The Hunt for Red Jobtober 2: Turning Down Work While Desperate

Job hunting is an unfortunate business. Combine the awkwardness of junior high-school dances with the continual let-down of door-to-door sales, and you start to get the picture.

“Hello, do you want to dance/hire me? No? Thank you for your time.” (Yells) I would never dance with you ANYWAYS!!

The last time I posted about job hunting, I spoke about my wife’s adventure of finding a job right after moving to Rochester. That was pretty cool. Since then, we’ve afforded to pay rent, utilities; I bought some new boxers the other day.

But I need a job too. My full-time school schedule allows for more than enough time for a part-time job. I’m sure I’ll regret this decision once finals come around. That’s okay.

My school offered me a healthy portion of money for work-study, but I couldn’t land a position with which to earn it! So far, my luck has been less than stellar. I’ve applied to Halloween stores, cafes, co-op markets, grocery stores—most recently, a music store.

Officially, I’ve been offered one job, and no, it wasn’t the Halloween store. I guess I didn’t fit their qualifications this year.

It was the local music store. Weird though, because I turned it down.

Kevie Don’t Play That

There’s just something about minimum wage that says, “If I could pay you less, I would.”  And I’m not down with that. You’ve got to value me, Sir Employer, just a little more.

The music retail situation was also unique in that the business structure was strikingly similar to what I interned at in California this year: retail, lessons, get more students, get more students, get more students. In the interview, I spoke to the owner about what I accomplished in California, and how I could grow his business. I looked around and saw a sad state of affairs, a local business in need of help, and I knew how to help it. He was looking for someone with an entrepreneurial drive to take his business to the next level, someone with ideas, spirit, and experience.

Great!

I was a damn valuable candidate, damn it. And I was on board, too, up until the point where he offered to pay me $7.25/hour to turn his business around. I told him that wouldn’t work for me, and then he offered $8.00/hour. I said I’d think about it, shook his hand, and left.

It’s so strange to turn down a job, especially when you really need it. But there’s no way I could’ve worked there. You need to be careful when job hunting. There’s a difference between undervalue and robbery.

I can work undervalued, no problem, if I have to, especially in new industries with little moral compromise. I recently read a book by a guy named Mike Michalowicz. He talks about, in business, never compromising your immutable laws, whatever those are to you. My job-hunt laws include never getting taken advantage-of and always working for people I respect and who respect me.

I mean, the music store guy had a ponytail and a gold necklace. I couldn’t do it.

So I’m left with a few open applications, an interview today. My school schedule (thanks to the last dibs I received as a new transfer student) is not very kind to employers.

But I’ve started copywriting on the side which is excellent. It’s not regular, but it’s a start. Maybe some more of that will come my way. Until then, wish me luck as I step back on to the dance floor.

“Excuse me…”

What are your immutable job-hunt laws? Any good job-hunt stories?

7 comments

  1. I got thrown into an urgent job-hunting situation in 1997 that lasted until 2000. I worked two or three jobs at a time to make ends meet, and ended up in a good professional career position. I’m very grateful to God for not letting me be accepted for positions that might have blocked my future prospects; I might have settled into a rut with a job that pays half what I make now, or I might still be moving from job to job because I wouldn’t have been hunting at the moment this job was posted.

  2. Working at a place you like for less money is worth more than working at a place you hate for more money. However, having standards is even more important, and I agree, minimum wage is an insult (unless you’re a trainee). Have you considered negotiating? Having standards also requires bold confidence.
    My thought: Make an agreement with this vintage music store owner to work 8 weeks for $8 and hour. If he doesn’t think you’re worth at least (I’m thinking about) $12 an hour to start, then you both agree in advance that you ‘walk’ and he cuts off his ridicules pony tail. Be bold.

    1. You’re so right, great wisdom, Steve-O! I was actually thinking about contacting the store owner to see if he’d be interested in a temporary consulting service (at a fair price). He seemed mildly frustrated that I didn’t take the job; maybe I’ll let the smoke clear first. NOTE: The store wasn’t vintage (think, hack…).

  3. Combine the awkwardness of junior high-school dances with the continual let-down of door-to-door sales, and you start to get the picture.
    “Hello, do you want to dance/hire me? No? Thank you for your time.” (Yells) I would never dance with you ANYWAYS!!

    Okay, that might have been the funniest analogy I’ve ever read. I’ll probably re-tell the story to my students when we talk about career development and job interviewing, because how relatable is that junior high awkwardness?!

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