As the job market has become saturated with qualified workers competing for fewer opportunities, most candidates eventually ask themselves the question “What ELSE can I do?”
Bridging the gap between your ultimate career goals and your last position with a short term or off-track job can be a valuable way to maintain an income, learn valuable new skills (that you may never have an opportunity to acquire in your chosen field), and discover new talents and interests. Identifying these opportunities can be challenging at first, but careful research – or a relationship with a flexible recruiter- can yield opportunities that you may never have considered.
Before you accept one, however, you should weigh your available options carefully. Why are you interested in the position? Beyond salary and benefits, it’s important to define exactly what you hope to accomplish, and what you are looking for in terms of personal and professional growth opportunities.
What skills will you have the opportunity to acquire, and how will they be relevant in your chosen field later? Can you use a bridge job to gain experience now that can make you more valuable down the road?
Are there talents that you don’t get to use in your usual career that you would enjoy the opportunity to utilize? Consider taking a short-term job that brings you personal satisfaction. It can help sharpen your focus as you continue to analyze your larger career goals.
Pursuing positions that you may never have considered before, making lateral moves, and branching out of your intended career path can also have unexpected benefits for your job search as a whole. Consider the example of William (Tommy) Rollins, Online Marketing Specialist. After Tommy lost his job at Circuit City (along with 34,000 other employees), he met one of our team members from Interview Angel at a local career fair in Feb.
She was immediately impressed with him, and said I had to meet him. I was told he specializes in online marketing and he wanted to volunteer his services to help get the word out about Interview Angel.
The next week we met one evening at Starbucks, and he reiterated his interest in helping out in any way he could. I too am a casuality of Circuit City (the first wave of mass layoffs) but I had gotten my foot in the door back in 2005 by volunteering to work for free for two weeks (80 hours). The trial period led to a full time contract. Seven months later, I was offered a full time salary plus benefits.
Tommy has since collaborated with me on the Extreme Interview Makeover Sweepstakes, gaining valuable experience and contacts, while continuing to add accomplishments to his resume. Tommy says, “There are many benefits of volunteering or in my case working for free in between jobs. The most important one being it’s a chance to create opportunities to keep yourself busy and your sanity in check. There is nothing worse than sitting around all day sending out resumes and waiting for the phone to ring. By seeking out these opportunities you’re keeping your skill set fresh and expanding your network in your job search.”
Our creative collaboration was also profiled in the Wall Street Journal in a column about unusual job search strategies. The article is titled “What Won’t You Do for a Job?”.
Tommy received much deserved national attention for his work with Interview Angel, and I am encouraging him to do freelance (not free) marketing work for other businesses in his spare time. So if you or anyone you know is looking for a sweepstakes expert to help an organization expands its brand, let me be the first to recommend Tommy, a true professional in every sense.
Tommy and I have now become good friends, and we will continue to work together in the future. Tommy has been highlighting his volunteer work with Interview Angel to prospective employers and has received a positive response for his commitment to help others and to keep his skills current. He called last night to let me know he is now evaluating multiple job opportunities! Some day, I would love to be in a financial position to hire him myself. We joked that he is now an official Interview Angel hair club member (he is not only an Interview Angel online marketing expert, he is a proud Interview Angel user :). I had given Tommy a complementary copy of Interview Angel when we first met so he used it in his other job interviews.
So as you can see, seeking and applying for bridge jobs requires creativity, and a commitment to broadening your network and expanding your knowledge of industries other than your own. Every interview is good practice, whether or not an opportunity is extended. Being prepared to demonstrate your value to an organization in broader terms is absolutely critical in these situations. Keeping an open mind about available opportunities may yield unexpected, and valuable, results for job seekers willing to remain flexible in their expectations.
Congratulations and thank you Tommy Rollins!
Brent Peterson is the founder of Interview Angel (www.interviewangel.com), the most comprehensive guide to executing near flawless job interviews. Brent’s goal is to bring out the very best in every job seeker.
Interview Angel is also sponsoring the Extreme Interview Makeover Sweepstakes, now through Tue 6/9.
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