Sometimes your career path points straight ahead, and sometimes you need to take a few detours. Even if others think it looks like a step back, a bridge job may be just what you need to prepare for the next stage in your professional life.
What is a bridge job? It's a transitional position that creates income or other conditions you need while you work on longer-term plans. Take a look at the advantages of bridge jobs and how to find one that suits your goals.
When to Consider a Bridge Job:
1. Prepare for retirement.
There are many reasons why you may want to cut back on your professional responsibilities gradually. You may find your line of work more satisfying than playing golf or traveling, and you can usually increase your retirement benefits by staying in the workforce longer.
2. Change careers.
A bridge job can also help if you want to venture into a new field. That's especially true when your dream job will require going back to school or earning new certifications.
3. Start a business.
Maybe you aspire to be your own boss, but you don’t want to risk falling behind on your mortgage or your children's tuition. Taking a temporary job will ensure that you still have some income coming in.
4. Sustain a long job search.
Even if you're staying in your chosen field, there may be times when your job search drags on. Doing some interim work helps you pay bills, fill in gaps in your resume, and keep your morale up until you receive a promising job offer.
5. Relieve stress.
Ideally, you probably want to stay in your old position until you find something new. On the other hand, if your job is draining you, you may be able to protect your health and function more effectively if you hand in your resignation now and take a bridge job.
How to Find a Bridge Job:
1. Reduce your hours.
Making your current job part-time could be an easy switch. Ask your boss about changing your schedule or sharing your position with another worker.
2. Start consulting.
You could also use your current skills to consult with your former employer and other clients. Check with the Small Business Administration and nonprofits like SCORE for free help developing a business plan.
3. Network vigorously.
Like any job search, networking is essential. Let others know what kind of opportunities you're looking for. Schedule information interviews and coffee dates with your contacts.
4. Search online.
Scan listings for part-time jobs and gigs. Research organizations where you would like to work and contact them with a proposal describing your services.
5. Be flexible.
Bridge jobs come in many forms. As long as you can pursue your goals, you may be happy babysitting or preparing tax returns.
What to Do While You Have a Bridge Job:
1. Stay focused. Remember your priorities.
Devote your time and energy to your transition plans rather than taking on too many commitments at your bridge job. Ask your family and friends for support.
2. Track your progress.
You may be the only one evaluating your performance. Create interim goals so you can tell how you're doing and make adjustments as needed.
3. Tighten your belt.
Your bridge job probably comes with a cut in salary and benefits. Trimming your expenses will help you give yourself the time you need to move ahead.
Whether you feel stuck or you're eager to explore your options, a bridge job is a practical way to give yourself some space while you strategize about your future. The time you spend consulting or waiting tables could help you build a secure retirement or a successful new career.