Dear NIC Online:
I am finding it hard to make ends meet as a newcomer, and thinking of applying for survival jobs. Will doing a survival job hurt my career in the long run?
-Desperate Job Seeker
Dear Desperate Job Seeker:
A lot of newcomers leave behind illustrious careers and positions in search of a better future in Canada. However, landing a job immediately is never a guarantee and that is when the panic factor starts setting in. A survival job helps to tide you over till you find the right job in your profession.
A few factors to consider before taking a survival job are:
Working multiple jobs or long hours translates into not enough time left to work towards your profession of choice. If you are already committed to a full-time job, chances are at the end of the day you just want to fall in bed and sleep! The best type of job would be one that leaves you enough time to continue searching for your dream job.
On the other hand, there are only so many job applications you can send out in a day, and the clock will tick by very slowly unless you make sure to keep yourself active. Idle time can also increase your anxiety and frustration about not hearing back from employers. Utilize your time wisely by networking and volunteering in exchange for valuable experience.
This is the biggest factor that will shape your decision. You need to ask yourself if you are rushing yourself to get any job, even if it is at the bottom of the ladder. Can you hold out till you get a stable, higher-paying job in your field? It can be frightening to see your savings account depleting so rapidly, but think of it as a long-term investment to attain your goal. Don’t be hasty.
However, with a survival job, you have the assurance that you can cover the essential living costs. Knowing that you have a steady income can go a long way as a financial crutch till you get your bearings in Canada.
Keep in mind that most survival jobs don’t pay well, and the lower salaries may require you to make realistic changes in your lifestyle.
The biggest road block to joining the workforce as a newcomer is the lack of Canadian experience. Survival jobs can offer a two-fold solution by helping you pay bills, and racking up Canadian experience at the same time. Ideally, try to find a job in a field related to your profession.
This can also be a great time to get your toes wet and learn about Canadian work culture. Merely being employed and knowing you are contributing to the society, can boost your self-confidence, and increase your optimism for the future.
Beware of getting comfortable and complacent in a survival job which does not further your career. You can be in danger of your skills getting outdated, and lacking the will to get another job.
In the end, you are the only one who can make this decision, but remember to prioritize your needs in order of importance. Best of luck!