Finding a workable entry level job ASAP, Seattle.
February 7, 2014 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I need to find an entry level job in the Seattle area. My resume looks like sludge and I need at least half my rent at the end of this month. I'm a smart friendly drug free person who's punctual and hates to leave work unfinished, but I'm also an incredibly inexperienced introvert who doesn't drive and is currently anxious. I need financial security. What do I do and where can I go to get a workable job ASAP?

I excelled as a liberal arts college student, but upon graduating: major recession, major depression, and dealing with the same and worse happening to family and closest friends for five+ years. The end result is I'm a man in my late twenties, have a decidedly translucent resume containing artsy stuff, have few close friends, and am technically in the red on credit. I've been thinking about a long term career in the abstract end of design, but what I need now is the security of a stable job that will keep me alive long enough to let me think about those longer plans.

I went to a nice temp agency last month and was immediately shoved into a receptionist/office gig where someone had unexpectedly quit. It was scary for an introvert but a learning experience. Now the temp agency says they're looking for something more suited to me, but it's been two weeks and I care less about a good fit and more about staying alive. Now it's the 7th and I have to find work. Addressing this head on makes me very anxious, and as a result I procrastinate when I should be trying to find work. That I've never really gone through a formal job hiring process before doesn't help. So I need some wise practical external help. What I want from you all is either miracle advice on place/s that I can go to right now for work, or general advice on the best ways to definitely find work within the next few days.

40/week 11$/hr and up would be best (can't currently afford to move to cheaper digs, and besides, it's Seattle. Minimum wage 9.19). Rent is due at the end of the month, but I can supplement for this month with some money borrowed from a friend. I don't drive (never learned) so I'd prefer no more than a dependable hour-per-direction bus/LINK commute from Downtown/Capitol Hill area. Besides inexperience, quietness/introversion and (currently) a bit of self doubt, I don't believe I have any relevant hangups: for example I'm punctual, friendly and kind, don't do drugs, and inherently like work getting done and want it to be done well. I have a taste for office work now, and I figure those skills are semi-relevant to my future. Low-interaction work like night-stocker or night security sounds relaxing and fine and would be a dream. Manufacturing sounds OK. Telephone sounds incredibly nerve wracking but may be doable. Cleaning/care sounds terrible but if they're hiring tomorrow... Ask or memail me for any more relevant details.
posted by a mous named nony to Work & Money (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Grocery store? I got a job in a deli at a grocery store in Chicago, worked for six weeks, then left when I found something better. It was my impression that turnover was high (i.e. the people working in the deli now are 75% different from when I worked there. Trader Joe's or Whole Foods are at the nicer end of this spectrum, and maybe more competitive.
posted by papayaninja at 9:21 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try Target. They have overnight and early-morning shifts that 1) require less interaction with customers and 2) pay a shift differential so you get paid more than people who work during the daytime and evening. Other big-box stores are probably similar, but I worked 5AM-1PM shifts at Target for a couple of months and it was not the worst (and it paid $10.50 an hour, more than 10 years ago, in a place where minimum wage was $7.50 or $8 an hour).

Also, the first step in the application process is all on a computer, you don't even really have to talk to anyone. You can start applying here.
posted by mskyle at 9:25 AM on February 7, 2014

Best answer: Are you on LinkedIn? I've been headhunted off there for low skill tech contracts and have found work with my resume and skills section. People still ping me about my profile, though I hear monster is kind of dead (not sure). Throw yourself at EVERY temp agency in town for now. Do not stop at one. Some agencies you need to call every day and let them know you're still looking. Good luck.

Safeway is union, might pay a little more than minimum.

You can be an at home "internet judge" if you don't mind porn. Last I heard it paid $10/hr, not terrible considering you can do it at odd hours.
posted by Lardmitten at 9:30 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about a telephone relay service for deaf/hard-of-hearing folks? The one in my area is ALWAYS looking for new employees, and it's a pretty relaxed environment. Your communication with people is basically limited to their conversation, not things you have to come up with to do customer service.

