Many graduates, young professionals and people who have recently been made redundant or ‘laid off’ are required to accept a ‘survival job’ whilst looking for employment in their chosen industry.
Typically, a survival job is classified as being a low-paid and often customer facing role, that someone seeking employment would take on a temporary basis whilst looking for other work more suited to their skills and experience. A survival job enables bills such as rent, utilities and food to be covered. Jobs that could possibly be described in some circumstances as being survival roles, might be waitressing, bar work, supermarket work or a basic admin role in an office.
It can be disheartening to have to admit to yourself and your family that you’ll need to accept a survival job position. If you’re a recent graduate, then you might find such a job to be somewhat beneath you, particularly if you have huge student loan debts and your family has spent a great amount of money on your education. You simply never imagined when you completed your BSc degree, that a matter of months later, you would be stacking supermarket shelves for a living. However, there are some real positives to take from working in a survival position, so make sure that you bear these in mind.
If you’re relocating to a capital city such as London, in search of work, then the best place to be living in whilst you’re looking for work, is London. Therefore, even if you’re working in a job paying minimum wage, but get to interview for graduate positions in top firms whilst doing so, then this places you at much more of an advantage to candidates who are applying for roles from hundreds of miles away in their home towns. Recruiters like job-seekers who are local as they are able to interview and fill positions with speed and minimum hassle.
From a motivation perspective, as much as many of us in employment dream of sitting at home watching TV all day, many people who are out of work for long periods of time can actually feel quite depressed. So if taking a survival job means that you get out of the house each day and into a workplace where you’ll be able to keep busy and socially active, then this is an important positive to take from the experience.
You may find the thought of this to be ridiculous, but it’s quite possible that you’ll actually learn some important skills in your survival role that you could put to use in a future job that you’re more suited to. For instance you could improve or develop your customer-service skills, cash register or switchboard operating, touch-typing, a professional phone manner and also be exposed to new software packages that you may not have used before.
When you accept a survival role, it’s important to know exactly what hours you’ll be working, so that you’re able to have time to look for other work in an industry that you’re passionate about entering. If you end up working extremely long hours, then you may not have time to attend interviews or visit recruitment consultants. Make sure you know the shift patterns that you’ll be expected to work before you accept a position. Also, be sure to check out how much the competition is paying, so that you’re aware of the going rate.
Finally, always remember that taking a survival job is merely a temporary measure. So long as you’re comfortable that you’re not doing anything against the law or against your own morals, then you should treat it as a stepping stone to your future career.