You are here: Home » Career and Education » Unemployed? Any Job is Better Than No Job

Unemployed? Any Job is Better Than No Job

by Kevin Mulligan

I’m not a full-time blogger. I’d love to be, but for now I write at night and on the weekends.

I currently work a day job as a recruiter for a national staffing company. Some might call it a career. I spend my days on the phone talking to prospective and past consultants, looking at resumes, and getting lots and lots of e-mail.

It is from this unique position that I get to see a small section of the economy – who is hiring and firing in our area. I speak to both employed and unemployed individuals every day. Some people are looking for career change. Others are looking for a paycheck.

Unemployed? Take Any Job!

I’ve been recruiting for three years now and it never ceases to amaze me to hear the responses we get from some unemployed individuals that we call regarding open positions. When you call these people you can hear the TV on in the background. I imagine them sitting in their underwear eating Cheetos. “Nah, that’s not for me”, they say. I sigh and hang up the phone.

There are a multitude of reasons to not turn down a potential job opportunity.

Unemployment Will Run Out. For starters, you are unemployed. You shouldn’t turning down anything. Those unemployment benefit checks will not last forever.

Taking a Job Avoids a Huge Gap on Your Resume. For those in the professional workforce having a big gap on your resume doesn’t look good to prospective employers. In the past, having a six month gap would be a very bad sign. Times were good. Why couldn’t you get a job?

Employers are a little more understanding these days with the recession we are all living through. Nonetheless, the smaller the gap on your resume the better. Get back into the workforce as soon as possible and avoid a huge gap on your resume.

A Potential Job Isn’t Guaranteed to Work Out. Just because a recruiter or human resource representative is calling you doesn’t mean you’ve got the job. You still have to interview and compete with other candidates. Holding out for the “right job” doesn’t guarantee you will be selected to interview for that job.

Your Emergency Fund Won’t Last Forever. If you’ve been reading Cash Money Life for some time you’ve picked up on the idea that you need an emergency fund. If you lose your job you can rely on unemployment and your emergency fund. But your emergency fund will run out eventually.

If I lost my job I would be willing to take just about anything to help pay my monthly expenses and stretch out my emergency fund. If this meant working at a home improvement store for $10 per hour I would do it (and work 80 hours per week!). If it meant joining a landscaping crew and working out in the heat I would do it. You should have the same mentality.

You Can’t Recover Lost Income. This is the biggest reason of all you should never turn down a potential job. The income you are missing out on today by being unemployed can never be recovered. Ever.

Intrigued? Stick around, subscribe, and come back next week. I’ll run through the math on lost income through unemployment.


Published or updated September 7, 2010.
Print or e-mail this article:
Print Friendly

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jill

I agree with this (almost) whole-heartedly! Plus, there is always the chance that whatever it is could turn out to be something you love, which a candidate would not know if they fail to give it the opportunity.

Stories like these always remind me of Christmas Vacation, and how “cousin Eddie” has been out of work for like 6 years and says he is “holding out for something in management” :)

Reply

2 Kristen

Oh how I wish some people would realize that a job is better than no job. A family member was in a situation where she had been a stay at home mom for several years. Out of nowhere her husband left her – then decided he wasn’t going to pay her alimony and then lost his job and quit paying her child support. She has been so picky job hunting (for over a year) that she has turned down some potentially good jobs. She basically had to hit rock bottom and have her car repossessed before she was recently willing to take an admin. level job while she waits for something better to come along. Some money coming in every month is better than nothing!

Reply

3 J. Money

If you lost your job, you wouldn’t try to make it as a full time blogger first? ;) I totally would…and then two months later you’ll see me at the Home Depot with ya!

But I get what your saying – Any job is certainly better than no job

Reply

4 Ian

I appreciate the article as someone who is currently unemployed and not on unemployment. But one, what about people like me who already have those big gaps of unemployment, who haven’t worked since highschool because of college, then dropped out of college. I am signed up with 2 recruiters and a temp agency and haven’t had an interview in months. I applied for all of the retail, food service, and labor jobs, but if you don’t have a car your options are seriously limited.