I can't find a place for employment, but it looks like the relay service provider in your area is Sprint.
posted by Madamina at 9:32 AM on February 7, 2014

The University of Washington has its own temp pool via their HR department, and that's a great way to get work fast and get a foot in the door at a fairly decent working environment. I'm not sure how bus/LINK accessible it is from Capitol Hill - I worked there while living in Shoreline and rode a bus straight in - but maybe it could work for you.

Detail on their temp pool.
posted by kythuen at 9:39 AM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can you push back on the temp agency and ask them to give you *anything* that would be enough of a fit?
posted by radioamy at 9:48 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: And temp agencies aren't exclusive deals. Find some others, and ask for work through them.
posted by hydra77 at 9:59 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One piece of good news for you: Washington state minimum wage was raised to $9.32 for 2014. Every little bit helps.

Also, if you are willing to take the bus to Mountlake Terrace, Premera/Blue Cross is always hiring. It is one of those telephone jobs that you are afraid of, and medical insurance isn't the most glamorous industry, but I think they start around $14-$15 an hour or more. And there is a lot of room to move up or to a different job. Memail me and I can put you in touch with my wife who works there.
posted by seasparrow at 10:16 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wait tables. The nicer the place, the better you'll do. Plus you'll get a meal per shift, and a flexible schedule. There is no quicker job in the world, in my experience.
posted by LonnieK at 10:42 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hesitate to say it, seems too obvious, but craigslist Seattle has lots of listings for retail/office/admin/general labor type jobs. When I've been looking for fast work in my field craigslist was the go to site for jobs with immediate openings.
posted by bepe at 10:52 AM on February 7, 2014

Best answer: Nthing signing up for as many temp agencies as you can find. Chances are you can get a long-term gig doing something not super social especially if you tell the agency what kind of work you'd most want to do.

I also found that it was good to go through my list of agencies every morning as soon as they opened in case there was any last minute work.
posted by forkisbetter at 11:07 AM on February 7, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you folks. Some great suggestions so far (and hopefully a few more to come). This is just the kind of external stimulus I need. It sounds like I should be communicating with several temp agencies at once, in addition to pursuing the other fine suggestions.

- radioamy, the temp agency I am registered at apparently has a reputation for providing stellar placement, which paradoxically means my crude needs are not respected there.

- seasparrow, thank you so much. The pay sounds great, and I may take you up on that offer sometime next week... But I'm going to see if I can avoid phones + really long commutes first.
posted by a mous named nony at 12:03 PM on February 7, 2014

the temp agency I am registered at apparently has a reputation for providing stellar placement, which paradoxically means my crude needs are not respected there.

My main temp agency has the same kind of reputation - but it's my backup agency that has been getting me the most work lately. Different temp agencies have different clients, and most likely the "stellar placement" one just has a couple of big kahuna clients that always need people because they have a lot of staff themselves. But that just means that the smaller agencies work with other clients who have different needs.

it's not like every temp agency in the city works with every busness in the city - it's more like "Supra Temps" has contracts with a couple of the big banks and a couple publishers, "Astro Temps" has a bank and a publisher and a bunch of universities, "Fox Force Five Temps" has a bunch of non-profits, etc. So it really does pay to sign up with all the agencies you can and play them off each other.

It's also a real boost of self esteem to get to a point when you have two temp agencies actually fighting over who's going to get you a gig.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:46 PM on February 7, 2014

I would just say two more things about waiting tables:
1. It's quick. Call 20 restaurants and ask if they need a waiter. You might be working (and eating) tonight.
2. It's cash.
posted by LonnieK at 4:28 PM on February 7, 2014

Apply here:

Associated Recreation Council of Seattle.

Many jobs require no particular degree. A lot of the "assistant" positions are basically just hanging out with kids making sure they don't kill themselves while playing.

Also, the minimum wage for the City of Seattle is expected to go up to $15 an hour soon. ARC is a non-profit partner and will be raising theirs too. SO GET IN WHILE YOU CAN! (this comes from an inside source)
posted by lattiboy at 4:51 PM on February 7, 2014

Getting PAID by the 1st of the month (21 days away) is going to be kind of difficult unless you're doing cash-on-the-barrel work. Many jobs won't pay for 2-3 weeks depending on when you start and when their pay period ends. Staffing agencies often pay weekly, but that is an exception, not a rule.

