Saturday, April 2, 2011

Just a Paycheck?

After moving with my husband after he got a job last summer and leaving a permanent full-time teaching position, I'm experiencing the harsher side of job searching- lowering my standards.  

It's kind of like really wanting a 
Homemade German Chocolate Cake (see my glue-stick in the background :))
 but settling for a 

 Still satisfies, but because you know what you're missing- it hurts a little.

In my case, because we needed money, I had to lower mine.  I couldn't find work I knew I was capable of doing and that would be a good fresh start for me.  I took it to get experience, at least break even on bills and learn more in the corporate environment.  I know that as a recruiter, new graduates wouldn't even listen to job opportunities at $9 an hour because they were "holding out for something better".  Sometimes, being employed is the best it could get.  

On this particular day, I had a reality check, myself.

Since last summer, I have been unemployed twice and took temp jobs when they came along.   My first one was as a contract recruiter for three months after being unemployed for almost 3 months- i.e. Temporary staffer recruiting at a temporary agency for temporary assignments.  After recruiting temp workers and being laid off because our main client wasn't hiring anymore (you can't hire for a company that doesn't have any jobs), I then found myself on the other side of the fence- the one looking for employment. 
Office Cubicles

More recently after a 10 week unemployment stint, I took a 3-4 week job on a project-based assignment stuffing envelopes with insurance policies and related documents.  Literally, it's all I do.  It’s better than sitting at home, and to my job-seeking advantage, it makes me definitely look employable.  

The coworker who trained me in came over to show me something and we quickly made some small talk.  She is such a kind woman and she really likes the general office setting.  She’s not seeking anything really stimulating and creative and as far as I can tell, besides biding time until she can collect Social Security, she doesn’t mind it.  She mentioned that if I wanted to, maybe I could get hired on at the same place as a Customer Service Agent.  She also mentioned that maybe I could do it until something better came along since she knows that, “A degree will get you places!”

Besides making me a deep thinker and a creative problem-solver, my degree hasn't done me much good yet except put me in debt and on the positive side, get me more interviews. 

And her most interesting comment yet was, “Well, a paycheck’s a paycheck." That got me to thinking, is a paycheck a paycheck?  Am I reduced to working a job with no future that doesn’t take into account my strengths at a company that specifically recruits people in “workhorse mentality” positions (task-complete, task-complete, task-complete, task- complete)?  Is this the new reality in corporate America?  As you can probably tell, I am very discouraged.  In my reality, this job market and even my first professional job has left me putting their dreams on hold for a better life, renting, paying off debt vs. saving for retirement, etc.

The only upside to this mind-numbing role is the fact that I can listen to headphones and doodle while I brainstorm children's book ideas and generate plot in my head until 5:00 for my other book.  It's definitely jump-starting my creative side!

So my question is, if you are offered a position that isn’t a good fit for you but it provides a paycheck, do you take it?  What about the possibility of it turning out as not a good fit down the road and then getting laid off or fired?  Or do you hold out for something better that is more fitting for your skill set and personality? 

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