By Ann Eastham
Contributor, Career Services
Sometimes we just need a job to make ends meet; these are called “Survival Jobs.” They are often low-paying, low-end positions that require little to no prior experience. These jobs are often seasonal or, at a minimum, temporary for the job seeker. I’m not referring to positions someone does while they are still in college. While the actual position may be the same, the reason behind them is not. I’m referring to people who are otherwise qualified for higher paying, career-oriented positions, but currently aren’t for a variety of factors. This could be due to being fired or downsizing. Survival jobs are obtained in times of crisis, such as to avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure; there is a way to survive them.
While you’re looking for a survival job, it can be handy to think of a new skill you would like to learn or perfect that would aid in your eventual career goals. Maybe your goal is to work in marketing – working for a major retailer will give you insights and experience at the ground level. If you can’t find something related to your eventual goals, try to find something related to your hobbies. If you take pride in your health and wellness, you could find a position at a gym or health food store that might make your time more enjoyable.
Try not to let the survival job take over your ability to obtain your career or ideal position. This can be especially tough since finding a new job can be a job in and of itself. Whether it’s before or after your shift or on your day off, purposely set aside time for the search. Doing so will give you something to work towards and not feel stuck. You’ll also want to consider ways to stay current in your field, especially if you have a certification to maintain. Additional education or certification is one route many people take, but you could also consider joining a professional organization and attending meetings and conferences (BONUS: You’ll meet more industry professionals).
Most importantly, be a pleasant employee. It can be really difficult to go from being a manager at a large company, to suddenly being managed by someone much younger than you, but you have to remain positive. Remember, your manager will likely be contacted during the hiring process and if their review of you isn’t favorable, it could cost you the position.
Survival jobs are never ideal as the process can be humiliating and stressful, but hopefully you will never need one. But as the saying goes, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In other words, do what you can to get the most out of the experience and hopefully your journey through the survival job is temporary.
[Related article: Landing a Survival Job]
About the Author
Ann started her education at the University of Findlay and completed an Associates degree in Equestrian Studies in 2005. After working for a few years in a wide variety of farm/ranch jobs, she completed her bachelor’s in healthcare administration at Ashford University. Ann served as a clinical technician in an ICU/telemetry unit before working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for cardiac, vascular and thoracic surgery.
In 2011, Ann transitioned from working in the healthcare field into higher education and started as an Academic Advisor. While working as an advisor, Ann developed a passion for assisting students in converting their education into careers and became a career coach in 2014. Ann currently works with students in the health, nursing, intelligence/national security, and military industries.
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