Also no home improvement store that I know of pays $10 dollars an hour, think more 7.15 an hour before tax. That’s ~$1100 dollars a month assuming you get a full 40 hours a week (unlikely).

I guess all I’m trying to say is sometimes there is no job.

Reply

5 Kristen

Sorry, I’m jumping back in here in reply to Ian’s post. In the case of my relative, she’s making $8 an hour and bringing home roughly $1,000 a month. That’s $1,000 she didn’t have before. Isn’t that better than absolutely no money coming in, especially if you’re not getting unemployment? I appreciate that good paying jobs might not be possible, but there is a difference between not having ANY job available and not having a job that you want or pays well available.

Reply

6 Miranda

Watch out, @J. Money! That’s what I do…blog almost full time for a living ;)

Anyway, I agree. Making $7/hr is better than making $0/hr. I learned this the hard way when, with my shiny new college degree, I went and worked as a cashier. You’ve got to have money coming in. And you can keep looking even as you work a job you don’t necessarily like. Especially if you are working full-time.

Reply

7 Craig

Tough sell but it’s true. Having a job right now is better than no job, just tough to be at a job you hate, regardless of how the economy is doing.

Reply

8 Jeff

I was recently let go and I had a phone interview for a job that was over an hour away. The phone interview went well and they called me back. They told me that the position pays $14.00 an hour. I was making over $18.00 an hour and my wife and I were just able to make ends meet. She has now had to take on the insurance for our family and that is taking a bite out of her income. I cannot accept a position making over $4.00 an hour less. It would kill us. So I don’t think that any job is better than no job. Taking a job just to have one, even though it will eventually be disasterous to your finances isn’t the way to go.

Reply

9 Ryan Guina

I think there are a lot of factors to consider when taking a position that pays less. In your case, you also have to factor in the cost of commuting in both the money spent and the time away from family. It can’t hurt to be up front with the hiring company and tell them what you made at your last job and ask if they can increase their offer a couple dollars per hour. The increase would be helpful if they agreed to your counter-offer, even though it wouldn’t be what you were making before. Then find out if they offer insurance and what that would cost compared to getting insurance through your wife’s job. It may not be a perfect solution, but it may also be better than receiving unemployment benefits, which are lower than the $14 an hour job, and have a time limit. Finally, you can keep your skills up to date, which makes you attractive to other employers.

I don’t know your full situation, so I won’t presume to tell you what to do, but I would encourage you to at least give it another thought, and talk to the hiring company. If they increase their offer, this may be a good opportunity, at least for the present time.

Best of luck!

Reply

10 FFB

If your finances need it then yes, any job is better than no job. But if you have proper emergency savings then unemployment may be enough for you to hold out for a bit. Just as a gap may not look good it also may not look good to take a job that is below the skill level of the job you previously had.

I don’t think there is a black and white answer to this. It really depends on the job you had and your current situation.

Reply

11 Curious Cat Investing Blog

I agree most of the time being employed is the best choice. But I think you can go too far with that line of thought. When the economy is as bad as it is now I think it makes more sense to take a job. When the economy is better, if you have a reasonable financial position and good skills that are in demand you can look for a better job.

Also this is the kind of thing that is better to avoid. The time to think about employment is not just when you lose it. Choosing an employer that will provide a good long term job even in a recession can be very wise and help you avoid looking when the economy is bad.

Reply

12 Ashley

I feel like the bigger dilema people struggle with is long term career influence. I’d like to hear others thoughts on employment gaps vs job hopping and who is the more desirable employee? As an employer would you hire someone that had an 8 month employment gap, or someone that had 5 different jobs in 8 months?

I went through this conflict with myself after a layoff and went from being mid-level staff to contemplating accepting an internship in a matter of 3 months. To take a professional position in my industry that was of lesser status than my previous job would have been a serious set-back in my long term career plans. Perspective employers would likely see my decline in status as professional failure. I felt it was a lot easier to explain waiting tables to make ends meet in rough times than to explain going back to working an entry level position just to have job. So while it may have been vain, I passed on at least 4 offers that I knew wouldn’t make me happy and in the end it worked out great! I know that isn’t the case for everyone though.

