It happens to most of us on our career path from college to successful career: you take a job that you come to regret. Maybe you knew from day one that your job has nothing to do with your ultimate goals or you were promised in the interview that your job would have more opportunities for advancement than it really does. Either way, your job is not as fulfilling as you had hoped and you’re looking for a new gig. Here are some things you should be doing at your dead-end job that will help in your next one.
Network, network, network
It doesn’t matter where you’re working: you can still meet people who will benefit your career down the road. If you’re a barista, for example, striking up conversations with customers can both build their loyalty to your store as well as help you make valuable contacts. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated and be sure to connect with influential people in your industry. Make sure you’re the first person who comes to mind when someone is looking to hire a friendly, talented new employee.
Learn valuable skills from your current job
You may think there’s nothing you can learn from your current job that could be useful in your future plans. However, the more dead-end the job, the more broad-based the required skills generally are. Customer service skills are a big component of many entry-level jobs. These so-called “soft skills” will help you in almost every job role. Learning how to come to a consensus with others as well as knowing how and when to politely stand your ground are two very important skills you can build now. Maximize what you can learn from those seemingly boring training sessions—the skills may benefit your future jobs. Take advantage of any certification programs your employer offers, too.
Show that you’re a go-getter
Most dead-end jobs offer some downtime. The majority of your coworkers will use that time to play on their phones, chat about the weekend or play computer games. Buck the status quo and find more useful ways to spend your time. Ask your boss if he or she has any special projects you can do. Show that you deserve a better job than the one you have by being a motivated employee. If you have an entry-level job in a company that regularly offers opportunities to meet with higher-ups, take advantage of those occasions. Ask questions, show interest and be friendly. People will notice and remember you.
Keep working on your resume
In this competitive job market, it takes a lot to stand out. A lot of other people have college degrees and resumes filled with buzzwords, too. Keep revising your resume while you wait to land a better job with more potential for advancement. Read career-related blogs about how to write the best resume. Learn to make even your irrelevant experience seem valuable and useful. Your resume is your calling card that shows what you have to offer a potential employer, so make it count.
Put on your happiest face
Attitude is everything, in work and in life. Even if your current dead-end job is the most miserable place you’ve ever been and you can barely drag yourself in every morning, your job is to hide it. Even if your coworkers’ favorite conversation topic is about how much the job sucks, resist the urge to join in. Once again, your goal is to stand out from the crowd. Keep your complaints to yourself when you’re at work and put on a happy face. Even if you can’t be happy about being there, focus your thoughts on the day when you can have a better job. That’s sure to make you smile.