Is a survival job for you?

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A survival job is entry level work that has low pay. Usually, it is not related to your profession. Or if it is, the job is a lower-level position. This is why it is taken temporarily. It’s your job while waiting for other career opportunities and mainly to pay the bills.

For most newcomers, it is a fallback when they are not able to practice their professions right away. Some need to undergo licensing or go back to school to earn Canadian credentials. Others prefer taking on any job and keeping busy rather than just staying at home and waiting for job application results. As mentioned, survival jobs help you pay the bills but they can also be good opportunities to meet people, practice communication skills and even expand your network.

How to choose a survival job

Choose one that is related to your field, skills, hobbies or personality to ensure a higher probability of being hired. If you already know something about the work and are genuinely enthusiastic about it, chances are the company will hire you even if they know that you will only stay temporarily. Being in the same industry also gives you the opportunity to learn something new about your field. This can count as Canadian experience to beef up your resume.

Another consideration is the schedule. Make sure that you don’t get too many shifts – it will cut your job hunting time or make it hard for you to go to interviews. Also, choose a workplace nearest your home (use for a more efficient search). This will be convenient and practical especially if you need to take night shifts.

Some tips when applying for a survival job:

  1. Make a targeted resume. Include only the job experience relevant to the position you are applying for. The article 5 tips to tailor and update your resume will guide you.Emphasize soft skills such as a strong work ethic, flexibility and being a team player.
  2. Be humble. Don’t assume that because you are over-qualified, the job is in the bag.
  3. Show enthusiasm for the company and the position.
  4. Prepare for the interview as you would for any job. Research! It would help to know something about the company and its clientele.Read: How to research a prospective employer before an interview.
  5. Practice answering common interview questions.
  6. Come on time and dress professionally.

Don’t give up your dream!

While there is no shame in being in a survival job, be careful not to make it your comfort zone. If this is not what you want to do, there is little or no prospect of growth if you stay. Regard the survival job as a stepping stone to your career success. Always stay positive. Your dream job could be just around the corner.

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Community Resources

Learn more about “Recognition Counts!” A financial assistance program for skilled immigrants in Manitoba here: SEED Winnipeg.

Employment agencies like Pinnacle and Randstad can help you find temporary or contractual work.

Careers: ‘More-than-Just-Survival’ Jobs by Marcela Mayo from the Canadian Newcomer magazine provides insights on the various types of survival jobs and where to find them.

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