The article doing the rounds at the moment about the lifeguard at the Rio Olympics and people saying it’s a “pointless” job got me scratching my head. While there is no question that the swimmers this lifeguard is overseeing can swim, they could still need a lifeguard – one of them could hit their head diving in, someone could get cramp or experience a medical incident. Who else is going to help them except for the lifeguard? The other swimmers will be too busy trying to win a gold medal. So, his job isn’t pointless, far from it.

I remember a temporary job where I had to greet people getting off a flight and direct them to the buses. I wasn’t the first greeter, I was the second. One might argue (and my friends did) that my job was pointless because there was already a greeter available. But what happens if the greeter misses someone? or a person they greeted completely forgets where they are going? These things did happen so my job did actually have a point.

It’s got me thinking about whether there are any ‘true’ pointless jobs? If readers can think of any do let me know in the comments but I can’t think of any. I think it’s because I believe that there is always something to be taken from each job that we do, we just have to know how to present it.

This has an impact when we are applying for jobs. I see many people who discount work experiences they think are pointless, simply because the duties or the work environment don’t directly relate to the job they are applying for. People forget that there are skills, attributes and knowledge they have gained that are very transferrable. Take working in a cafe, for example, you are developing communication skills, planning/organising skills, flexibility, team work and responsibility, among others. If someone simply writes: customer service, cash and eftpos payments and cleaning up as their duties, I don’t get to see any of those great skills and attributes they developed.

It does take practice to do this well so to start you off I am borrowing some good advice from my colleague Millie:

A good framework for analysing and writing about work experience is to write down for each role (paid or unpaid) that you’ve had:

  • What are the everyday, typical tasks?
  • What is it that I need to know to do these?
  • Who am I working with (internal and external colleagues), and any other external relationships?
  • Who are my customers/clients – demographics/numbers?
  • How is my performance measured and the team’s? E.g. targets
  • How have I grown in this role and what have I discovered about myself?
  • What are my key achievements in this role?

Victoria students and graduates, don’t forget to come to a drop-in to get your CV checked.

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