November 26, 2009
Survival jobs: Something to be thankful for
In the past year and a half, I've spoken with dozens of workers who've gone from writing loans, press releases, or software manuals to driving a school bus, ringing up groceries, or hawking cell phones at the mall.
While these folks might not add their stopgap jobs to their professional resume, they're not necessarily hiding them from friends and acquaintances. Nor should they. If ever there was a time for supporting the employment choices people make, it's now.
Still, I've seen far too many people get that pitying look on their face or cluck "What a shame!" when hearing that an out-of-work friend or colleague took a job for which they were wildly overqualified in order to make ends meet.
Alan, a reader who was laid off from his public relations position a year ago, has recently been manning a booth at home shows for a bathroom remodeling company, a part-time job he described as "somewhat embarrassing."
"I try and talk people into getting their bathrooms remodeled," said Alan, who's actively looking for a full-time communications job. "It's definitely not something I'd be doing if I had my druthers. But it's extra money and sorely needed right now."
I asked Alan if any friends, family, or acquaintances had voiced their disapproval of his interim gig.
"Are you kidding?" he said. "They totally get it. Many of them are in the same boat."
I would love to hear more stories of friends and neighbors supporting each other like this. Despite being frustrated by the job market, those working survival jobs are likely proud of their flexibility, resourcefulness, and ability to keep food on the table. We should be too.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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