You can’t always get what you want out of every job, but you might get what you need. Here’s our argument for taking the worst job and boosting your career because of it.
You’re bright-eyed. You’re bushy-tailed. You’ve got your resume in hand and you’re ready to step into the brave new world of work. You fire off 15 proper applications, each painstakingly crafted. You hear nothing. If you’re lucky, you get a polite, but firm “No, thanks.” But one place finally sends you an offer. It’s a smaller place, or a far-away place, or a place with barebones benefits and meager salary, or some combination of all. Do you take it?
Chandria Lucious Harris, a multi-hyphenate career guidance guru, human resources expert and CEO of Hire Cultures, says, “When you’re looking at entry-level positions, you can’t look at it as your favorite job. You don’t get your favorite job when you first start.
But if you have grit and resolve, that “worst job” can boost your career. Here’s how.
You get experience.
The definition of “experience” varies depending on your field. It can be years on the job, or something technical (pro tip from Harris: Read the job description to find out what experience means for the job). Regardless, you need it.
“Entry-level roles are for entry-level professionals,” Harris says. “In most cases you won’t be in charge, you won’t lead. Even if you’ve done some leadership, it’s not to the magnitude of what this employer needs to oversee an entire flock.”
If you take the professional part to heart by mastering your tasks,and listening and learning, you earn more responsibilities… and more experience.
You build skills.
A 2017 Urban Institute study found that 25 percent of college graduates were overqualified for their jobs in 2015. On top of that, the rate is high for workers straight out of college in their early 20s compared with workers in their late 20s.
You may want to take that job anyway because while being overqualified is the worst, you’re improving your current skill set and learning new ones. Harris warns that jobs only become “the worst” when you’re shot down or discouraged.
“You have to sit back and be accountable for why you don’t like it,” Harris says. “Consider the facts. They won’t let you lead. Are you trying to lead too soon? Are your evaluations being dinged because you don’t have the right etiquette?”
Reflection will help you face your fears. That’s a skill worth developing.
You are in.
Work environments are their own beast, and there’s no substitute for seeing your chosen industry in action.
“If you’ve never been in there before, you’d think everything is the worst,” Harris says. She’s heard it all: I wasn’t able to coordinate this event, they’re so serious about roles and order. “Well that’s the workplace, that’s what they want you for,” she says.
“Take a step back and look at it as if you were in charge. You wouldn’t let an employee with six-months’ experience take on a big project. Because it will cost someone money. It’s on the boss’ shoulders.”
You create a safety net.
“No one’s going to have all the bells and whistles for you when you get started, but I highly recommend you stay 12 months to 24 months in the job,” Harris says.
Obviously, a steady paycheck and healthcare benefits are vital for living a modern life. But, having a solid track record gives you credit and reliability when it comes to buying a house and purchasing a car.
“You have job security if you’re there for two years. You have longevity on the job,” Harris says. “If you don’t have that, it’ll be hard to get a loan because you don’t have that security.”
Even if you’re just renting or leasing, good credit helps.
You can still make moves.
While you’re toiling away, you can be making moves on the side (#sidehustlegamestrong), like freelancing or starting your own business or saving money.
In her experience coaching, Harris says eager young professionals need to find outlets for greatness. “For instance, if you really like leading, you’ve been a leader since you’ve been in school, don’t stop,” she says. “Find an avenue, volunteer, create a network of people who are vouching for you.”
That way, you don’t have to rely on your job to provide space for it. Even Harris has firsthand experience with that: “I needed to find other means to be great, so I started my own [career consultant] business. I found a way to do what I needed to do at my job, but at home I could blog or get on Instagram, have a voice, and have people to listen to me.”