I’ve watched so many friends, during the recession, get laid off and start hopping. They accept a position that’s at a requires a lower skill level than they posses. A few weeks later they get an offer for a similar job but more money, they hop. Another job offer for a few grand more, a hopping they go again. The cycle always repeats itself until they find a position that is on their level (skill-set, not income based).

Reply

13 No Debt Plan

Job hopping is bad and something I would never put on a resume. If I were an employer I wouldn’t hold it against someone if I saw them working various part-time jobs, but really that doesn’t even belong on a resume. When they ask what you did for 8 months you can go into details (or just put a section up that describes you were working out of the industry for several months).

Job hopping within your profession is a major, major no-no. Burns too many bridges and employers wonder if they are next to be hopped away from.

Reply

14 Sharon Jones

I would do any job even though I would prefer to get back into Office work. But I would like to go back into work where people treat you like a person instead of being bullied and made to work twice as hard as anybody else. Like you do work at Farnells, which his now Farnells in One

Reply

15 Amanda L Grossman

I recently wrote an article called “I Will No Longer Sell Myself for $4.86″, and it is about the amount of time it took me to earn $30 on sendearnings.com. It is still $30, but it took 11 months, and for someone who is unemployed, this would probably not be a great idea (especially if they need short-term cash).

Reply

16 frugalgrad

I tried Sendearning before, I got a whooping 6.00$ for 1 years clicking on emails. I have never tried the trial because I didn’t want to give out credit cards number. After a while, I decided this is not worth it at all. For example, Netflix give you 20$ if you sign up a new customers. Sendearnings, I think, give you 7 or 8$ for signing up while keeping 12-13$ to themselves. Then why don’t you start something of your own, refer the customers, and get 20$ for your effort. Those email clicking is not worth the effort at all. I tried Inbox Dollars too, they are just the same. I have to unclaw my hands from the mouse after all of that clicking.

Reply

17 frugalgrad

I’m going to college full time while holding down 2 part-time jobs. I would love to make it into 1 almost full time job but no one allows me so that’s that. These are jobs that I took to support myself in college and help my parents out a bit. I don’t particularly overjoyed in them but they are means for me to get to my end goals. I need the money to apply to med school and all of those expenses that come with it, so I will take any part-time jobs available if time permits. I’m working in the customer service sector so sometimes it’s a bit burned out when you heard complaints for 8 hours straight. Nevertheless, the paycheck is good enough for me to bear it while I’m working toward the things that I really want. So I agree that any job is better than no job at all. If not any benefit, than having a job keep your working momentum alive so you can be fully prepared for your real job. Money is always helpful even if it’s a little bit.

Reply

18 Moneymonk

One thing I can say about an emergency fund is that it makes you not as deperate. You have some cushion to hold out for a job you want. With an emergency fund, you can relax a little bit and not grab the first thing that comes along

Reply

19 Spiritwealth

Even if you do take a part-time job, continue to try to make your own sideline business. People wouldn’t be in this jam if they had more than one source of income, not just a job. When one goes down, the other can be used to help tide them over and buy them time to get a better job.

Reply

20 DDFD at Defensive-Entrepreneurship

Solid post– I know many people sitting on their butts right now because certain jobs are “beneath” them!

Reply

21 Brandy

This was a helpful article, but at the same time everyone’s situation still differs. If you have not been unemployed during this recent recession, it may be slightly impossible for some to understand. I do admit (from others I know that are unemployed) that some people unfortunately just sit around. I was in school full time even before I was laid off and will soon be finished. When I was first laid off, I didn’t really look for a job. I was taking a break, concentrating on school and taking care of my daughter alone. I had received a severance (which I am definitely appreciative of). After Spring semester, I started looking. I’ve had some interviews, but the job market is so saturated with all these people looking for jobs (with more experience than me) that I wasn’t getting any offers. Now…with several months of unemployment left…I’m still interviewing. After doing this day in and day out…it does get a little discouraging. I recently did receive a job offer and I know that some money is better than no money, but if there are other opportunities coming up it is okay. Right before I received the job offer, I received a call about a paid internship (actually in my field) and although I know that won’t last forever…it will get me training and actually challenge me. There is also a greater chance for me to get a more satisfying job. It’s about taking calculated risks based on your situation. One thing about the article that I don’t really think that I agree with…large gaps. It is not good to have a lot of them…but if you are a professional and your previous jobs have been professional positions…I really don’t think HR looks at working at McDonald’s as a great resume filler. If it’s what you have to do…that’s fine. I just know I wouldn’t even put it on my resume in finding the best job for me.

