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Keep Your Chin Up-Survive Survival Job

fast-food-jobs-300x209Everyone has goals that don’t get achieved quickly enough. Often job seekers can’t get their first-choice job and must accept a survival job. When this happens, and it happens a lot, it is critical to keep your chin up.

“Keep your chin up” is an idiom that means “stay positive.” In survival jobs, the biggest victim can be self-esteem. As the main marketer of your skills, you have to feel positive about yourself to promote your qualities. Here are a few reminders to keep you positive if a survival job is dragging your mood down.

  • Know that you are not alone.

You are in the majority. Very few people gain their professional job goals right away. Most people experience work that isn’t their top choice as they move along the path to achievement.Check this link for examples of ISSofBC grads who benefited from survival jobs and then moved beyond them.

  • You’re building relationships.

Survival jobs give you network contacts and sometimes very helpful friends. What you’re doing may not be interesting but there’s a great chance that who you’re working with is very interesting. Most people are overqualified for work they do, so your work buddies may be in the same situation as you. Use this opportunity to learn from them, get ideas and even just enjoy being with someone who can understand you.

  • You’re building skills and knowledge.

Survival jobs can improve your skills, especially language skills. Engineers have worked at Home Depot in order to learn and correctly pronounce the names of tools they need. Professors work as math or science tutors until they get a chance at a higher education classroom. Countless MBAs work in administrative assistance jobs. Each of these professionals is learning, building Canadian experience and growing. Even if the job itself provides minimal advancement opportunities, it serves as a platform that lets you spend time learning through free online programs like Coursera or Alison.com. Continued learning will help you hang on to your self-esteem.

  • You are growing as a person.

Survival jobs don’t come with built-in status, so you become your own protector/promoter. In your professional job of the past, people just naturally deferred to you because of the position you held. Now, you are learning to command respect based on who you are and how you communicate. This is an important life skill that makes you stronger, more assertive and yet more diplomatic. Plus, the ability to empathize is priceless.

  • You are valuing yourself beyond work.

Time spent in a survival job teaches us that each person is much more than the limited definition of a job description. You have abilities beyond the small tasks of your job. You have to keep believing this. You are who you are and not what you do.

There are moments when highly-trained workers in survival jobs feel disappointment. Certainly, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity regardless of the job they have. You should never be yelled at, sworn at or called names. You have the power to end a survival job if you receive unfair treatment.

Surviving survival jobs requires having a plan: a timeframe for exiting and options for change. No one is ever stuck, although sometimes it feels like it. Change may be just a conversation away. But that conversation will need you to be at your best. Protect your self-esteem so that you can move beyond survival work.


Gwen PawlikowskiAbout the Author:
Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.

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