So, you’re stuck in a job for which you are probably overqualified and underpaid. This “survival work” is often what we have to take to stay afloat financially, especially during recessions and economic downturns — to deal with the pressures of rent or mortgage to pay, children to take care of and general daily expenses.
The question is, how do we handle survival work while trying to move forward in our careers?
There are several key things to keep in mind. Read on for some helpful tips:
If the work that you are doing is totally unrelated to your career goals or education, it is important to consider taking steps that relate to your goals. Think about your place of work and the positions they have that might be more in line with your experience; see if you can take on some projects in those departments. Let’s say you are an Event Planner by trade, or are aspiring to be one; does your place of work have any events that you can assist with? If not, consider thinking of some events that you can take the lead on, maybe a monthly pot luck or after work socials? Or maybe you can join or begin a social committee.
If your present line of work does not allow opportunities for you to pursue, consider volunteering with an organization on weekends or after work that does involve your career goals. Perhaps you’re an Accountant, but cannot find work in that field; consider calling non-profits or smaller organizations to see if there is an opportunity to volunteer some time to get their books in order.
Useful Volunteering Links:
Also, consider joining a recognized professional organisation in your field. You might have to pay for membership, so do some research into costs and choose the one that best meets your budget and needs. The benefits of joining these organizations can be many. They often have job boards for members. They might also offer monthly networking events where you could meet other members of the organization to help you expand your network; if you’re lucky, you may just be in the right place at the right time for someone to give you a head’s up on a position they have, or know of. In these organizations you will probably also meet people who are, or have been in your position and they may have tips for “coping in the meantime.” If nothing else, being a member of professional associations allows you to add something highly recognizable to your resume.
Useful Professional Association listings:
Another possibility, depending on your place of work, is to find out what professional development opportunities your current employer might offer. This may include sending you to conferences, paid courses or assisting with tuition for educational upgrading.
Sometimes it becomes easier to stay where you are because it’s “safe”. This is true in many cases and the thought may be appealing because you consider the fact that you are already a part of the organization and are guaranteed a pay cheque. If that is the case, then perhaps you should consider working hard on moving up in the company in which you are already a part.
Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, one of the biggest dangers of survival work is becoming stuck in a rut. Getting caught in a rut may lead to feelings of frustration and anxiety. Instead of worrying about what you don’t have, focus on where you want to be and make things happen.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on survival jobs; maybe you can share with other readers what your experiences have been. Or maybe you have some more tips? Feel free to join the discussion by leaving us a comment.