Sunday, September 13, 2015

Don't Work for Minimum Wage

On my other blog, I recently wrote a piece about the importance of making sure that everyone is properly taken care of from a societal standpoint and why it is bad for all of us if some of us are left behind.

All this could be yours!
This blog is about one specific person. Last year, I wrote an article entitled Raising a Child in Declining America in which I discussed the fact that even with a shrinking pie, there is still the ability of an individual with proper preparation and motivation to secure a fair slice of that pie. In light of current discussions sparked by the Bernie Sanders campaign as well as some personal discussions I've had with people, I'd like to speak a bit about getting off the bottom rung of the ladder individually.

The system in America is fundamentally flawed. Tax, education, and health systems are all malformed to siphon wealth from the bottom to the top. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. But that is at the macro level. Indeed we cannot move everyone who is doing minimum wage jobs to better jobs. There are not enough of the better jobs, and the minimum wage jobs need to be done. However, there are enough of the better jobs for one person.

Did you know that there are jobs that pay $40,000 or more that require no education or special skills? Most people working minimum wage would answer "no" to that question. If you do not believe that there is anything better, how could you ever hope to find it. In fact, even if such a job were to find you, you would reject it as being too good to be true because you do not believe such a job can exist.

That's the first challenge that someone in a bad job situation usually has to overcome: belief. If you believe that you can never do better, you will never do better. The Koalid will never be stuck in the minimum wage trap because she will learn from a young age that there is always a way for an individual to get ahead, and that she can be that individual. 

Hopefully, reading this article will move you out of the group of people who do not believe they can do better and into the group of individuals who do try to pull ahead.

Let's talk about a few ways that anyone with gumption can find a better situation.

Sales is one of the most egalitarian industries because results are so immediately quantifiable. While some sales jobs require previous experience, other sales jobs are open to someone who comes in off the street. These openings exist because the work is not easy and the turnover rate is high. However, it is an excellent place to get good experience and make a decent income without background.

The woman depicted in this stock photo makes over $40,000
per year with only a high school diploma and a driver's license.
The car business is an excellent place to get started because the customers come to you rather than you having to find them. The average car salesman makes between $35,000 and $55,000 with (some) benefits.

There are also companies like American Income Life. It is straight commission and the hours are long, but leads and training is provided after you get your license. You can make $30,000 and up. If you have the right combination of motivation and talent, you can break six figures.

These are just a few examples. There are many other places to get started in sales. The challenge is that there are a lot of companies that I called "disposable salesman" companies. They will hire anyone and leave you to sink or swim, generally selling your friends and family before you go. These experiences sour many people on sales which is unfortunate.

If you are looking for a sales job, ask these questions:
Where will my leads/prospects come from?
What kind of training will I get?
How good is the product I'm selling? Can I stand behind it?

If the product is good and if they provide good training and a source of leads beyond your "natural market" then it's worth a shot. Most sales jobs for the inexperienced do not provide base pay. If the job provides a base pay, they can find someone with more experience than you to do it, but providing prospects and training is almost like base pay if you are willing to do the work.

Any skill could be a skill that could earn you a job.
Well, maybe not any skill.
Your Special Skills
Chances are that you are skilled at something, even if you don't think that is a marketable skill. I was talking to someone the other day who works at the Staples Copy Center for minimum wage and no benefits. She did not realize that the skills that she has learned in that job would qualify her for a better paying, full time job with a private print shop.

Chances are that you have some marketable skills that you do not realize are marketable. Do you know the difference between a Facebook group and a Facebook page? That makes you more knowledgeable about social media than 3/4 of the population, including business owners and political candidates. That's a skill that someone could pay for. Maybe not six figures, but a better job than flipping burgers.

The two keys to moving ahead in your career are experience and connections. Internships and other similar positions can get you both. If the position has anything to do with a field that interests you, or even if the position is drudgery but the organization is something that inspires you, take it. It is a first step towards getting what you want. The longest journey starts with a single step.

The most important think is realizing that you can do better. American does not have the opportunity for everyone that it once did. But it still has opportunity for individuals. I will make sure the Koalid finds the opportunities, and you should seek them as well.

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