I was in my 20s and had just moved. I had been job searching for a while and had a couple of interviews, but wasn’t getting any job offers. I had had some temp work to help pay the bills, but I needed a permanent gig that would be reliable. I finally got an interview at a local private school with a very kindly gentleman who asked me all the usual questions and then he said very directly, “You know, you are an excellent candidate and I am very interested in hiring you, but I honestly think you would be bored with this job. I think you should wait for something better than this.” I was completely thrown off. I just said to him, “But I need a job!” And to be honest, if he’d offered it to me, I’d have taken it.
But he was right. Two weeks later, I had an interview across the road at another school and they hired me. I worked there for 3 years and loved the job. It was the first time I was stretched in my career and it gave me great skills that I still use today. I’m so glad that kind man didn’t offer me that job!
However, it taught me how hard it can be to say no to the thing that is easy and in front of you, rather than to reach for the harder or the unknown.
I have seen many students I work with do the same thing: sticking with the job they have done for years and know really well (serving at a restaurant, working in retail) rather than stretch into the unknown.
There are risks. It can be scary to step into a career job, and may result in waiting longer than you would want to. It may not work out right away. However, to shift into the career you’ve been training for and dreaming of, you need to start seeing yourself as working towards a “career” rather than working in a “job”. The place to start is in how you present yourself on your resume and in your cover letter.
There is a skill that needs to be learned in writing strong resume content. Many students write their resume to reflect that mindset by describing their job duties. A career resume shows skills that have been developed through multiple work experiences and that can be transferred into another role. For example, a person with three years of experience in a fast-food restaurant has amazing skills in working under pressure, meeting tight deadlines, solving problems and communicating. It isn’t always easy to show those to potential employers, however it is possible to learn!
Example: Morgan has worked at Wendy’s for two years as a Crew Member. She is applying to work as a Legal Assistant in a law firm. Her resume lists “Prepared food orders quickly” and “Kept restaurant clean”. Neither of these skills will be needed to work in a law office, so we can change them around to make them relevant.
Once you get the interview, you have to do the work of learning what to say and how to speak like a professional in your field, not a retail worker or high school student in a part-time job.. Every interview gives you experience. Every job gives you experience. Every experience gives you experience. Leverage what you have to get you where you want to go. And don’t be afraid to make use of career services in your community. Employment Ontario offers free careers services in most communities throughout the province. Many resources are available online and easily accessible.
The process of moving into a career and out of the part-time job mindset is all in your head. If you feel ready and take hold of the opportunity, you will rise up into it. Even if you have a few flops along the way, it’s all good learning. Your attitude of being a learner and willing to try will be the best favour you can give yourself.