Have You Failed By Taking A Short-Term Anything Job?

Suppose you’re one of those people – and there’s a lot of them out there these days – who have some education beyond High School. You’ve planned all along on pursuing a job that makes use of that education. However, with a widening gap of unemployment on your résumé matching your growing frustration at not working, you’ve found yourself finding the idea of just taking a job – any job – more and more appealing; something you thought you never would. There’s this nagging notion that you’ve failed though that keeps you from actually applying for work outside your field of education. So have you?

The short answer is no, you haven’t. Exhale and breathe a sigh of relief. Do that a few times and read on.

There’s a lot of common sense involved in doing exactly what you’ve contemplated and like I pointed out in the beginning, you’re one of many who are well-educated and unemployed. It is not only understandable that you’d be looking at broadening your job search at some point – perhaps where you are at the moment – it’s also a very good idea.

So how come? I mean, Employment Coaches and Counsellors often say you should stick to your career plan and never give up on what you really want. Doing anything else is just settling isn’t it? What happened to finding your passion and not letting any setbacks get in your way of going after what’s going to make you truly happy? Flipping burgers, selling clothes, walking school kids across busy intersections: these aren’t the kind of jobs you thought you’d give more than a passing glance at. Could you ever imagine you’d actually be seriously thinking of going after one of these jobs at this point having finished College or University?

Hang on and settle down. We’re not talking forever here. No one is suggesting that you start your first day down at the fast food outlet and pump your first shouting, “Yes! I’ve arrived!”

The jobs we’re discussing here have been in the past called survival jobs. More and more they are also called transition jobs; work that bridges the gap of time and space between the present and a job in the future. These are typically short-term positions outside your field of training and education.

When you find yourself browsing these ads more and more and seriously thinking about actually applying, may I suggest you change your line of perception. Instead of thinking that you’ve failed; that your post-secondary education was a waste of both time and money, consider the positives of these transition jobs.

First and foremost, the income from a job – any entry-level job – will stem some financial bleeding. Admittedly while likely minimum wage, money is money and some is better than none. Perhaps more important than money however is the inclusion factor. Right now you’re outside the workforce; remember feeling that everyone has a job but you? That so many people you see from your window seem to have somewhere to go, something to do, while you sit and grow despondent, frustrated and perhaps depressed? Uh huh. Yep, getting up, showered, dressed and out the door with a purpose is always good. That routine you’ve been missing is more important than you might have thought.

Now if you’ve looked at that School Crossing Guard advertised on some Municipality’s website and scoffed at it, think again. First of all those hours; before school, at noon and late afternoon leave you two chunks of time – mid-morning and mid-afternoon – to continue your targeted job search. Of even more significance perhaps is that once you land a Crossing Guard job, even though you’re working outside, you’ve at the same time become an internal employee. Had you considered that? Yes, you’re now able to see and apply for the internal jobs with that Municipality; jobs that up until now you had no access to. Full-time jobs that pay much better and perhaps come with benefits too.

That Crossing Guard job might be one you have to take for 3 or 6 months before you’re eligible to apply for anther internal job. Okay so be it. Do the job at present and do it with a positive attitude. You’ve got this job so you might as well enjoy it and keep telling yourself you’re in transition from this to your next job – the one you really want.

Remember you don’t have to add a short-term job on your résumé, but consider doing so because it does bridge a gap. In your cover letter or at an interview you can certainly state with confidence that you took the short-term job where you are working to pay the bills but you’re highly motivated to seek work in your field as this is where your passion and strong interest are.

A failure? Far from it. You’re wise enough not to let pride get in the way and perhaps it even demonstrates your belief that no job, and certainly not the people doing them, should be looked down on. Perhaps it’s helped you learn humility and an appreciation for the hard work involved which you’d previously overlooked. Perhaps too you’re actually better for the experience and will be all the more grateful for the opportunity to work in the field of your choice doing what you love.

Suddenly, you might be more attractive to your employer of choice.



Look At A Part-Time Job Another Way

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!