The One Job That Will Predict Your Future Success

Employees join hands in celebration

Okay, so I’m not a fortune teller who can see your future success based on your past jobs. But I can tell you the one job my best coworkers have all had in common. And don’t worry, there’s research that backs up my opinion. (I’ll get to that) 

The sad thing is, the one job I see as a marker of future success may not even be on your resume. Someone has probably told you to remove it if you have it on yours. But to me, it’s the number one indicator that an employee will be successful. 

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The One Job That Will Predict Your Future Success

So what is it? A service job. I don’t care how many internships you had in college. If you never worked a service job, there are some serious red flags going off in my head. No, you don’t have to work a service job to be a good employee, but I have found that my hardest-working coworkers have that one thing in common. Let me explain.

Essential Workers

It’s a little funny to talk about this in 2020, when the media has spent so much time lauding “essential workers” like grocery store employees and restaurant servers. These service workers have had to work through the coronavirus pandemic while so many of us moved to remote work. For a few months, people thanked their cashiers for being heroes and put yard signs up applauding these (primarily low wage) employees.

Service workers learn the importance of hard work. They learn the importance of teamwork. They learn skills that are used every day in office jobs, like customer service, persuasion, and organization. And they develop traits that cannot be taught in a class, like patience and determination. Every service worker has had to deal with their fair share of difficult (sometimes EXTREMELY difficult) customers, and the lessons learned from those experiences will translate directly to dealing with clients and coworkers.

A cashier wearing a mask hands a customer their credit card

This year, people finally started to realize how essential these workers really are. They’re the backbone of our society, and it’s clear we couldn’t function without them. But this is something I’ve known all along.

Hard Work Leads to Success

When you spend years working on your feet for 8+ hours at a time, ringing up items and lifting cases of water as customers breathe down your neck, you can do anything. When you scrub bathrooms and mop floors every night, no work is beneath you. When you spend entire days listening with a smile on your face as customers scream at you for things completely out of your control, no email is too difficult to handle. 

Service workers learn the importance of hard work. They learn the importance of teamwork. They learn skills that are used every day in office jobs, like customer service, persuasion, and organization. And they develop traits that cannot be taught in a class, like patience and determination. Every service worker has had to deal with their fair share of difficult (sometimes EXTREMELY difficult) customers, and the lessons learned from those experiences will translate directly to dealing with clients and coworkers.

Cafe worker mops the floor at the end of the day

When I hear a coworker in my office setting say, “That’s her job!” or, “Don’t we have an admin for that?” I know right away they never worked a service job. Or they didn’t last in one for very long, at least. Getting sh*t done is an important skill in the workplace, and trust me, people will notice. If you’re giving a presentation and help set up the room, you can bet your coworkers will be appreciative. If you offer to clean up after a lunch meeting, you know your boss just ticked a checkmark in her mind. If you stay late to finish up a project for a sick coworker, they won’t forget.

Will these gestures get you a promotion? Not on their own. But you can be sure they will go a long way towards building goodwill. And refusing to do something you’re tasked with because it’s “below you” will hurt you. Even executives have to do some administrative work. 

Predictors of Future Job Success

Back to the research. Optimize Hire, a company that develops pre-employment tests, shared the top three best predictors of future job success based on decades of research. They found that one of the top predictors of job success was a person’s conscientiousness & emotional stability. According to Optimize Hire, “conscientiousness measures how hardworking, dutiful and organized someone is, while emotional stability indicates how well someone effectively deals with negative emotions and moves forward after failure.” 

A successful woman sits confidently with her coworkers

Sound familiar? Service workers develop these skills every day as they perform difficult tasks and handle challenging customer interactions. And trust me, if you can’t handle negative emotions and move forward after failure, you won’t make it one day in a service environment.

I have never met someone with a background in the service industry who didn’t go the extra mile at the office to help others out. On the other hand, I will never forget the coworker who told me they didn’t last a week working at a supermarket in high school. That same person was fired for lying to their boss about doing a task they felt was too menial for them. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

So the next time your work history comes up in an interview, don’t shy away from your service past. The skills you learn in the service industry are transferable to every job, and are invaluable in many. Your work ethic will be unmatched, and you should proudly let your future employer know that.

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Comments

5 Comments

  1. Interesting posts but I think you work in a grocery store or not if you have the determination to succeed you can last longer in any job you will be in. But those who work in the service and or hospitality industry knows how to separate their emotion to their personal and work life. It is hard sometimes though and yes handling irate customers is not fun at all.

    Reply
  2. I can’t stand it when people complain about the little things not getting done that they could easily do themselves! Like “it’s the custodian’s job to empty my trash”, ummmm….do it yourself if it needs to be done! Maybe the custodian isn’t good at their job or maybe they spent their day cleaning up other messes you don’t even know about. Sorry for the rant, but it hits home! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Right? I think it tells a lot about a person when they act like certain tasks are below them. That’s not the person I want to work on a project with!

      Reply
  3. I agree that working in the service industry, for often little pay, provides a different perspective. I just posted about this on instagram this week and spoke about my first job in retail. I did not like it, but I did learn some valuable skills.

    Nathalia | NathaliaFit – Fitness & Wellness Blog
    http://www.nathaliafit.com

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing! I definitely didn’t like my first job at a supermarket, but it taught me so much.

      Reply

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