Can’t find work in your desired industry? Here’s why it might make sense to look beyond those boundaries.

When we graduate college, we hope that the job fairy will give us a high-paying job at a great company—the day after we get our loan-financed diplomas, no less.

Unfortunately, what usually happens is that we find ourselves sitting in our parents’ basements, lamenting the cruelty of fate and resigning ourselves to a part-time job as a barista while we hope for the economy to return to its fabled 1990s state. You know, that time when six-figure jobs fell into the laps of even the most liberal of liberal arts majors—right?

Actually, the world never worked that way, and the way to get ahead now, just like it’s always been, is to claw your way forward.

One of the most widely ignored methods of developing yourself professionally is pursuing work in fields that need labor, regardless of whether your qualifications match.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to get one of those jobs, and a few reasons why it will benefit you in the long run:

1. You’ll grow your confidence

You want your potential employer to think of you as a go-getter, meaning you should look like—and be!—that kind of person. An excellent way to project this kind of attitude is to bring your mismatched skills to your interview and to show how you would apply them to your target job.

Learning how to sell your skills not only allows you to get other jobs in the future; it will also help you actually feel confident about how marketable you are for an employer.

2. You’ll develop your general career skills

An important part of working at a “real job” is that you get tangible experience that’s important to potential future employers. An interviewer needs to believe that you weren’t stuck in life’s doldrums, hoping to get swept up by a lucky break. Any job will go a long way toward teaching you how to interact and deal with coworkers, bosses, meetings and bureaucratic power structures.

You’ll learn a lot of useful things about the working world and, more importantly, about yourself. What type of company do you not want to work for? What makes a good boss or a bad boss? How do you negotiate a pay raise or a promotion? These are skills that are transferable to a variety of careers.

3. You’ll gain unique qualifications

Consider this: receiving your degree and then getting experience in exactly that field doesn’t distinguish you from everyone else who took those same two steps. Higher-level job listings can come with random caveats like “Design Coordinator: Need graphic designer with project management experience” or “Engineering Manager: Masters in Physics with at least two years of management experience.”

Wherever you look, you’ll find that employers want more skills from you than you could have gathered at school. Broadening your skill set by taking an atypical job will give you qualifications that will allow you to stand out as a candidate for your next job.

Alan Brady is a passionate blogger who spends his time researching and writing about the economy, recent job market trends and business. He is currently writing for the employment lawyers,


  1. Spark Hire

    These are all great reasons why you should consider taking a job outside your career field. In an ideal world you’d immediately nab your dream job in your career field after sending along your video resume. But in today’s tough economy, having a job is better than looking endlessly in your field. Even if your job isn’t in your industry of choice, there’s still plenty you can learn in the workplace which will help you in your career. Then when you finally land an interview for your dream job, whether in person or through online video, you can explain the skills and experience you’ve gained in the job you took outside your field.

  2. Brian Hildman

    There’s nothing wrong with this advice at all, but make sure people understand sometimes jobs that have nothing to do with their intended career might cause confusion to hiring managers and take you out of the consideration set before they even talk to you, or jobs that seem similar to what they want, are not the same.

    Make sure you do plenty of Informational Interviews with people in your field, from Junior to Director level, to understand what it will take to make that shift. And while working, network your butt off in groups that match your desired career.

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