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Monday, October 24, 2005


Stepping Back to Entry Level Work.

One of my newsletter readers wrote:

"I've been out of work for more than a year and I'm getting desperate. I tried to get one of your "survival" jobs but even got turned down by McDonald's and Walmart. Help!"

My response:

You would think that an employer would jump at the chance to hire you compared with typical applicants for entry-level jobs who often have no work experience, questionable customer service skills, a minimal work ethic, and limited communication abilities.

However, look at it from an employer's point of view.

Are you going to fit in with the rest of the team? Do you speak the primary language of your coworkers? Do you anticipate quitting the job as soon as you find something better? Do you feel demeaned (and let it show) by work you consider beneath you? Do you put all of your experience and salary history on your applications? Are you much older than the other workers?

A potential employer can probably see your worth to the organization but regardless of your experience, you are going to need some basic training, and he is weighing whether it's worth the time (and cost) to train you when you might leave in a week or two.

Some suggestions: recognize what is going on in the employer's mind and confront it head on - but be truthful so you don't blow the opportunity for someone coming behind you. If you can see your way clear to committing for a certain period of time, it might be helpful in eliminating his fear that you won't be around long enough to make hiring you worthwhile.

Leave prior salary information off your application or write in "will discuss at interview." You then have a chance to talk to the employer on a personal level about your previous salary levels and why you are now willing to accept entry level wages. Be honest about your predicament and sell how even a few months of your knowledge and skills could help his business, increase sales or the level of customer service, and help build a smooth-functioning team.

Sell your ability to work with a wide variety of people and explain your interest in learning his business without any sense of the work being something less than you have done before. Sell him on your desire to work, to be productive, to practice and maintain your customer service skills. Explain that you are miserable being unemployed because you have always worked and you feel more pride in yourself when you are part of a successful organization, regardless of the type of industry it is in or the actual pay.

Reprinted from The Worker's Edge, available at:

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