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What are you doing to move beyond your “survival” job?

You’re working as a cashier, wondering when you will be able to move on to something better; you know you’re capable of doing more. So what are you doing about it?

First thing you need to decide is what that “something better” is. If you’re not sure what type of job you want, then it’s easy to be stuck and eventually be bored and unhappy. Do you want to return to the career you had in your own country or start a new dream job? An analogy used by employment counsellors is if you are trying to plan a vacation but don’t know where to go, you’ll probably stay at home. It’s the same with your job – if you don’t know what job you want, you’ll probably stay in the same job you are doing now.

Once you know the job that interests you, do your research. Find out more about the duties, the requirements and qualifications. There are many resources available such as www.workingincanada.gc.ca or www.workbc.ca. You can also look at detailed job postings or have an informational interview with someone in the industry. Regardless of your source, print out copies of the postings, job descriptions and qualifications you find and get your pen out.

Now assess and compare yourself. Put a check mark besides the skills and experience you already have. Put an “x” beside the skills, education and experience that you don’t have. Don’t worry about the number of skills you have or don’t have; that’s not important. What’s important is knowing what’s missing and seeing if you are willing to change it!

Ok, so what are the skills, experience or qualifications you are missing? Write them down. Ask yourself, are you willing to take the steps to get these? For example, if the job requires another four years of university education, are you willing to go back to school? If you are, then you have to figure out which school you should attend, what are the requirements to register for the school and if you need to take extra classes to upgrade.

What if the requirement is to use software you have never heard of before? Do an internet search or go visit your local library for an instruction manual. And if you realize that your computer skills are weak, take some classes when you are not scheduled to work. There are many schools that offer evening and weekend classes. Rather than just be stuck, this is your starting point to change.

Give yourself realistic deadlines to accomplish your new goals. It can be a few days (e.g. research), a few months and sometimes years. Write down your goals and steps you will take. Remind yourself what you have committed to and that you’re looking for something better.

And don’t discount your current job as not being very useful. It’s providing income while you prepare to move to another job. Depending on your workplace, you might be gaining important transferrable skills such as interpersonal and communication skills, working in teams or talking to customers. Don’t forget the times you had to fix unexpected problems and used your problem solving ability. These can be used in your resume and interviews when you’re ready to move beyond your “survival” job.

Jennifer4About the Author: Jennifer York is the manager of the Job Options BC program in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Coquitlam for ISSofBC. While working as an employment counsellor, she facilitated and coached immigrants, professionals and students in their job search, both in group and individualized sessions. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.

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