I failed my junior college and went through national service in the army, and came out to the market after service, to face the worst recession in the 1980s. Unemployment was my daily reflection.
I was a proud young man who imagined that my talents and intelligence were good enough for just about anything I cared to put an effort in. But then, in hindsight, there are millions of others who are more talented, more intelligent, more educated, and much more humble than me at that time.
I kept looking for jobs, flipping through the recruitment pages of the newspapers every day religiously. In the initial weeks, I was looking at jobs that promised an air-conditioned office with good remuneration and perks. Progressively over the weeks and months, reality began to set in. I was not a college graduate. I had no experience. I was, in a nutshell, ordinary and not special, in the eyes of the recruiters.
Then, I began to look for any job possibility. I applied for jobs such as despatch riders, trainee cooks, administrative clerks, outdoor sales, and so on. I literally called and wrote in to hundreds of companies. Eventually, I did land a job, when I applied for a job at a government laboratory testing facility, and got a job as a laboratory assistant testing for food and material samples. I was paid around US$300 a month, and could not afford much of anything. But I was elated I had a job. And then, I went on to other things, including digital publishing and interactive media, went on to study for a long time in my research interests, which eventually defined my careers and my business ventures.
If I had not dropped my ego and pride, and started to recognize reality, I would have been one of the many people who had become unemployed for months and years, even decades. I know of some people who were tertiary educated, and because of some misplaced pride, stayed unemployed for years and even decades.
Every day you are unemployed, you are one day further from landing a job. The longer you stay unemployed, the further you are behind your peers who have jobs, and will be seen progressively as unemployable by recruiters. If you are unemployed for years or longer, recruiters will find it hard to even consider you for any role, since you seem to have no motivation to even get a job for so long.
Conversely, if you are employed, in whatever job, you have a fighting chance to land a job you like at some point, because you will have a foundation to step on, and to step off from. No job is too low, too menial, too mundane, for anyone. We are all equals before God, in whatever guise, capabilities, limitations, we may have. Taking any job, however difficult it may be, shows character, responsibility, and strength, and will be assets to be considered by recruiters. In whatever job, do not give up learning. If the job has longer hours and does not pay well, go to the neighborhood public library and borrow books to keep learning. Whenever possible, learn something new and relevant. If there are jobs that may not pay well, but provide great learning and practical opportunities, do not turn them down.
Pride is the worst enemy of progress, and the fastest road to oblivion. In any job, there are great learning opportunities, as long as you are willing to learn and willing to face reality. Every job can be a great foundation for you to build on, and to develop new relationships and networks. Face every job with grit and enthusiasm, and people you meet will appreciate your good work ethic and amicable attitude, and new doors will open.
Seamus Phan has 33 years of professional experience. Polymath Problem-Solver & Strategist – Leadership, Cybersecurity, Branding, Crisis, Scientist, Artist, Author, Aviation, and Theologian. Some articles are reproduced at McGallen & Bolden, where he is CTO and Head of Content. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2020. All rights reserved.