The Day I Was a Mover (not a Shaker)

by Naomi House, MLIS

The Day I Was a Mover (not a Shaker)

NaomiHouse ALA 2014 VegasI have done many odd and not-so-odd jobs over the years. I sold vacuum cleaners by phone and door to door for all of 3 days in the mid-1990s. I worked food service twice and have no stomach for the smell of cafeteria breakfast foods cooking ever since. I have worked retail as a cashier, sales associate, returns desk staff and manager at general merchandise, book stores, media stores and an import store. I have been an assistant to departments at various colleges as well as library staff and a librarian at several different libraries and information centers. I have also been a temp for think tanks. But one of my fondest memories is a job I held for all of one day, mover also known as a moving laborer.

What is a moving laborer? They are the people who show up to your house and either pack it or physically move your stuff from one home to another. How did I end up doing this? In 2007 my husband and I founded Khan Moving, LLC. He had come to this country to work in the household of a senior member of the Pakistani consulate and part-time learned the ropes of how to be a mover from a friend. My husband has a sense of physical space the likes of which I have never seen. A quick walk through your house or apartment and he can tell you what size truck or storage unit you will need, and he is never wrong. The business is a great one for anyone with spatial relationship and elbow grease skills because there are few start up costs. Customers rented uHauls, Penske trucks or from Budget so we did not need a costly truck- labor only saves you cash was the motto I came up with.

But back to me. It is great that I set up the business and website but that was the entirety of my planned contribution. We started the company and jobs trickled in. He had local college students who worked with him and that was all set. Best laid plans still need a backup and sure enough the morning of job number three the student who agreed to help him called out sick. So that left us with two options at the last minute, cancel or I could be mover number two. Now I have experience in retail. I have hauled down couches off of top shelves and learned how to use leverage and balance to move heavy items without injuring myself. This still was not the level of work that a two-three hour move entails but I didn’t think twice. That day in 2008 I was going to be a Mover and help my husband and our customers out to the best of my ability. It went great and if you have the patience to scroll through over 700 reviews you can see one of the very first one gave us 5 starts and name checks me!

So what take-aways can I give you about this experience?

  • Resume building is not the only value a job can give: Very short term jobs like this one, or ones that have nothing to do with your career trajectory can still teach you valuable skills and show flexibility. I have used this example in cover letters to show that I am not scared of hard work
  • Walking the walk taught me more than any amount of research:  I could have read a ton of books and analysis on being a mover but until I did the work itself I did not and could not have truly understood what it takes and how problem solving on the job was different for this career. I try and remember this when helping people with research on careers. I have not done most of those jobs but I do have access to people who have and have learned more from people than literature on these topics.
  • You never know your true skillset until you try:  I knew I could leverage and lift a certain amount of weight based on my work at an import store. What I did not know was that I knew how to dismantle a puzzle (a packed truck is truly a puzzle) that I did not put together (the loaders on the other end packed it, I just unloaded) safely. I gained confidence by trying out and assessing my new skills based on the needs of this job.

I am grateful for the opportunity to help out my business in a new way. Although I was very sore the next day I knew that I had contributed to making my customer’s day easier and to the potential success of our business. Cancelling would have hurt our ratings and chances for future income. I think this attitude can be applied in the job hunt as well. Sometimes trying out something new and outside your comfort zone can lead to a career you never expected. What that one day made me was more flexible, more open to different options and gave me respect for a career field I knew little about. Sure, it didn’t turn me into a mover as a career but having done one job successfully I knew that I could be a backup anytime I was needed and that gave me pride and gave our business the support it needed. I was never called on again. Once the college students I knew found out how well my husband paid we had people waiting to work with him. I am grateful for that chance and that day and for the opportunity. I made it happen #mih and gained confidence!


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.