In my early 20s I worked very hard on improving my engineering skills thinking that was the ticket to a secure future. But it’s the intangibles that secure your future regardless of the status of the job market. Those intangibles are things that don’t necessary come with a college degree, such as:
- Strong Work Ethic,
- Ability to Lead People or
- Willingness to Serve.
Times of unemployment are times to strengthen your values, strengthen weakness and mature your strengths. Working on these things will make you a better employee when you do find a job. What follows are ways to create your opportunities.
If you are having a hard time finding a job, consider volunteering part time at a charity or other non-profit. Volunteer to lead a project or team. Be faithful in your commitment. Develop project management, people and leadership skills.
I often challenge people, who hold leadership titles in a company, to test their leadership ability by leading a group of people who are volunteers. There are people who only have followers because of an organizational chart. They are not leaders! If you can lead volunteers, people who are giving up their time and don’t have to be there, you can lead in any company. Being faithful to your commitment strengthens your work ethic, because you don’t need to be there either! Willing to serve others carries to a job. People who work bounded by their job description never venture to new opportunities. By helping others on the job you become a team player. Remember, non-profits also have paid staff and being a committed volunteer can open doors.
The Company’s Front-Line can be an Open Door
Another consideration is to take an entry level job that only requires a high school diploma, such as working at your local McDonald’s or any grocery store. These companies are corporations with headquarters consisting of all levels of management. Don’t get caught up in your college degree and thinking certain jobs are beneath you. Being faithful, diligent and leading on the ‘front-line’ of these companies can also open doors to higher levels of management in the companies.
I’ve been unemployed once in my life. I have both a Bachelor and Master degree in Mechanical Engineering. I took a job as a customer service agent for an airline to have a job, while I looked for a ‘real’ job. I got a lot of grief from fellow unemployed engineers who were waiting out Boeing layoffs and freezes. But I was working and I did the job to the best of my ability (and not wearing the ‘this job is so beneath me’ chip on my shoulder). It wasn’t long that opportunities presented themselves and I moved into a management position I have now in the company. I’ve enjoyed the ride.
Creativity is Birthed out of Determination
Create your opportunities in this current job market. Developing your intangible qualities moves you from survivor to a thriver. You may even birth an entrepreneurial endeavor during this time. Great leaders are needed everywhere all the time!