It’s said that those about to enter the workforce are likely to have at least 17 jobs over the course of their career! Why the large number? Are millennials too picky? Or have they just realised that every job – even the bad ones – provide opportunities, and therefore they’re more willing to try their hand at anything? That’s not to say you should make a career of hopping from one job to another. Changing roles annually won’t do you any favours when it comes to your cv, but staying for a couple of years before moving on doesn’t look too bad.
Every job, regardless of title, will expose you to different workplaces, industries and customers. It will help you ascertain what you like and what you don’t like. You may love the food and wine side of restaurant work, but not the interaction with diners. Sales may challenge you, but not necessarily in a retail store environment. A graduate program may show you that your dream career is not what you thought it would be. Each role will help you work out what is/is not for you, getting you closer to finding out exactly what you love doing.
Working in any capacity provides valuable work experience. Any role in which you’ve been productive looks better on a cv than a blank space. Recruiters would rather see a part-time role with no relevance to their industry on a cv, than a cv with no work experience. Having a job shows that you can be relied upon to go to work and have taken on responsibility. It shows that you’ve interacted with at least a boss and possibly co-workers and customers.
Skills and perhaps qualifications will be gained as you work. It may be simple things such as operating a switchboard, using a particular software package or being able to identify a range of exotic fruits and vegetables. But in each case you’ve had to put your mind to learning something new. These skills may not relate to your dream career, but they show that you’re capable and willing to learn.
So many roles these days are obtained via the ‘hidden’ job market. These are roles that are not formally advertised, but secured through network referrals. Every job you take on will enable you to build your network of contacts. A legal firm may not have suited you, but the boss’ spouse may work in a Not-For-Profit which is of interest. Childcare may have helped you support yourself at university but is not where you see yourself long-term. However a work colleague may have contacts at an advertising agency which is more in line with your studies. Regardless of your current role you will build relationships and expand your network which can only increase your chances for great opportunities.
Finally, each job you take on is the chance to obtain a professional reference. Almost every role you apply for will ask for details of professional referees – someone who can attest to your work performance. They can confirm that you commit yourself to a task and are punctual (assuming that you are). They can verify that you conduct yourself professionally and work well within a team (assuming that you do).
So don’t despair if your current role isn’t really for you. Every job provides opportunities and is one step closer to the role you really want.