One wouldn’t think that working a basic, entry-level job could bring perks, but it really can! There are ways to make the most out of a dead-end job and to gather valuable points for your resume, but it takes some effort on your part. When you’re sitting behind your cubicle and answering phone calls and preparing papers to file, it might seem like you can’t gather anything valuable from the mindless work. Or when you’re standing behind a cash register and scanning coupons, it might seem like you’re wasting valuable time that could be used on working towards your dream job. But if you stop and consider what those tasks can offer your resume, you’ll notice that you are learning important skill sets that you’ll need further on to succeed.
It’s all about adjusting your attitude and squeezing those opportunities out of the daily grind. Maybe your office job offers training or free courses that you can take advantage of between watering plants, or you can learn how to speak professionally and learn how to problem solve when handling complaints from customers over a register counter. There’s value in every job you work. Below are seven ways you can make the most out of a dead end job — even if you’re not loving it, you can use your time wisely.s
1. Take Advantage Of The On-The-Job Training It Offers
Just because your job isn't going to catapult you right to CEO doesn't mean it doesn't offer you valuable skill sets you can take advantage of learning. If you're a entry level employee, you can learn how to interact in a professional environment and pick up administration skills. If you're a sales clerk at a store, you can learn valuable customer service skills and how to defuse tense interactions (here's looking at you, disgruntled return). Every mediocre job has something to teach you, you just have to be willing to pick up on it.
According to, Stephen Bienko entrepreneur and writer for career-development site Levo, "In today’s job market, skills are everything. A position that provides on-the-job training to help develop your skill set is incredibly valuable. The opportunity to hone and craft a skill set can help launch your career." There actually might be more opportunities in your job than you expected — maybe your office offers training courses or can send you to seminars. See what's available and take advantage!
2. Negotiate Changes In Your Job Description
If you feel like your job isn't offering you anything worthwhile, try and see if you can tweak your job description to become something more meaningful. Nisa Chitakasem, co-author of the book, How to Get the Job You Want, and finance writer for Forbes suggested, "Talk to your boss about altering your workload or the kind of work you currently do...Your boss will understand that you will never be as productive as you could be unless something gives. Just being able to have this conversation can be a great start to shaping something new."
For example, in my first job out of college I was a receptionist at a firm, watering plants and filing away papers. Over the months I started chiming in during office meetings with ideas when they brought up marketing, and slowly but surely my job description evolved to include handling the practice's marketing. With a little bit of effort, you have the power to grow your position into something a little more useful for your resume.
3. Use It As An Opportunity To Interact With Customers
Say you've tried to take advantage of the resources your job offers or tried to work with your boss to expand your role into something more challenging, but no dice. Sometimes situations just aren't flexible. In moments like those, focus on one great skill set you'll learn no matter what your job: Customer service. Learning how to interact with customers and how to develop a professional, tactful way of speaking is super valuable. You can't climb a career ladder without knowing how to communicate.
Bienko points out, "Take a retail job, for example. These positions are sometimes referenced as dead-end jobs for the unmotivated. In reality, there are only dead-end attitudes. As the direct point of contact, you’re the first to see the development and transition of consumer trends. This interaction can provide you with customer insight the CEO might not even know." Not only can you see first-hand what customers like and don't like (and then make impressive suggestions on how to tweak the business accordingly) you're also learning how to speak with them in a way that will be valuable all through your different careers and positions.
4. Use It As A Time To Develop A Game Plan
See your dead-end job as the perfect moment to start drafting a game plan — it's not too busy or time consuming, so you can use it as the time you think of what your next steps should be.
Sarah Archer, career coach and contributor to The Guardian offered, "This is the time to step back and take a look at where you are, what you have achieved, and check to make sure you are heading in the direction you want to travel. If you are climbing a hill it's really nice to be able to stop for a while and enjoy the view rather than rushing to the top. Similarly, in our careers taking time for reflection is really important for our self development." Think about what you want your career to be, and how to get there. Research what skills you need or how you should beef up your resume, and then during your down time, work on getting them. Let this plateau be your down-time to get all the pieces for the next steps aligned and ready to go.
5. Reframe What Success Is
Every job offers something to put on a resume, and in order to see what your shining moments are, reframe what success is. It doesn't necessarily have to be a promotion or a fancy title — instead, it can be introducing a new system, heading a project you pitched yourself, solving a problem, etc.
Archer said, "Reframe success for this period of your life. Challenge yourself to find success from sources other than pay rises or new job titles – whether it's taking on a new project, learning a new skill or becoming more expert in your field, celebrate in the same way you would a promotion." All these situations help you grow professionally, and they can be easily overlooked if you're in the "I hate my job, this is crap" mindset.
6. Open Up Your Circle
I'm sure you have a work bestie or a crew you have lunch with, but in order to make your dead end job work harder for you, open up that circle. Become friends (or at least friendly) with people higher up in your office or work area that would be great references or would keep you in mind if a new opportunity came up. Be strategic.
According to recruiting company Uniting Ambition, "Talking to the same group of people every day might be comforting, but it’s not conducive to career growth. The more you engage with different people, show curiosity in their jobs and talk about your own job, the more you raise your profile internally." The more people that know about you — and know about your ambition — the better.
7. Start Gathering The Building Blocks For Your Career Change
If your dead-end job offers a lot of down time, use that time wisely and start researching your next moves. Archer points out, "Alternatively, if you dream of starting your own business then while you are stalling in your current career, and have the mental space, you can start planning and researching what you would need to do to begin an entrepreneurial journey.'
When you come home, start drafting goals and making moves. Begin building towards what you want, while putting in the hours at your current job to keep you afloat. You need money, after all. As long as you're using your time wisely, it'll all be worth it.