A couple weeks ago we ran a question asking how to get out of retail jobs when that’s all you’ve ever done. This response was so good, we turned it into it’s own post…
I went from retail to an entry level office job to a full-blown social worker, but it took time. However, take it from me, you are NEVER EVER too old to make the leap! One of my favourite sayings is “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” So true — we waste too much time wishing and not enough time on action.
Don’t worry about making a giant leap right away, just set some small plans into motion, and you can build on that momentum as you achieve things. The good thing about retail and restaurant work is, that it can often be something you dial back from full time to part time on, ’til you no longer need it at all.
Here’s what you can do to get the ball rolling…
What exactly is it you WANT to do, or, what else do you ENJOY doing?
If it’s something you can create, such as art, photography, weaving etc — start small with it as a sideline and see if you can’t build it up into a business. Whether it be just working weekend fairs/events, or local markets, or working online. If this leads you into applying for a part time job in a photography studio, or as an art gallery attendant, or for an office clerk for the municipal organization that organizes weekend events in your area — yay!
Have an online presence
You can then print some business cards with your website listed, and pass them out/post them up, where ever you go. Make sure to put your hobby on your resume, then the HR folks can see your work online. Gives you credibility.
Volunteer for a cause you believe in
Don’t over think it. What’s dear to your heart? Children’s groups, women’s organizations, environmental causes etc. You will make a ton of connections, and there is always some sort of paid jobs that go with these initiatives — whether it be in the office, a hands-on position, IT, accounting, etc. Often doing what you love as a part time paid or unpaid opportunity, will lead you away from the current job you are no longer fond of. Plus who better to get a paying job with a great cause, than a volunteer that the hiring folks have probably already met and can get a good feel about?
Apply in person to places you’d like to work, whenever you can
Even if you can’t get past the receptionist — hey — make that person remember you, so they do pass your resume on. Dress appropriately when you go in, and have something memorable on you — a sparkly pin, a cute bright purse, that tiny sliver of colour in your bangs (where appropriate!). Smile at them, and make a comment after your greeting, like “Hello. Oh, I like your earrings! Where are they from?” and THEN do the “here’s my resume bit.” And then always mail a handwritten thank you note after an interview
If there are courses, lectures or seminars on any topics that interest you, go to them
It doesn’t matter that an astro-physics talk or a mini ballroom dancing lesson isn’t tied right into what you think you want to do. Go for the chance to make connections, broaden your mind, and enjoy life outside of the job you don’t like.
If there are classes you’d like to take but can’t afford
I know this sounds risky, but… mention it in conversations to family and friends. You’re not asking for money per se, you’re letting people know without saying it, that you want a different life.
My real life example: Because I now make fairly good coin, and appreciate other opportunities people gave me along the way (like hiring me when I had no experience), I wanted to give back to another woman who is struggling. A friend of mine who’s still in retail has talked a few times about how she wished she could take some part-time classes. So I offered to pay. She’s signed up now for a night class at a local college. I paid the fee (I’m getting the tax credit for it), and for the textbook. We’ve agreed it’s her Christmas and birthday gifts from me, for the next two years. And she knows it’s a one-time thing — I can’t fund her whole education.
I am hoping once she gets a taste, she’ll move heaven and earth to do more. If that means a part time job on top of her full time one, whatever, but the main thing was, I wanted her to know that someone believes in her. And I bet there is someone out there who believes in you. Hey, it’s worth a shot!