Is A “Survival Job” Right For You?

Firstly let’s define the term ‘survival job’. So, you’ve just graduated and are searching for that perfect grad scheme, you’re currently between jobs, or maybe you’re still trying to work out what to do with your career. This is all well and good, but unfortunately other priorities get in the way. Along comes a ‘survival job’ which could be anything from temping in an office, working in retail or getting a job at a call centre. While these are all potential careers in themselves, they might not be right for you in the long term. But for the short term, can they help you to survive? Lizzi Hart, a Marketing Assistant at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, helps you to decide.

How to begin:

If you find yourself in two minds, start by drawing up a list of priorities that need to be fulfilled (e.g. money for rent and bills, money for travelling, time to search for your prefect job, time to socialize, time to work on your portfolio etc.) Next, order them in terms of importance to you as quickly as you can. Finally begin by re-looking at number 1 and 2 and decide which is more of a priority, then do the same with 2 and 3, 3 and 4 and so on. You should now have a comprehensive list so you can begin to decide whether a ‘survival job’ is right for you. See the below subheadings to help you to decide what to do in terms of your high priorities.


So money makes the world go round, right? Well it really depends, but most of the time this is unfortunately true. If you find yourself in dire need of money, finding a survival job might be the right choice for you. Working a job in which you see no future, can in some ways be disheartening and your qualifications in other fields can feel like a waste. But when it’s only temporary, surely the money is a great perk? Not only this, but sitting at your computer and watching daytime TV will eventually become unbearable, so putting yourself out into the world can see you maintain your people skills, keep yourself active and you’ll become used to the working week. Your main disadvantage here is a lack of time to search for a different job, especially if ‘surviving’ requires a lot of work for not that much money.


This being the main disadvantage to working a full week at a job you don’t care about means that a lack of time is a huge concern for many job-seekers. A possible solution is getting a part-time job that has opportunities for overtime if and when you need it, or a flexible full-time job in say a call-centre that allows you to shift swap, or take unpaid days off. This is an especially handy option if you have a crucial interview you need to attend. As draining as working can be, you may want to decide when you can set aside time to trawl through job websites and fill out applications. You’ll want to be in a good frame of mind and have enough time to fill these out effectively. Perhaps one day at the weekend or only working a four-day week could work for you?


The main contrast between a career you are passionate about and one that you know is just temporary is that you shouldn’t have as much take-home work. So if wellbeing is a high priority for you, then try to find a job that isn’t high pressured or physically demanding as a possible solution. You’ll still be working, so surrounded by people, but with less stress you can come home and feel happy enough in yourself to do a spot of job-hunting.

And a final note:

Although you know this ‘survival job’ is just a means to an end, don’t reflect this in your work. Even if your employers know you are only there temporarily, do your best at the work you are given in order to get a good reference and prepare yourself for when you need to work hard in the future. There’s nothing more insulting to an employer when their employee (who they didn’t have to hire) acts like they are too good for a job.


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