Not trying to freak you out, but you need narrow your job search down a bit. Cash is what you're looking for, and restaurants/bars, landscaping, and cleaning gigs will likely pay that way. Also, sometimes music venues and promoters will pay you to "paper" light poles with ads.
posted by lattiboy at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2014

Records clerk or file clerk in a law firm.

Here's a tip- most law firms utilize a numerical client/matter filing system, so what you need to do in your cover letter, interview, etc. is highlight your skills for attention to detail, and quick memorization. Think of examples (work-related is preferable of course, but real life is better than nothing) where you found a discrepancy in a list of numbers (i.e., grocery receipt), or where you were relied upon for having to quickly remember certain details (i.e., waiting tables, barista). Just keep talking about numbers and details, over and over again.

Pros- most law firms offer a reasonable entry-level salary, and a decent benefits package. The bigger ones may offer more flexible hours with an evening shift. At my previous firm, they had someone coming in on the weekend, just to scan the barcodes on all the files in the various cubicles and offices so that they could be kept track of.

Cons- this is a big no-no if you have any back-related issues.

Feel free to email me with any questions.
posted by invisible ink at 6:31 PM on February 7, 2014

You need a resume to get a restaurant job these days. Sorry your resume is messy now, but turn on the computer and tell yourself you need something done tonight. It can be bad, but it just needs to be done and have your correct phone number on it. You can make it better tomorrow night. Then tomorrow print out twenty copies and walk down the nearest restaurant / bar / retail street giving copies to basically every business. Yeah, fill out the boring applications while you're there too. Ask when is a good time to talk to the manager (e.g., Tuesday morning) and come back then.
posted by salvia at 8:09 PM on February 7, 2014

I am pretty certain I don't have any job leads for you, but I live in Seattle, I talk to a fair number of recent grads from my own small liberal arts college about searching for a job, and I'd be happy to buy you coffee and chat sometime. Memail me.
posted by Good Brain at 10:14 PM on February 7, 2014

If you can commute into Bellevue, then you could do testing for game companies. It's temp work, but I know a few people who bounce from Microsoft to Nintendo to wherever and make a career of it. I wouldn't recommend working for Nintendo as a tester unless you know a second language (if you don't, pay is $10hr, if you *do* pay is $17hr, because you'll do some localization stuff). Also wouldn't rec Nintendo because it's pretty shitty to it's QA folks, but there's better gigs out there.

I do know people, who know a lot of people. MeMail me if you'd like.
posted by hellojed at 11:23 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd also be up for meeting up for a hot beverage and talking about stuff -- I teach at the UW a couple times a year in the continuing education program, and part of my class was developing resumes, so I've become a de facto expert in them. I'd be happy to help you shape it up, or just chat about stuff. Memail me if you feel like it!
posted by emcat8 at 12:16 AM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Detailed followup/conclusion:

No local jobs called back (bars, restaurants), and Target didn't contact me after the quiz section. I applied to a few other temp agencies as well, but in the end the agency I started with had me go to a somewhat relaxed light industrial job for close to minimum wage, and my supervisor there liked me enough to effectively have me work there full time as a temp. In that time I was occasionally offered higher paying opportunities, but I chose not to piss off the devil I could count on.

I also passed the tests to be a Lionbridge rater (thanks for the suggestion, LardMitten), which pays a full 1/3rd higher per hour. Two things have prevented me from working there though. First, payment is a month after the work and I can't afford that gap. Second, hours are 20/week max and I haven't felt the job security to ask for time off from the plant.

I also have a third job that's hard to describe, which gives me small windfalls very occasionally.

The first two months since January were rough, the second two were spent stabilizing finances, the last two were spent mentally stabilizing and un-panicking myself. Using unexpected money from job #3 I just moved into a slightly cheaper apartment, and so feel like I can start using money saved money to start stage 2 of my reconstruction.

Stage 2 will consist of slowly asking to work less at the factory, and spending that time working more at Lionbridge. I will also be studying/using my brain for things other than survival such as reading books on the bus and going to the park occasionally. And I should be posting another question in AskMefi seeing if I can narrow down what an eventual career will look like.

Thank you all for the help.
posted by a mous named nony at 6:52 PM on July 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

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