manager. Get to know the other staff who may know of other job openings but not be interested for themselves but tell you.
In addition to the above, there is the uplifting, self-esteem boosting feeling that someone wants you! You’ve got somewhere to be one day a week where you are fulfilled, have some purpose, feel appreciated, and are doing what you want. Why you are in a continuous job interview every day you are working. People are watching your attendance, your attitude, skills, willingness to help out, eagerness to learn, manners, knowledge, etc. WHEN a job comes open, you want to be the first person they think of. You can’t buy this kind of audition! And you’re the one getting paid!
And let’s remember that any employer who can only offer you one day of work per week isn’t realistically expecting you to be happy with those limited hours forever. It would be expected that you’d be job searching both internally and externally. Any employer who says they don’t agree needs a severe wake up to the realities of being unemployed. So you can pretty much count on not getting them annoyed if you walk in one day or call in and say you’ve found another job or are in the process of being hired. I’m willing to bet that they will congratulate you and probably if asked, will be the reference for you you’re looking for.
Ah but there is even more! By working one day a week, you get to hone your skills, learn current practices, maybe learn some new software program the company uses, brush up on what you learned in school theoretically but haven’t had practical application of.
The argument most often made to me by people who turn down these opportunities is that it just breaks even once you factor in gas or transit fare, so why bother? Well I’d snap up that job personally even if it meant a slight loss of income. You see for all the reasons above, I’d see this like an investment in myself and my future. It costs money to go to school doesn’t it? So why do that either? The answer is obvious, because you get taught what you need to know and can better compete for employment when you graduate. Isn’t the same true in a job that is only a day a week? It’s an investment in yourself.
By the end of our discussion, she actually felt remorse and quite silly for not having taken the opportunity. It wasn’t my intent to make her feel silly, but she did agree that if given another such chance, she’d jump at it now. And so the thirty minutes was worth it, and not only because I came out the victor. It wasn’t a fight at all, nor was it about me. She learned the value of such a position, and sees opportunities now where she didn’t before. Moving forward, she’ll be more receptive to thinking in broader concepts.
So there it is. A teachable moment that I wanted to share with you. Not very remarkable perhaps, but it illustrates how limited thinking limits opportunities. We can all only guess at where she’d be now had a different decision been made long ago to say, “yes” instead of “no”.
Be good out there today!