For some people, transition jobs are a gateway to new careers. Others use transition jobs to decompress from stressful jobs. And many take these jobs because they simply need the income badly.
Transition jobs are something people take until they land the job they want. Typically they pay less, are often not befitting of your experience and education and might not even be worth mentioning on your resume. Almost everyone has heard a story about professionals taking transition jobs pumping gas, cleaning offices, working retail or waiting tables rather than just staying home in this turbulent economy.
But can a transition job work for you?
“Work in another field – retail, hospitality, restaurants – is not a mark against you if the job market in your area of expertise is constricting,” says Mike Fitzgerald, a partner at the recruiting firm Winter, Wyman & Co. “I’d rather represent a candidate who takes a proactive approach to their situation while also aggressively exploring all possible career options in their field of expertise,” he tells eFinancialCareers.
Here are some strategies for making a transition job work for you:
Ensure it will help you in the long run
“In order to find the right transitional job, you first need to understand what’s desired in the job you eventually want,” says Dr. Kevin Burns, director of the undergraduate business career center at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
“When you understand clearly the gaps you have between your current skills and/or experience in a job or industry, then you can strategically look for jobs to give you those skills and/or pertinent industry experience. If you have to choose between a job that gives you the skills needed for your next desired job versus a job in the industry you want to work in, you should normally choose the job that gives you the skills.”
Find something you care about
“Frequently, the most important thing when considering a transition job is finding a position that you are passionate about and interested in,” says Lynda Zugec, managing director of the Workforce Consultants. “This step to self-discovery in the workplace is often overlooked, but can lead to true success and happiness. Once you have an understanding of what you would like to do, you can target organizations that offer what you are looking for and work with them in an innovative way. Putting yourself in the environment you want to be in and seeing what happens will most likely lead to a networking opportunity or a different and more welcome role.”
Make the job an investment in your career
“Sometimes you need to take a step (or a few steps) backwards in your career to make a significant change in careers,” says Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University. “While you have experience, it may not be relevant to the new field. You need to take a few steps back to gain the relevant experience to build a reputation and advance your career in the new field.”
Be sensitive to the prospective employer
“I would advise anyone who is planning on taking a transition job to let the company know of his or her short-term plan,” says Josh Gross, hiring manager of Coalition Technologies, a Los Angeles and Seattle-based web design, development and online marketing firm. “Otherwise, the business will end up losing money on the employee and might not have positive feedback for future, potential employers.”