Could Your Employment History Be Holding You Back?


This is a Tale of Two Employees; Jim and Bob both just graduated from high school and were looking for work. Both men needed a paycheck coming in as soon as possible.

Jim said that he would “take anything”, and was immediately hired to the night shift as a forklift operator/material handler making $10 per hour. He quickly found that having a night schedule caused problems with his family, and the daily heavy lifting negatively affected his health: he had been in a car accident as a teenager which injured his neck and upper back. He quit the job after 3 months, and immediately found a job as a farm hand. Once again, he discovered he had to do too much heavy lifting, and he left this job after 6 months.

After one month of being unemployed, he was desperate for money, so he went to work as a dishwasher for a local restaurant. He was frustrated at how little he made and wanted a better job, so he continued looking for work. This process continues repeating itself over the next three years, at the end of which, Jim made $9.75 per hour and continued to be unhappy and looking for work.

Bob knew he wanted to be a CNC Machinist eventually, but he didn’t have any experience. He researched local companies in the area to see which one seemed to be the best company to work for in terms of overall work environment, employee turnover/layoffs, benefits, and opportunity for advancement. He did this by looking up company websites, reading reviews, and asking friends and their relatives where they worked and how they liked it. He chose XYZ Manufacturing and applied for an entry level Shipping and Receiving position, even though it wasn’t the pay he was looking for or what he ultimately wanted to do. He made it clear to the manager during his interview that he was willing to learn anything he could to become more valuable to the company, and that eventually, he wanted to be a machinist. He was hired at $9.50 per hour, though he had been hoping to start out at $12 per hour.

In his spare time, he watched online videos and tutorials about machining, types of machinery, G-Code, and anything pertinent to his career he could find. He went to his local library and checked out instructional books. He found an affordable night class in machine operations that provided a completion certificate, and after he had been working at the company for 6 months, he approached his supervisor and indicated that he was finishing his work early and would be grateful to shadow a machinist in his spare time, as long as his shipments were in order each day. The supervisor agreed, and after one full year of working at XYZ, he was moved to his own manual machine and his pay was bumped to $12.50 per hour. He continued to learn in his spare time at home, as well as at work and earned a reputation for always going the extra mile, being willing to learn, and being cooperative. Two years later, he was promoted to CNC operator for his department because of the knowledge he had acquired, and his pay was moved up to $16.00 per hour.

Here is a real-world example about how skills training, and an attitude of continuous improvement, changes lives:

Greater Tulsa offers several skills training programs: a more complete list is on our Job Seeker Resources page, but this is a good place to start:

Why It’s Time to Get Serious About Your Employment History:

After three years, Jim had developed a reputation as a job-hopper, never satisfied with his current situation, and this made him look unreliable on his resume. That caused potential employers to continually pass his resume over, so his earning potential never improved.

After three years, Bob had developed a reputation as a hard worker, always looking to learn and improve, always willing to go the extra mile, and a leader among his peers and his earning potential continued to increase as he patiently worked his way toward his goal.

Jim did not have a plan or path laid out for his career: he wanted “anything he could get”, and that’s precisely what he got; not surprisingly, he was often unhappy with “anything he could get” because he was not realistic about the kind of jobs/situations where he could excel. Bob had a plan and worked toward that plan, and even though his pay was not where he wanted it in the beginning, after three years he had established himself as a valuable, dependable employee. Even though his resume only had one job on it, his job history showed his continuous record of advancement within that company, which made him appear to be a valuable addition to any company to which he chose to apply.

What Lessons did Jim and Bob Teach Us?

  • Having a plan or a goal in mind can mean the difference between developing a career and having a string of unpleasant jobs.
  • Understand your limitations, both physically and mentally. A challenge that will further your career is a worthwhile reason to push yourself, but a constant, unwelcome physical or mental challenge made only for money will only increase the likelihood that you will wind up leaving the position in the future, which ruins your job stability.
  • Employees who make the extra effort to learn and improve, especially on their own time, increase their earning potential over time.
  • Understand the difference between a dead-end job and a wise career move: if you find a company or industry about which you are passionate, then starting on the ground floor and initially doing something you don’t intend to do for the rest of your career can be a smart decision. If from there, you don’t apply yourself, learn, improve, and always look for extra ways to help, you may wind up in a dead-end job, but this is often a direct correlation between the amount of effort you put into the job.

Barracuda Staffing, Inc. cares about your success: check back next week for more tips on increasing your satisfaction in the workplace, and remember that one of the best things to have on your resume is job stability; however, if you are looking for a new place to spread your wings and grow into a leader in your department, we invite you to browse our current openings in Tulsa and surrounding areas, call to talk to a Recruiter, or simply submit your resume online today!