One of the reasons Filipinos come to America, like most of other immigrants is to find work, a better livelihood or source of income, from which stems out dreams of a better life, earning enough to be able to send money and help out their families back home, buy a house, a car and save for retirement and for their children.
You would often hear people say that as long as you are not picky, work comes easy, accept whatever opportunity comes your way, even take up nursing or be a care giver and take care of the elderly, but just like everything else, there is no one size fits all solution to life’s challenges. To each his own as they say.
* Being a Care Giver
Taking care of the elderly or being a care giver may have been the solution for some Filipinos, because why wouldn’t it? It is still one of the most in demand services by far. It is usually a stay in or live in house type of deal, which means the care giver gets shelter and sometimes even food for free, so that cuts their living expenses by half and it is usually cash basis, so you get to actually keep what you earn!
Even so, taking care of the elderly isn’t what you can call easy money. You are lucky if the elderly you are to take care of has an able body and mentally functioning. An elder who just needs a constant companion, probably some supervision on taking their medication, preventing slips and falls and some light house chores. Sometimes the family of the elderly are so satisfied and greatful to their Filipino caregivers that they even provide them with Filipino channel for their down time. Some elderly are truly greatful to the extent that they add their care giver to their Will, leaving them with some inheritance. One guy we know started out as a personal assistant but was blessed by the elderly with an income property! Talk about blessed!
There are those on the other hand that really needs a care giver because the elderly is sick and needs private specialized care. They need help with feeding, bathing, washing their behind and lifting them on and off the bed and wheel chair. What if you are an elderly yourself, do you think you can still lift another person? What if you just can’t stomach bathing or sometimes even cleaning the wounds of another person?
Some would say “nah you’ll get used to it”
Taking care of an elderly isn’t a joke. We know of people who broke their backs trying to lift their client or trying to catch them when the elderly was about to fall. Ask yourself, how much dollar is your back worth to you?
* Employment Agencies
When looking for a job, it is a good idea to apply at employment agencies. This way you get to double your efforts, since the agencies have a network of employers who are looking for specific people with skills and could surely find you a number of job openings. Don’t mistake employment agencies for people who are legally authorized to work here and those agencies that cater specifically to Filipinos who are looking for companies that offers to petition for change of residency status in exchange for working for them for a certain number of years.
When it comes to employment agencies, all you have to do is apply. Usually they will test your skills in whatever type of field the agency serves. There are agencies for typical clerical work, there are those specifically for executive assistants, health care, technical, aeronautical, you name it. Just look for the field that applies to you.
After the application, interview and testing, then you technically become the agency’s employee. They would charge companies that acquire their services and they would in turn pay you after they take their cut.
Work from these agencies usually start off as temporary. Filling in for a regular employee or as another hand to finish a project. Companies prefer people from employment agencies because it is less paper work and they do not have to offer any benefits. If the they are not satisfied with whomever the agency sent, they can just fire that person and call the agency or another agency for that matter to send another one. It costs them less than to hire their own in both time and money.
Although most are temporary work, there are still those that are hired and given a permanent position. If they are satisfied with your work, they can simply buy you out. The company you worked for would have to buy you from the agency, because your are literally the agencies “human resource”, that is another way they make money.
Make sure to give your assigned agent a call every morning preferably right about the time they open for business. This is a good way to show you are serious and have initiative. It also lets the agent keep you in mind when something comes up. And when work do come up, they will let you know when, where and how much, it is up to you if you would accept it. Consider the distance if you can actually be at work on time and if the pay is worth your effort. Keep in mind that you can negotiate your pay. Since you only get about 3/4 of what the company actually pays, the agency can either ask for more from their client or lessen their cut to satisfy you, cause if you don’t work, they don’t get anything as well. That being said, don’t turn down every offer and expect the agent to continue to find you job offers, these are people too whose efforts needs to be appreciated.
One of the best gigs I had, was with Apple One. I was blessed to work with a group of engineers that did the layout of all the video and audio equipment of the media room of the San Diego Padres Stadium. I was hired as an ACAD operator, pay was good but when it was crunch time, it was overtime galore! We even did an all nighter which really boosted my months pay. It was a great experience for me!
