Advice » Job Hunt Strategy» Getting Started » Landing a Survival Job
Landing a Survival Job

Landing a Survival Job

If you’re a highly qualified professional who has been unemployed for a while, you may eventually have to find a “Plan B” job to pay your bills until the job market improves and you can return to your preferred type of work.   

There’s no shame in that, but landing a temporary survival job can be harder than you think -- there may be dozens of applicants for a retail job at your local mall, for example.

Career experts offer these eight dos and don’ts for finding and getting hired for a survival job.

1. Do Choose Your Survival Job Wisely

“A survival job should be something you enjoy,” says Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert who is CEO of Santa Monica, California-based Lynn Taylor Consulting and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant. For example, if you’re a social animal with a passion for music, try getting a gig as a bartender in your favorite karaoke bar. “Your likelihood of landing even a survival job is greater if you demonstrate genuine enthusiasm, so don’t waste anyone’s time with a job you dislike from the start,” she says.

2. Don’t Give Up on Finding the Job You Really Want

Before turning to bartending, look for a survival job in your field -- even if it means taking a major step down. Doing so will provide consistency and focus in your career and put you in the right place should opportunities arise within that company, Taylor says. If you must take a survival job outside your field, aim for evening or weekend hours so you can use your days to search and interview for your desired professional position, she says.

3. Do Tone Down Your Resume

“Long, verbose resumes shout ‘overqualified,’” Taylor says. So tighten your resume and/or decrease your scribblings on application forms for survival jobs. While you shouldn’t lie outright about your work experience, “it’s OK to de-emphasize certain qualifications by taking high-level job titles, graduate degrees or other irrelevant work experience off your resume,” says Los Angeles-based career coach David Couper, author of Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career Even When You Don’t Fit In. Adds Garrett Miller, a New Jersey-based workplace productivity coach, trainer and author of Hire on a WHIM: The Four Qualities that Make for Great Employees: “Drop the corporate speak and power phrases, and instead highlight your strengths in relating to people and your work ethic.”

4. Do Stay Upbeat

A positive attitude is everything when searching for a survival job. Let’s say you were laid off from a high-level IT position and are interviewing for a job at a coffee shop. Your interviewers will sense your disdain if you can’t find any upside to making and serving fancy drinks to customers. “You have to look at it as an opportunity to grow and stretch,” Miller says. “It’s almost like a miniversion of ‘Undercover Boss.’ You’ll be gaining perspective, empathy and insight into experiences you had once not even considered.”

5. Don’t Come Across As a Know-It-All

Be confident during an interview, not cocky. You may be older and more educated than your interviewer, but that doesn’t mean you’d make a better cup of coffee. Bragging about your accomplishments won’t resonate with your interviewer, Miller notes, but what will impress are phrases such as: “I’m very teachable,” “I may not have chosen this career change, but I’m excited to learn new talents and skills from you” and “I will be here every day. You can depend on me”

6. Don’t Lie

It’s great to show commitment to your potential survival job, but don’t go overboard. “It will hurt you if you lie and say this is the job of your dreams,” Taylor says. “It’ll come back to haunt you if you’re just looking for a temporary survival job but you lead your potential employer to believe otherwise.”

7. Do Prepare for the Interview

When conducting your job interview preparation, keep in mind the employer’s perspective, Couper says. Your interviewer will be trying to ascertain three things: Can you do the job? Will you fit in with the team? Will you cause any problems? Answering common interview questions of this nature in a satisfactory manner is your “golden ticket,” Couper says. Taylor says you can show your maturity (without bragging) and counteract the notion you’re overqualified with winning scripts such as these: “I’ve always gotten kudos for my people skills” and “I’m good at keeping the peace.”

8. Don't Share Your Sob Story

Don't go on a tirade against your former employer, complain about your debt or reveal too much about your personal woes. "If the desperation shows in your face, you won't come across as genuine" in your desire for the job, Taylor says.

Latest Jobs

Accounting Principals
Posted: 05/29/2015
Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33309
Ajilon Professional Staffing
Posted: 05/29/2015
Edison, NJ, 08837
Accounting Principals
Posted: 05/29/2015
Parsippany, NJ, 07054
Accounting Principals
Posted: 05/29/2015
Santa Monica, CA, 90401
Posted: 05/29/2015
Temperance, MI, 48182

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-304