In my last post I suggested ways that taking an unrelated interim job could move you closer to landing the job of choice.
If you feel you can’t go that far off track because you quite honestly want something more connected to your intended career, then consider pursuing such a job on an interim basis. Keep two factors in mind.
- It should give you exposure to potential contacts that can help you.
- It should not be so demanding that you find yourself stalling or stopping further exploration, i.e. job search.
- Sales, customer support or nearer ground level. Sales and customer service roles frequently have higher turnover and availability. If you add the factor that virtually any industry or market depends on building business and serving its customer, it can be a way to get your foot in the door. Of course, you will want to research the specifics. Some sales jobs have stringent quotas, only pay commission etc. It is still worth pursuing where sales or service might be a fit. Think of it in terms of what you can offer by way of industry knowledge. And think of how it benefits you in terms of getting in the door of the place you want to be, with an edge to work toward the role you want to have. My client Roy had a BA in Operations and an interest in iPhones. Struggling to get in at corporate level, he started with inside sales. It was fast track from there!
- Consultant. You may be able to market your knowledge of a given occupation, profession, industry etc. to people who pay for such service. For example, my client Joan provided expertise in organizational safety. My client Peter earned income as an expert on mold issues. Patsy, an educator earned engagements as both an instructor, mediator and compliance consultant. She did this between her exit from district-level administration and a new “gig” with the Federal government!
- Student. Sometimes a temporary return to formal education provides a healthy networking of professional contacts and opportunities – from research assistant to office support. This can be a goldmine in terms of windows of opportunity for career spots. Many folks these days are tapping the value of enrollment in higher learning to deepen or freshen skill sets, as well as find numerous contacts and sources of career information.
- Trainee. In days past, many fields required apprenticeships. One learned a craft under the tutelage of an expert, before being considered a professional in his/her own right. A trainee or apprentice role can still be a smart interim move. Think about what you want, where that is and how you might learn and earn at the same time – both income and credibility! In his quest to become a designer, my client Marty took a job at a national do-it-yourself store. He became very familiar with the products, the market and many of the players.
Think about what might work for you, but go in with eyes wide open. This is not about the job you want, but what you may need right now. The interim job gives you some breathing room until you’re ready to take the plunge. It’s a stop on the way. You give it your best, you earn some immediate money, and you stay busy with resume fodder. There are other benefits to the career-related interim job:
- More time to explore target jobs
- Opportunity to gain recent positive work experience and references should your last position have soured
- The chance to hone your skills, particularly those purple squirrel traits desired in your target job
- Time for what you have left on the back burner but would like to move to the front! Personal projects, family commitments, self-improvement etc.
Just last week I got a call from my client Ellen. She was ecstatic. Her dream job has been to be an on-staff athletic trainer for a large university in her city. She has the degrees and credentials. It’s just been slow-going for opportunities in her niche and geography. So, she took a job in the Women’s Athletic Department. A blended assistant/gofer role. She will be answering phones, writing press releases, welcoming visitors, attending official events, taking care of equipment, etc. She’s going to be talking and mingling with lots of the right folks. And guess who will be the first to hear about an opening for a trainer when it occurs?
An interim job can really be a great bridge to your target job. Being in the right place at the right time. Putting yourself out there in the right places. Allowing people to see the work you can do. Working for those who know people in your target organizations. Being planted to hear about emerging opportunities. It comes down to one of my favorite formulas: