According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American will have 7-10 occupations in their lifetime. I am 23 years old and I have already had twelve. I’ve bagged groceries, assisted a veterinarian, sold greeting cards, taught children, brewed coffee, mixed alcoholic drinks, waited tables, wrote up lesson plans for a daycare, checked out books at a library, sold time shares on the phone, did a voice recording for a commercial, and have taught English as a Second Language at a university.
At a time when the economy is at an all-time low, and people are begging for one job, I’ve managed to juggle three jobs while attending school full time. So let me give you the scoop on what to do – even though I haven’t worked at an ice cream parlor.
Be open and available to any opportunity the world provides you. Look at every flyer you pass. Copy down every number you see. Apply to places you frequent regularly – the local CVS, the library, the bank, the pub, etc. As the old expression goes, “don’t leave any rock unturned.” In fact, don’t leave any mountains unturned either! There might be a Sherpa job available if you look in the right place.
You are not beneath any line of work
I talk to many college students who complain about how hard it is to get a job, any job. I don’t blame them. It can be rather degrading to attend interview after interview only to be denied each time. Yet many of my peers I talk to have a specific job in mind: a clean cushie job with an office, a living salary, and benefits. After all, what the hell is the point of wasting thousands of dollars on a college education if you’re going to work at the local gas station or taco joint? Of course one should pursue their ideal line of work first. Yet if the pickings are slim, I would suggest searching new vineyards.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a blue collar or retail job. These jobs do not make you less of a person in any way. If anything, jobs like these build people skills, character, and empathy. At one of my retail jobs, my supervisor said:
You know how every citizen in Israel has to spend a year doing military service? Well I think every American should be drafted into one year of retail. After all, retail is such a big part of our culture and day to day interactions – everyone should know what it feels like to be the person behind the register, dealing with everyone else’s crap.
If it’s any consolation, you won’t have to do this job forever. Think of it as a temporary fix until you manage to get the job you actually want. Also, employers would rather see that you were working at McDonalds, than sitting around your house unemployed and playing xbox for three months. While I appreciate your efforts in saving the human race from aliens in Halo 3, I don’t think that reasoning will work with your employers.
What if I can’t get a blue collar/retail job? What if I can’t get any job?
When someone closes a door you need to open a window. Know what I mean? There is always a way out of any situation, you just have to make your own exit. And what if you’re thrown in a prison cell? Well, sharpen the nearest object into a pointy shiv and dig your way out! Be proactive! If there are absolutely no jobs in your area, not even a vacancy as a Walmart Greeter, it may be time to move or even start your own business.
Consider Jobs in Growing Fields
Since America has a fairly large population of aging baby boomers, many of the future jobs will be in geriatric fields, health care, home assistance, dental hygiene, and physical therapy. A degree in nursing or physical therapy will be about as useful as an oxygen tank on the moon.
Also, it goes without saying that the information technology field is growing at an explosive rate. Jobs as Network Systems and Data Communication analysts and computer software engineers are readily available for those with the right qualifications and experience. Let the recession do what it will, many people in my generation would rather go a winter without heat – than a week without the internet or a smartphone.
Improve Your Skills
Not just your ninja skills and extreme Bass fishing skills! I’m talking about skills that’ll make you money, skills that will put dollar signs in your employer’s eyes when they look at your resume. A list of the following skills are useful for obtaining future employment:
- The Ability to Speak a Second Language
- People Skills (duh!)
- Proficiency with technology
- The ability to type more than 60 words per minute
- Basic knowledge of Microsoft Office Programs
- And feel free to drag any other fun ability into the mix. Maybe you don’t want to tell your employer that you can burp the Canadian Anthem. But if you mention that you do something interesting like play the guitar, or that you do modeling in your free time, you’ll seem like a more well-rounded and interesting person.
There are simple and cheap ways that you can improve upon said skills. The library is one useful, FREE, and highly unused resource that you can use to improve upon any of these skills. There are dozens of books on language and technology at your disposal. Also, if you attend a university, there are often free courses you can take to improve your ability to type quickly or to make a spreadsheet in excel.
It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know
Clishes exist because they are true. Utilize your friends as you would the library. I know this makes me sound like a terrible person, but I don’t care because I have a job. Go through the entire contact list on your phone or Facebook to see if there is anyone you know who can connect you with a job opening. I obtained half my jobs just by having friends in the right areas. I acquired a job teaching at a university, even though I don’t have a degree, because I was friends with the head of the department. Long story short, I did her a favor once, and she returned it three-fold by giving me a job. Karma can be a bitch, but it can be your best friend too if you treat it right!
Lie. Lie and Wear Fire Proof Pants, So They Don’t Catch On Fire
I know this sounds terrible. But everyone lies a little at a job interview. Don’t tell tall tales, but it doesn’t hurt to embellish upon the truth. “I wasn’t employed this summer because I was volunteering for Habitat for Humanity,” sounds better than, “I couldn’t find a job, so I decided to work on my tan;” Even if you only volunteered a couple of times.
Don’t make up a bogus lie like, “I have 5 years’ worth of experience in marketing,” because then your employer will ask you for references and proof. But if your employer asks you something like, “Are you a people person?” It will probably be better to simply say “yes,” rather than, “I have no friends, but I’m really good at Solitaire.”
If someone took your food away, would you sit on the sofa until you dropped dead? No! Think the same way about your job. A job equals money, independence, food, and shelter. Maybe you won’t get a job the first time you apply, and maybe you won’t even get it the 30th time. But you will get one eventually if you keep trying. One of my friends went through 32 job interviews before he obtained his current job, but now he has his own place and is doing a job in his field of interest. The best things in life are worth struggling for, so welcome the struggle. The reward will be that much sweeter.
Oh…and one more thing, if this advice does help you to get a job – a really nice job with a company car, a six figure salary, paid vacations, and free medical insurance – don’t forget who gave you this wonderful advice when you are looking for a new hire.