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Interesting Jobs: Before He Became President

There all kinds of different roads that led to the White House.

As President’s Day 2017 rolls around, it’s time to think about our Commander in Chief. If you think your job is difficult, it’s not - compared to what the President of the United States has to deal with on a daily basis. Combating terrorism, dealing with lobbyists, trying to maintain (or fix) the American economy and a plethora of public appearances make it arguably the most difficult job in the world.

At least the pay is amazing, right? The annual salary for our President is $400,000 dollars annually with another $169,000 in expense, travel, and leisure accounts. So, $569,000 each year for the most stressful job in the country. In comparison, the league minimum for the National Hockey League is $550,000. That means if you’re good enough to warm the bench in the NHL, you’d be making presidential money.

So what qualifies a person to take on this job? There are many paths to the White House and, in truth, our former presidents have come from varied backgrounds. Here’s a peek at some of the most interesting jobs that show up on former U.S. president’s resumes.

Abe Lincoln: Postmaster.

As a 24-year-old, Lincoln was appointed Postmaster of New Salem, Illinois. He’d sort the mail and even hand deliver letters that were not picked up at the post office. How did he carry them? In his hat. Seriously!

Presidential experience gained: Delivering bad news. A president, much like a postmaster, must deliver some not-so-pleasant information to the people he serves.

Teddy Roosevelt: Rancher.

Roosevelt fell in love with the western lifestyle of the late-1800’s and purchased a cattle ranch in the Badlands of South Dakota. Mother Nature, however, was not kind. In the winter of 1886-1887, nearly 80 percent of his cattle were wiped out by severe winter storms and cold. He decided to get out of the ranching business and focus on writing and politics.

Presidential experience gained: Cutting losses. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. It’s important to know when to get over your pride and get out while you can.

Harry S. Truman: Haberdasher.

No one on this list had a more fun title. Truman was a man of many interests and talents. He was an excellent piano player and considered pursuing a career as a concert pianist. He also was a military man. But once he was out of the military, he opened a haberdashery with his friend, Eddie Jacobson. The store sold men’s clothing and accessories and helped him stay in touch with old military buddies as well as establish himself as a person of influence in the local community.

Presidential experience gained: Schmoozing. The haberdashery was not a big success, but Truman used it as a platform to gain political influence in the town and connect with other important people. Everyone wears socks it seems.

John F. Kennedy: Journalist.

After his time in the Navy, J.F.K. worked as a special reporter for Hearst newspapers. His father landed him the gig to keep him in the public eye after his military heroics in the South Pacific, hoping it would lead to a political career. He didn’t have to wait long. J.F.K. only worked as a journalist for a few months before landing a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Presidential experience gained: World politics. During his short time as a journalist, he actually covered the Potsdam Conference where Stalin, Churchill and Truman negotiated the end of WWII.

Jimmy Carter: Peanut farmer.

Carter was the son of a peanut farmer, and when the family farm was struggling, he left the Navy to take over the farm. After some bad years, he brought the farm back from the brink of bankruptcy and made it successful again. Even after his presidency, Carter still claimed to grow peanuts on his farm.

Presidential experience gained: Getting his hands dirty. In politics, as in farming, sometimes you must jump in and get your hands dirty, not just sit back and wait.

Ronald Reagan: Actor.

Before he became America’s leading man in 1980, Ronald Reagan had carved out a long and successful career on the big screen. Playing in movies like Knute Rockne All American and King’s Row, he was a likeable actor best known for playing secondary roles.

Presidential experience gained: Speeches. An actor must memorize his lines and give a meaningful dialogue to the camera. The best presidents can do more than read off a speech, they  can deliver a heartfelt dialogue to the people. Reagan was a natural.

George W. Bush: Sports team owner.

George Bush is an avid baseball fan and jumped at the opportunity to head up an investment group to buy the Texas Rangers baseball team in 1989. He left the ownership group in 1994 for political reasons, but not before pushing through a new stadium bill that used eminent domain to claim 14 acres of land from local residents. Eventually the team had to pony up money to the rightful land owners, but they got their stadium and the space they needed for parking lots.

Presidential experience gained: Political maneuvering. Even though the Rangers didn’t make the playoffs during Bush’s stint as owner, he was able to push through the stadium bill and get the land he needed. It even included a tax increase.

So just because you work in human resources or even as a truck driver, it doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for that fancy chair in the oval office. Presidents are people too and many of them have held interesting jobs long before taking office (though none are quite as fun to say as “haberdasher”).

As you look at your own resume, pay attention to how you got to where you are in your career. Even that job as a grocery store cashier in high-school taught you certain things that helped you find your path. If you need a little help making that path stand out in your resume, getting help is easier than ever. If Jimmy Carter can go from peanut farmer to president of the United States, you can find your way to your dream job, too.

Ready to write the next chapter of your career? Hire a TopResume writer today!

Landing your dream job starts with the right plan.

Download your free action plan now to get the job you deserve.

Land your dream job.

Landing your dream job starts with the right plan. Download your free action plan now to get the job you deserve.