Should You Accept a Job at Minimum Wage?

ID-100308362Currently in Ontario, minimum wage is $11.25/hour, but in October 2016, it will be going up to $11.40/hour.  Since it is difficult to make a living on minimum wage, some people wonder if it’s worth taking the job.  Here are three good reasons to accept a job at minimum wage:

You are earning an income.  Depending on your financial situation, you may require some kind of income, however small.  If that’s the case for you, a minimum wage position can allow you to take care of your basic necessities while you work on your career plan.

It is easier to get promoted from within.  You will find that managers are a lot more willing to give you a chance to try something new if they already know you.  For example, if you would LOVE to get into marketing, get a job answering phones and try to build relationships with the people in the marketing department.  When you are an internal applicant the managers will be more likely to consider you for an open position even if you don’t have a tonne of related experience.

You are gaining experience.  This may not be your dream job, but chances are you are gaining a lot of valuable experience.  You may be picking up more transferable skills than you realize.  Make a note of everything that you do and see if there is any way to relate it to your target job.

While there are certainly good reasons for accepting a job at minimum wage, there is still a risk of getting trapped in a dead end job.  Your need for a pay cheque should not be a life sentence of a job that you hate.  Here are some tips to help you stay on track in your career:

Have a plan.  What are your career goals?  If you don’t know where you want to go, it is going to be difficult for you to get there.  Do some research and try to identify your dream job.  Make a list of the requirements and make a plan for how you will gain all of the required skills.  It might take a few years, but if you are diligent with it you will achieve your goals.

Seek out opportunities.  Even within an entry level job, you can build an impressive skill set.  Pay special attention to volunteer committees or extra projects that take you out of your routine.  Many people build a career around doing the things that everyone else is too busy to do.

Make connections.  It is generally accepted that networking is the most effective job search strategy.  The easiest way to get a job is through somebody who you know.  While you are at work, you meet a lot of different people.  Make as many connections as you can; you never know who might introduce you to a potential job opportunity.

Employers know that employees who work hard are the ones who will perform well if they are promoted.  If you impress people where you are with what can do, other doors will open up for you.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Mister GC at