Don't "Take Just Anything"!

by: Joanne Meehl

Tired of your current job and want to quit?

Sick of being unemployed ?

Tempted to "take just anything"?


Here are three reasons to NOT "take just anything". (There IS one exception, and I'll get to that later.)

1. You'll be joining the throngs of others doing the same thing, so competition is more than fierce for a job that is obviously not your first choice. Perhaps it's in another field, or perhaps it's a title you held 15 years ago and NOT where you want to be. You will have a hard time convincing the hiring manager that this "anything" job is the love of your life. Who they pick to fill the job has nothing to do with your sense of urgency about "getting something". They're still going to pick the person who fits the job and who will stay around when things get better. Plus, putting yourself through an exercise likely to fail will lead to you saying "I can't even get a job at ___, so something must be really wrong with me". Do you really want to put yourself in that state of mind?

2. You are probably not yet at the end of your rope, even if you might feel like it. Meaning, have you really tried everything in your job search? Other than checking ads and asking friends about openings, have you been networking with people you don't already know? And doing other, uncomfortable things that usually work better than just checking the postings online? Recently a new client said he'd been looking for a job for almost two years. When we audited his job search activities, he realized he'd been looking effectively only occasionally, perhaps a total of 3-4 months out of that 24 months. Now I don't say this to blame the victim, at all. Instead, I want you to see that you can control more than you realize - and that is good news. So make the changes now: you'll be amazed at the doors you can open.

3. If you have a choice, do you really want this job on your resume? How will you explain it when you decide to leave in a year or two when the economy improves and you are interviewing at that point in time? How will you convince the HR resume screener or hiring manager that you took the job as the next step in your career? You won't be able to. And don't count on sympathy for you given how many fewer jobs are out there now. An unspoken thought they'll have is that you are someone who just doesn't plan well. And if you can't plan your own career, why should they trust you in their company?

Those are the main reasons I say "Don't!" when it comes to taking "just anything".

So what should you do instead? Here are some ideas:
Yes, many professionals are doing this. It brings in some money. Print a basic business card that says "Marketing Consultant" or "Network Systems Expertise", and tell your network you are doing this "in addition to looking for a full-time position". You never know; you may want to continue with a part-time consultancy even after you land a good job, or you may want to do ONLY the consulting. To learn more, connect with groups of consultants in your field, and in your geography.
Contracting and Temping
Some of the busiest people right now are those who are placing people in contract or temp positions. Companies are filling openings right now this way, because they aren't yet sure the demand for a W-2 employee is there yet. The placement people would be paying you. Sometimes such arrangements become long-term or "permanent". For more info, check for placement companies such as Robert Half International, Adecco, Manpower, and similar.
Create an internship related to your career. These would be unpaid, probably, but it doesn't cost much to approach a company or non-profit to offer a proposal. Draw up a packaged that addresses the tasks/goals of the position, who you'd work with, what the company would gain, what you would gain, and the length of the internship, among other details. These can be a month long or longer, and you can do multiple ones. Now this could lead to being hired, but more likely your experience there can be a valuable way for you to acquire new, in-demand skills, and it will update your resume.
There's always an exception to the "Don't take just anything!" rule: If there truly are no longer any opportunities in your field, and if your unemployment is about to run out, and you cannot arrange a mortgage payment plan with your bank or payments to others to whom you owe money, then "anything" will have to do. Present-day reality trumps other considerations, and your family comes first. But it won't be easy, for some of the reasons cited above.

If you must take a "survival job", then while you're on this job, look for ways that let you do work that will help you land the job after that. Create projects; add to your skill set; seek out ways you can do what's substantive, and add those things to your resume; and keep networking.

Whatever you decide, consider the long-term strategy that's best for you and your career. Because if your career funds your life, and your family's life -- which it does -- then "taking anything" can hurt more than it can help.


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