Not Everyone has to start at the bottom. After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know! While this may be true in general, in today’s job market you need to be willing to start from the bottom… the VERY bottom. It’s not a test of whether you can operate at a higher level, it’s a test of whether you can bring the great attitude you have to make the job something more than it currently is.
Take the example of a young women with a Masters degree who ended up in a sales support role which required little to no schooling. Her job is to enter 200 names per month into a database. She could collect her salary and go home after 200 names, which would result in no upward movement. Instead, she worked everyday, coming up with new ideas to build her employers business. She entered 400 names per month, developed a webinar program for the company (which saved them a ton of money on conferences), developed a sales training program, and is now competing for a role as an Account Executive (with a pay raise!).
So I have to ask- What if she never took the job because she was “overqualified” for it? What if she wasn’t willing to start at the bottom?
The Harsh Reality
The harsh reality is that if you want a job in today’s market, you are competing against a global workforce who likely gets paid less than you and is expected to work harder than you want to. Even within your own market, employers have the pick of the litter when it comes to hiring who they want. There’s lots of skilled people to fill that Entry-Level manager position- and guess what he did… Started At The Bottom as a Customer Service Rep!
1 in 2 Graduates are Un/Underemployed- This isn’t going away. The Baby Boomers aren’t going to retire because they haven’t saved enough money and their portfolios have been decimated. The graduates are making it worse by getting educations in skills that aren’t commercially viable.
Entry Level Is No Longer Entry Level- Academic inflation is quickly changing the dynamics of what an “entry level” job out of college or university looks like. When everyone has a college degree, yours isn’t worth very much. Jobs that used to require highschool now require a degree because they CAN. One option is to take more school, but at a certain point, you will never get your return on investment.
People Will Work For Free- One of the largest trends in recent years are unpaid internships and volunteer positions. Smart students (who can afford it) are offering to work at companies for free just so they can have experience on their resume. When your competition is offering to do entry level work for free, how can you possibly be asking for money!?
You Would Be LUCKY To Start At The Bottom- I have talked to over 10 people in the last month who would do almost anything just so that they wouldn’t have to sit at home and apply for jobs. In 6 months, would you be better off working for minimum wage (gaining experience and filling a gap in a resume) or would you be better off having passed on that minimum wage job so that you could “wait for something better”?
Use Your Positive Attitude To Embrace Starting At The Bottom
I spent a whole post talking about why you need to check your attitude at the door and embrace optimism into your life. I wanted to make sure we are in touch with our attitudes, because your attitude is what allows you to start at the bottom and consistently outperform your competition every. single. time. Even if you have the WORST job in the world, if you do it better than anyone else, people will notice and respect you for it. Here’s what to do to keep positive and land that job at the bottom:
Remember That You Are NOT Entitled To Anything- I don’t care what your parents/teachers/guidance counsellor/friend/therapist/dog said, no one owes you anything. In this world, you have to go out and make a career and a future for yourself. If you are already there- GREAT! If you need help, email me and I gladly give it to you straight.
Volunteer- Volunteering is not only a great way to get experience for your resume, it will also connect you with like-minded people and allow you to give back to your community. Organizations will almost never refuse volunteers, so pick companies or non-profits that you are interested in and call them up to see if they need help!
Take Pride In Everything You Do- Extra effort in your personal life will show employers that you will give that extra effort in your work life. Whether it’s babysitting your nieces, doing repairs on your parents home, writing a thoughtful Facebook post, or even creating a piece of art- do it with 110% of your passion behind it. When you tell employers about your interests, this passion will undoubted shine through.
It’s tough out there. I know this. Just remember that it’s tough for everyone and if you aren’t willing to start from the bottom and work your way up, someone else will!