* It is not what you know, it is Who you know
As long as we are dealing with people, politics can not be avoided. So make sure to mingle and attend as much gatherings as people would take you. Introduce yourself to everybody and let them know of what you can offer and that you are in the market for work. Express your situation without sounding desperate. This way you could build your network and perhaps one of whom would be looking to hire or has access to someone looking for people to hire.
Once you land a job through one of your connections, please don’t be a snub. Express your gratitude and keep the relationship and if at all possible, pay it forward, recommend someone that is also looking for work.
* Don’t be so picky
The benefits of not being so picky when it comes to work are plenty. You get to experience all kinds of jobs. You get to interact with all kinds of people, culture and ethnicity. You even get to practice your English. Even though we pride ourselves of having english as a second language in the Philippines, conversing in the language is another story.
Personally, the people I met from the the different jobs that I had are the same people that lent a hand to get me started in America.
Atty. Javier who was a customer at the convenient store I worked at, offered me our first apartment. Horace who was the manager at the store, gave us one of his fridge when he found out we had none. Tita Lolita who trusted me to work at her store and started me on the rat the race, because every time I applied for any other job, they always looked for my local experience. Anything else I put on my resume that are from the Philippines are considered crap, unless I had any local experience, which means to them that somebody trusted me enough to hire me and working the cash register didn’t hurt either because it reflected that I can be trusted with money.
* My special thanks to my dearest Uncle Oscar and Tita Lolita for giving me a leg up to get me started and to my Lola Pat for getting here and for my loving wife for making me stay. *
When it comes to resumes, it is not a pissing contest like in the Philippines. In fact, you might even have to tone it down a notch if the job calls for it. Since most Filipinos who get to come to America are either highly educated or skilled workers, most are over qualified for the jobs they are applying for. List only experiences and education that are related to the job. Companies find it a waste of time and effort to train and hire over qualified workers since they know that these workers easily takes off when they find a better offer for their skills.
* Health Benefits and other considerations
As a potential employee, many of us highly consider the benefit package of the company we are applying for. I know it is not the right mentality but it is the practicality of it all specially when you have a family to feed. Since the United States is slowly turning into a Socialist Republic or perhaps a Communist Regime, health care cost is anticipated to sky rocket to cover the health care cost of the those who are lazy, irresponsible and illegals that would not pay for their own.
Of course having your own source of income and not depend on an employer is still the best way to go. Catering service off of your own kitchen, hair styling out of your own home, offering a a full service manicure pedicure who does home visits, private airport and home pick up, construction, home additions are just a few of the self employed Filipinos do to make a living here in the U.S.
Consider also the distance that you have to travel to and from work, remember that driving also has its downside. There is the wear and tear of the car, ever rising gas prices and the draining traffic that every major city has. Is it still worth the pay even when you’re dead tired everyday?
Remeber that high paying jobs are usually highly stressful specially in the corporate environment, are you willing to age that fast?
* Pay the Price
Many are ready to come to America and work whatever job is available just to make earn a wage but some did come with high egos and would not compromise their careers, which is perfectly fine as long as you don’t pester the people around you because you couldn’t wait till you pay your dues!
Like the saying goes, “if there is a will, their is a way” and if your really want something bad, you have to be willing to pay the price.
There was this Filipina that I know of, you came to America around the same time as I did. I already accepted the work at the convenient store while she turned down every offer that she didn’t find helpful in starting off her career in IT. Sure enough after about a year or so, she landed a job that was in line with her degree and career of choice, although she did have to depend on the monetary support of her family for the time in between but now she is treading on.
We also have a family friend who truly loves being an industrial mechanic and is eager to get back to his career when he got here. He has achieved much in his field back in the Philippines so it was fair for him to expect that he could easily translate that here. He was offered a job right in the apartment complex where he, his wife and children lived, which meant that he didn’t have to travel. It was one less expense for his family and he would be able to be with his family right after shift. Yet he turned it down! In exchange for a job that was exactly what he was looking for but was five hours away! He was more than willing to be apart from his family, see them only a few days out of a month, pay for gas, his car’s wear and tear, and drive five hours just to see his wife and kids. True, he gets paid better, he is happy at what he does, and he thinks he has a future in that company, he just have to pay the price of being five hours away when his family needs him most.
We each have our own priorities and set of goals and level of contentment. The universe always conspire to give you what you desire, you just have to know what it is and be specific.
Work smart, not hard and always ask if it is all worth it. Does the work make you happy or at least help you accomplish a bigger goal?