Unemployed and Have To Take A Survival Job? Then Be Like A Coal Miner!

Years ago when I was unemployed, I felt I was digging in a deep dark pit of despair, searching for any glimmer of hope that would move my family forward financially.

Unemployed? Don't wallow in survival job, dig like a coal miner!

At that point in my life I was in a very dark place emotionally. Blindly sending my generic resume out to everyone was definitely not working. As more and more time passed and I remained unemployed, I felt like my chances of landing a job interview were dwindling. Then, after exhausting all my savings, I was forced to swallow my pride and take a survival job as a telemarketer. I knew it was not going to be a cake walk. I knew that I would have to dig even deeper, if I had any hope of seeing the light of day in my chosen career.

No longer unemployed but in a survival job?  Here’s how I dug my way out…

In my spare time, I chose not to wallow in despair or pity. Instead I chose to really dig into my networks and let my family, extended family, my friends and practically everyone I met know that I was looking for new employment opportunities. After a few months of my mining my networks, I came across a diamond of an opportunity. Through a friend of a friend I found stable employment for more money; I was able to leave the survival job and move forward in my career.

Here are three things I did to dig myself out of the unemployment trench:

  • I took a survival job that allowed me to: a) gain new skills and b) keep my existing skills up to date. This way I’d be even more valuable to potential employers. You see, my background was in commercial imports and exports which was more of an administrative position. While I could have taken a higher paying survival job in general labour, it would have been harder for me to work my way back into an administrative role. So I took a lower paying survival job in telemarketing that allowed me to keep working my communication, customer service and organizational skills.
  • I used the survival job as a way to collect myself and reorganize my job searching strategy. When I was stressed and depressed looking for work my body language changed to that of defeat and desperation. Hiring managers had a knack for picking up my stress levels and in turn chose to hire more confident applicants to join their teams. I therefore used the survival job as a means to bring in some much needed funds and stability back into my life. With a regular income again, my attitude and my body language shifted and I appeared more confident to hiring managers.
  • I viewed the survival job as a means to an end, not the end. While unemployed I reminded myself that the survival job was never going to be my forever job. Yes, I had to take a position that was below my skill level, but I took steps to ensure that I would not stay in it too long. I knew that the longer I stayed in the survival job, the more comfortable it would become and the harder it would be to leave. So, in my spare time I would network and continue to search for other employment opportunities until one finally came my way. (Years later I ended up working with one of the managers I met while on the survival job! We had both risen to more senior positions, so I was glad I had kept a positive attitude while in the survival job and I hadn’t burned any bridges.)

My Challenge To You:

If you’re unemployed and need to take a survival job, try to find one that will allow you to build new skills or maintain existing ones that will be marketable to future employers in the field or sector where you ultimately desire to work. Turn the survival job into an opportunity for growth. Don’t despair, dig deeper like a coal miner… you’re more likely to find a diamond!




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