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I’ve only had minimum wage or food industry jobs. How do I get on a higher paying career path?


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If you’re making minimum wage or flipping burgers at Mickey D’s, there’s no shame in that. But at some point, you might want to move on and earn more money. Because let’s face it, adulting is wild-expensive. Minimum wage jobs and fast food are good for getting started but can leave you stuck without an exit plan.

The first thing you want to do is write down all your skills. You may think you haven’t learned much, but customer service, being organized, punctual, handling conflict, and managing money are all transferable skills.

Next, write down which jobs you’d enjoy and would likely be a good fit given your skillset. Also, don’t freak out if you feel your skills aren’t up to snuff. Many companies can train for ‘hard skills’ and need someone who already has ‘soft skills’ (learn more about hard/soft skills here) who is a good fit for the work culture. You may also have luck pitching yourself to a local small business owner who might take a chance on you.

Once you have an idea of what type of job or industry you’d like to work in, do research on Payscale about what those jobs pay.

When it comes to actually scoring that next-level job that will finally give you a decent salary and benefits, you want to think of it like an equation and work backward. What things do you need to actually get that job? For example [education] + [skillset] + [network] = your next level job.

If you know the gig you want requires additional education or certifications, see how you can do that on the cheap. You can learn many things online these days or with things like coding boot camps, etc. For example, you can also get a project management or HR certification or certification in digital marketing and so much more. Just Google “your dream field + certification” to see what’s out there.

If you need to go back to school and you’re going to get into debt for it, think long and hard if you’ll be able to make a good salary to pay back the loans and live your life as you please (because trust me, debt repayment sucks).

You also want to see if anyone in your network can hook you up. Do you know someone or a friend-of-a-friend who has your dream job or works in the industry you want to break into? Reach out and see if you can pick their brain and chat about career opportunities. Get a movin’ on LinkedIn and connect with others in the field you want to get into.

If you’ve graduated from college, see if your alma mater has a career center that can help too. You paid them enough so get what you can out of it!

To get started on the new job hunt, check out CareerOneStop, update your skills with Coursera, and be sure to read this before you quit.

Still have questions?


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