Published April 24, 2012
One of the most difficult transitions American workers are having to make right now is the prospect of taking a lower-paying job. At this point in the unemployment cycle, it is not uncommon for job seekers to have to take a job for which they are overqualified.
Case in point: the restaurant sector.
From March 2011 to March 2012, the National Restaurant Association reported that employment in the sector grew 3.2%. Many of the companies I have featured on Fox and Friends in that same time period are bakeries, restaurants, cafés and hotels -- Marriott (MAR), Chipotle (CMG), Panera Bread (PNRA) and Flying J, just to name a few.
You may think of working in the food industry as a job suited for college kids or high school graduates, but there is a good chance it is the job that is available to you right now, and that’s ok. Nothing is forever!
When you read books or look at career advice blogs, no one talks about the emotional component of having trained for a career, gone through college or graduate school, only to find there are no jobs when you complete your education. It is disappointing. It is heartbreaking. It can cause depression. I am not a psychologist, but I am human, and I too worked in the food industry during school, and after graduation. Hey, I was a flight attendant for five years! It is a respectable job, sometimes with benefits (not always) and it keeps you busy and productive.
So, some things to think about:
1) You Are Not A Failure: There are millions of Americans right now out of work, and that is the reason I began doing these segments at the beginning of 2011. In fact, the trend has shown that many of the jobs that are available are indeed lower-paying jobs. The fact of the matter is, you can stay home, wallow, cry temporarily, but at some point you are going to have get out there and do something.
One of my favorite interviews at the FOX Business Network was of a man who wrote the book “How Starbucks Saved My Life.” Michael Gates Gill was a successful advertising executive who lost his job, his marriage, and much of his fortune in the blink of an eye. He was also diagnosed with a brain tumor. A chance moment at a Starbucks changed his life, and he has been mixing machiattos ever since.
2) Live With Less: Taking a lower paying job at Starbucks (SBUX), TGI Friday’s, or Ruby Tuesdays means adjusting to a lower salary, and a different work schedule. You will be working early morning, nights, weekends. That is the harsh reality of what you need to do to get some financial support until the overall employment picture in the country improves. There is a flip-side, however, in that you can use your daytime hours to hunt for the job you really want. Phone calls, online searches, and networking are best done during business hours.
3) Use Food Service as Networking: I mentioned networking above, but just because you are serving fries doesn’t mean you are not out and about in society. It’s the opposite -- you are coming into contact with people every day, each table, each cup of coffee. Remember when you worked in an office and you had your favorite server at the café on the corner? Now is your chance to be that favorite person. Make friends, ask questions, and network.
4) Franchise Owners: One of the trends I’ve noticed is the abundance of franchise opportunities that are being offered right now. Companies that operate in the food industry are the cornerstone of the franchise movement. Dunkin' Brands (DNKN), for instance, offers assistance with financing, Panera is targeting military veterans, and companies like McDonald's (MCD) and Burger King are famous for their franchise-owned models. It works, you can make a lot of money, and even though you are serving fries, you are making money.
5) Get Dirty: Food preparation and service is a tough business, it is a messy business, and there are plenty of headaches that go along with the industry when you deal with the public. Crying babies, dirty napkins, and half eaten burritos. Why do I mention this? Because you need to emotionally prepare yourself for what this type of work can be like. It is not for everyone, but it is where the jobs are right now, and that’s what I’m here for.