Should I Take a Survival Job?
Survival Jobs - Eat Now or Later?
We all know that we have to work to survive. In this economy however many of us are finding that not only do we have to work - but we have to work at jobs we didn't expect to - jobs that I refer to as "survival jobs".
Now in essence we could probably call just about any job a "survival job", since wages from our work contribute to our survival (in most cases anyway - unless you work because you just plain ole enjoy it or have massive amounts of wealth stashed somewhere)
What I am talking about here is taking on a job you would normally never consider taking - one that pays less money, has less prestige, is much different than the job you would normally be at , you are over-qualified for, offers less benefits or demands you work hours you hate or would never usually agree to. Yes, a job that you take just to survive.
I'm So Over Qualified....Or Am I?
My partner and I closed our business about a year and half ago, just as the economy started really going south. I soon found myself back in the unenviable place of being back in the job market after 14 years of being self-employed. Now before any of you think well gee she had her own business for 14 years, that must have been swell....well let me tell you that being a small business owner is probably one of the hardest jobs anyone could ever take on. As a small business owner you are not only the book keeper - but the janitor - and the customer service rep - all in one fell swoop. Not that I would change those 14 years for anything - because I did learn alot - but it really set me up for a huge reality check when I was suddenly thrown back into the job market. Not only thrown into finding a job but making a resume and hitting the pavement along with 15 zillion other job seekers, in an awful upside-down economy.
This is where the humble pie came in....after searching high and low for several months for that "perfect" and "right" job for little qualified me, I began to realize there were alot of other qualified "me's" running around looking for that same job I was. Not only were they qualified but even more qualified in many cases, which began to scare the peejeebies out of me. I started to question my self-worth. I mean after all wasn't I a highly qualified designer, former business owner who should have her pick of jobs?
Time to take my ego hat off and get down to business. Time to really eat some humble pie with a good dose of reality tossed in!
A Little "Humble Pie" Never Hurt Anyone...
So now that you have a little idea of my pre-job ego, let me tell you how taking a "survival job" came down for me - and maybe give you some tips on what to avoid and what to do to help you land that survival job... For me I soon came to realize that having a job in this economy was nothing to be taken lightly. My mantra now to anyone who has a job is "keep it and be happy you even have a job right now!". I have seen many friends and family fighting just to keep their heads above water, including me. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area has not helped - our area has been very hard hit - losing a third of the equity in my home was a big blow, closing a business after 14 years was a blow.....I could go on and on with own woes but there are many many people in the same boat as me if not worse! So I finally came to the conclusion that ANY job was better than none, even if that included working at some fast food joint... So I started looking for a "survival job", any job that would help pay the bills, put shoes on my feet and food on the table (only of course until my writing career ramps up ... dang I just hate that "starving artist" crud in between though!!!)
Some Tips for Landing a Survival Job
So a year and a half later, I am not only happy to report that I have a job but I actually have 2! Even though both of them are far less money than I would normally work for, both jobs are using some of my best skill sets - art, sales and photography - which have been a blessing.
SOME ADVICE AND TIPS ON FINDING A SURVIVAL JOB:
1. Check your ego in at the door. This is no time for ego. Food on the table or pride - which do do you prefer? (last time I checked pride didn't have much sustenance or flavor to it)
2. Don't be afraid to let people know, anyone in fact, that you are looking for a job. Referrals can be the best source of job leads! (My latest job was a direct result of someone close to me knowing an employer that needed one of my skill sets. It was a perfect match!)
3. If you have been in business like me, or have lots of business contacts, get connected again. Let them know you are looking for a job, position, whatever you choose to call it. Join professional networks like LinkedIn on the Internet.
4. Go into job hunting realizing that there are alot of other people vying for the same position. Perhaps this will help you think twice about your expectations.
5. Try job hunting on Craigslist. I got 2 of my recent jobs this way, both decent jobs. Like I said, not what I would normally be doing but there are lots of job categories on Craigslist to choose from!
6. Prepare a nice but not too preppy resume. Be real in your expectations. In my latest resume I was rather blunt but honestly nice, and one of employers said it was my resume that hooked her. It pays to be real!
7. Keep in mind that this position will probably only be a stepping stone to something else. I know that I will probably not be doing what I'm doing 5 years from now but that's OK. It is an ends to a means, ya know? So don't get discouraged!
8. Adjust your living habits to your survival job. I mean come on, there are really some things that we can let go of, and there are some things we can't like basic utilities, food , mortgage rent, medical, life stuff, ya know? Maybe it's time to stop drinking Starbucks (gasp) or do our own nails (gasp gasp)
9. When you get your survival job, leave time to still look for other opportunities. Don't give up looking on Craigslist, Monster, Hot Jobs or whatever agencies you use to job hunt.
10. Don't be afraid of working part-time. I actually ended up with 2 part-time jobs and one even has full benefits. It's also kind of nice to break up the monotony with 2 places of employment!
Most of all, don't give up and don't get discouraged. We have seen tough economic times before and we rose to the occasion. Sure it's not easy but this is the time to encourage one another, find creative and legitimate ways to make an income, support one anothers efforts and think about becoming more self sufficient. Survival jobs are one of the ways to do this, and with a questionable economic recovery at hand, one that many of us should be seriously looking at.
Good luck in your job hunting endeavors!
(Dorsi Diaz is a freelance writer/publisher on the internet, a former small business owner and author on various topics including the Bailout Bill and other political hot potatoes)
Poll about taking a Survival Job
Would You Consider Taking a Survival Job Just to Make Ends Meet?
Overqualified And Underemployed In 'Survival Jobs'
- Great Article on Survival Jobs in this Tough Economy
Millions of Americans have found themselves out of work since the recession began, but even those who can find employment often must settle for jobs they're overqualified for.
The Pros and Cons of Taking a Survival Job
- Survival Jobs- Pros and Cons
Survival Job: Typically a low-end, low-paying job that a displaced job-seeker takes on a temporary basis (often as a last resort) when unemployed to cover basic living costs, in order to survive and avoid bankruptcy -- or worse.