Searching for a job when you don’t have one can be stressful. The longer the search goes on, the higher the stress can climb. For many, a bridge job can hold candidates over until they find the right positions – especially if they want to maintain an active clearance. And candidates entering the market post graduation or at the end of a contract may have needed to pivot a little this past year in order to stay active and out of financial trouble. You can use an interim job to your advantage, but in order to cross over to the next stage in your career, you need to know where the bridge leads .
5 Things to Keep in Mind When You Take a Bridge Job
When your resume begins to lack coherency and only includes random jobs for short periods of time, it will begin to cause concern for recruiters. Short term work and flight risk only become synonymous when it’s a pattern on your resume. So, use the bridge job strategically, and it can keep your career headed in the right direction.
1. Maintain Income.
For some, money isn’t a driver. But for most people who don’t have a trust fund to pay the bills, taking a bridge job can play a critical role in reducing stress and maintaining a positive balance in the bank account. When a job is lost – whether you quit or get fired, the problem with not having the next position in the works is that it can make some candidates desperate to take the very next role. But, getting a bridge job can be the difference between a short term income decrease and an overall trajectory of lower income for your career. So, take a job that is as close as possible to your current income – just to stop the bleeding, and then keep looking for your next move that best suits your skills and interests.
2. Keep Your Eye on Your Other Interests.
For candidates who are generalists in nature, a bridge job can be a great way to build out other capabilities or to see what is really interesting to you personally. If you’re in program management, taking a non leadership role can be a great way to build out an alternate skillset. The season can be a much-needed time for some self-discovery and learning – rather than just a means to keep the emergency savings from dipping too low.
3. Exceed Expectations.
Your new employer will call your old employer, and no one cares if you were just taking this job to hold you over until you got something better. Every job is an opportunity to leave a place better than you found it, and a bridge job is no different. Even if the job isn’t fulfilling, your coworkers and boss will share their feedback when they’re called for references. So, while the interim role is not where you ultimately want to be, you don’t want that to be communicated in how you approach your job.
4. Look for Opportunities at the Organization.
Sometimes, a bridge job can turn into THE JOB. So, don’t forget that opportunities can come up in your current position that you didn’t know about when you applied. Life is full of surprises that way. So, make sure you’re engaged in company communications, watching for contract wins and ways to support the growth of the organization. Your interim position might just translate to a new role if you don’t treat the job as a way to simply maintain income.
5. Find the Common Thread.
It’s your job to find the common threads in your work history – not a recruiter’s. Sometimes, if you have a clear picture in the onset of your career, you can take different bridge jobs that you know will build towards that end goal. However, for people like me who got an undergraduate and a graduate degree in business, the career beginning was somewhat fuzzy. As my resume built, different job choices supported each other in interesting ways. So, while it can be a little harder to weave a narrative at the beginning, some patterns should start to show over time. As themes begin to emerge, when you have to take a bridge job, look for ways to strengthen your key interests and capabilities.
Bridging the Gap When You’re Looking for a Job
While not every candidate feels the need to fill the employment gap when facing unemployment, the reality is that it’s a good option for many – especially when a period of performance is quickly coming to an end and you don’t have your next position on deck. You may have to accept a job is focused on building character and trust that will shine through in your next interview, but other positions can actually strengthen your resume. If you have the flexibility to volunteer, this type of work can also keep you active and add depth to your resume. The key to building a bridge is be purposeful – keep an eye on where you’re headed. You can always change course, but hasty and aimless bridge building can be the quickest path to an unfulfilling career.