Sometimes the need for dependable income surpasses finding the ideal job fit. If you are in this position, perhaps an interim job could be your answer.
I’ll define the interim job as one that provides you with steady pay at a level that meets at least your minimal financial needs. You accept this job as a temporary solution without any intention of staying in this line of work on a permanent basis. The job may have no connection to your career goals; it’s employment that sustains you until you find a better fit. So, you continue to engage in an active job search while you are employed in the interim job.
The 4-point Interim Job Wish List
In a perfect world, every interim job will meet these four conditions:
- It guarantees enough income on a regular basis allowing you and your family to live without financial hardship.
- It’s available with relatively minimal preparation, and more readily obtainable than most types of work. This accelerates your entry and start.
- It’s moderate in its demands on your working time, so that you have enough time remaining during the week for continued exploration of career opportunities aligned to your goals.
- It enables recurrent interaction with a wide variety of folks, so you can make connections throughout your interim job that will aid your career exploration.
I reference “perfect world” because it may be hard to find an interim job meeting all four points on the wish list. That’s okay. It’s definitely possible to find an interim job that meets some of them.
Career-Unrelated Interim Job Possibilities
There are a number of positions (I’ve barely scratched the surface) that may fit the bill because they are reasonably fast to enter and could make minimum demands upon you other than devoting the required number of hours. In a nutshell, they provide the conditions where you can earn money and have energy/time to continue your job search. Additionally, many of these positions offer you relatively good access to large numbers of people in a variety of work scenarios.
- Temporary office support. Particularly in metropolitan areas and provided you have office skills, this is a great opportunity to sample a variety of work situations because you work for a few days or weeks for various employers in different settings. Of course, you are exposed to folks connected with these companies – internal staff to external customers and vendors. A receptionist is a particularly interesting interim role. You are the first point of contact with many visitors.
- Server, short-order cook or bartender. People are friendly when they are being fed, and you could work a schedule around yours. Feeding customers in the morning, at lunch or at supper. The networking factor is wonderful. I know of people who landed dream jobs through a server. Why not vice versa? Think family café to Starbucks! And I’ve heard bartenders referred to as underpaid psychologists! Seriously, this role provides one of the best opportunities to listen to people when they are comfortable and talking!
- Retail store clerk, customer service or greeter. There are many stores where people love being and have time to talk. If you have a specialty hobby or interest, you might be able to connect with folks who share that passion – and have other value to give in the form of information or contacts. Even a big box or general retail “gig” can be a great interim job.
- Comparison shopper. You gain exposure to many people by visiting several stores each day.
- Taxi driver. Business folks often chat with cab drivers. You gain repeated opportunities to glean valuable clues about various professions and happenings.
- Sales. Many companies outsource temporary sales positions to cover maternity leaves, a salesperson out due to health reasons or personal emergencies, etc. Your goal would be to move sales forward. You may have a territory or be inside sales. You’ll need to be able to step in with no or minimal training. You may be paid commission. But if you are able to bring in revenue and/or keep customers happy, you could do very nicely. And again, have potential to expand your network.
Taking an interim job not necessarily related to your ideal career can be a great solution. It can fill employment gaps, provide a steady paycheck, build skills, boost your network, and even serve as a window of opportunity for permanent placement.
I hardly made a dent. Make your own list. In my next post, I’ll explore interim jobs you might take when you don’t have the luxury of veering off course to the non-related roles. I’ll also share some clients’ stories where interim jobs opened doors to career dreams.