Reply

22 Tina

Just an unemployed FYI-
I just had to re-apply for my unemployment benefits because of the 1yr anniversary. I was in the middle of the second extension and getting $290/wk before taxes + the $25 Obama introduced. It was not enough to cover what working full time used to but making it at least. I always took any work that came my way. I worked p/t at a pet store for minimum wage (not pretty most of the time but still rewarding) and I also continued with weekend demo or event work thru a temp agency. Ironically the demo job was for my old employer who laid me off and sent my job to NE. But that doesn’t matter.

What matters is I refused to sit on my behind. I worked in jobs beneath me to supplement my unemployment benefits. When my claim ran out I almost did not qualify for the first extension because working extended out my benefits and had I worked maybe one more weekend I would have lost the chance to continue with the help of the extension.

Fast forward to yesterday (7-29-10) and I have to reapply yet again even though I was in the middle of an extension that still had funds remaining. Why is this an issue you might be asking? Well because I worked they now will use the past 18 quarters to determine my benefit amount. I have gone from $290/wk to only $130/wk and the additional $25 from Obama? Well I would have been able to continue that until I went through all of the 4 extensions. When the jerks voted in the extension just recently they dropped the additional $25. Oh and lets not forget that tax should be coming out of those weekly checks!

So because I worked and took ANY JOB, I am now penalized and punished and have no idea how I will make any of my bills on the $130/wk. My car insurance, cell, 1 of my 2 credit card bills (that have helped me make ends meet during these 2 years) will basically eat up most of the months benefits. I have a friend who is covering rent and the phone/web bill so very lucky to have that but still I don’t live any high life, shop at thrift stores (only because I have lost weight and all clothes are falling off would I even think to go shopping) and eat very much on the cheap. I cook at home and any fast food is a big expense to me and I count how much I could make if I just cooked and did not indulge in a milk shake or burger.

So to me working any job is a bit of controversial advice. At least my experience of trying to be a productive being in our society and not just sit home watching tv, playing computer or video games in my underwear.
Thanks for letting me post!
Tina

Reply

23 Capt D

I wonder how many posts are from those over 55. Or how many others out there in my situation. After being downsized out of a great IT career of more than 17 years, I can’t seem to get hired to save my soul. Lost count of the hundreds of resumes, follow-up efforts, cold calling. Even tailoring resumes to potential jobs. No problem getting interviews, my problem is in getting offers. I have been told by more than one trusted advisor that I “present” very well, yet I’m not getting results. One recent retail job interview I was actually told to my face that “they were looking for younger candidates”. And I too, am on the final extension of benefits. “Any” job to fill this gap. Emergency fund gone, unable to sell my house in current market. Never thought!

Reply

24 Alan

What if a company replies to your job inquiry a little over a month after you sent your resume? Received an e-mail today from a company asking if I could come in and meet some of the folks (yes, she used the word ‘folks’). Looked at the date I originally sent the e-mail and it was back in July. It was a job posting on Craigslist. Since the HR rep was using her work e-mail, decided to do some research on the company. Found some reviews on Glassdoor and Jobvent, and they were NOT positive. Most of the reviews are recent (2009-2010, latest being August 2010). They don’t sound like disgruntled employees starting a smear campaign; they sound like employees who know the real deal and were not happy with the company and management. I smell high turnover rate. Is this a red flag? Should I even bother replying to her e-mail? I’d like a job, but if there are signs that chaos is brewing, I don’t want to even to consider it. I was laid off from a job last December that I dreaded. Don’t want to go through the same thing again.

Reply

25 Kate

After working since I was 15 years old and working many many years for the same company I was unfortuante enough to get caught up in a 3rd round of lay offs at my job. After 16 months and endless resumes and interviews I finally found a job (yeah, I want to sit in my underwear and eat cheatos that exacly why I was out busting my azz looking for a job!!)

Would have been great but the place didn’t want to train and even went as far as after 1 month telling me to “stop asking questions” Gee did you ever? A concietious employee who WANTS to learn and do the best that they can do being told to STOP asking questions about the job that they wanted me to do! Needless to say that job didn’t work out, but thankfully I could see the writing on the wall and had still been sending out resumes so I accepted another position at another firm.

SAME BS happened there! They didn’t want to train. SOB I was working for even had the cajones to say to me on my first day “I’m gonna unload on you. I want to get through this process as soon as possible as there are others that were hired along with you”. In otherwords he wanted to try us all out and have his pick. After working 8 business day, working through lunch 6 out of those 8 days, staying late 6 out of those 8 days and even going in Thanksgiving weekend to get out from the avalance after being “unloaded” on I was let go…

Get this, the Firm Administrator just this morning sent me an email with a lead for another job with ANOTHER company…that’s how badly they screwed up and she knows it!

Anyways, I applied for unemployment and just got the determination today. I was DENIED for having a break in my claim!! So much for doing the right thing, and taking a job, any job instead of sitting at home in my pajamas, watching TV and eating cheetos! I just got a good taste of WHY people will not take any job. THEY CAN’T GET BACK ON UNEMPLOYMENT IF THEY DO!

Yanno, I really wish some people would not only stop and use their brains, but also walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before they go shooting off their mouths. They may find out much to their dismay they don’t know as much as they think they do.

Reply

26 Debbie

Similar thing happened to me. I took a job thru a temp agency with the promise of going permanent after 3 months near the salary I had at my previous long-term job. Well, after the 3 months were up, they only offered a fraction of the pay they promised. Not even enough to cover my financial obligations! Now I cannot get back on my unemployment benefits! I had only been on unemployment for 6 months and spent all my time looking for work, not eating cheetos! Learn from my mistake, if you take a temp-to-perm job, get the salary and benefits offered IN WRITING first.

Reply

27 Prudence

If people can make more on unemployment – and have 2 years to draw – what is the incentive of being gone 40 hours a week and making less money than on unemployment? You talk about huge gaps in resumes – well – that’s just reality. Call me with a job that pays a living wage and gives me some incentive to better myself and I’ll put down the cheetos and go to work. In the meantime – you better hope this doesn’t happen to you.

Reply

28 Prince jamal

Taking ANY works in the short term of having some kind of income, but at the same time that’s the attitude that gives employers the “go ahead” to offer menial, dead end jobs, or jobs with poor benefits and/or poor working conditions. Employers can easily take advantage of desperate employees. And that’s exactly what companies like McDonalds and others do with jobs that have low wages, little to no benefits, no room for growth, and no plans of changing.

Plus, if you’ve spent time (and money) developing a certain skill set, it doesn’t make sense to spend a whole lot of time not using them – it’ll end up being time and money wasted. Unless you find your calling elsewhere and find the work enjoyable.
Aside from that, do you know how tedious it is to fill out an application when you have 15 different jobs on your work history for the past 10 years? It’s not easy, unless you’re on the computer – which is still tedious.

But at the same time, you do have to find something to live off of.

I’m currently unemployed after moving to another state, but I’m not going to settle for a job that pays less or has working conditions worse than what I had at my last job just for the sake of getting out of the house every day. I’m wasting my time if I can’t make a decent living off of my next job, and use the skills that I’ve collected $30,000 worth of student loans to learn. And I still have a year left to go. But I may have to go somewhere in between my ideal job and a job with a fair pay rate. Unless I can make money on my own blog, and use my computer skills to create my own job.

Reply

29 josh

I have accepted a job in another town for only 13/hr because i have not been hired for almost a year. 13/hr is more than unemployment benefits but because its in another town the cost of living is higher and i will have to move. What should I tell my prospective employer if I can’t find a place and now can’t work for them?

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

.