Is any job better than no job at all?

When life takes a funny and unpredictable turn it can leave us feeling panicked and out of control. When this happens with our careers it can have extra repercussions of upset – financial ones. We rely on our jobs to pay the bills and keep a roof over our head. If our job suddenly gets torn away, it’s terrifying. It’s instinct to look for the first possible job you can that’s vaguely relevant to your industry and go for it. However, this is a typical pitfall of many job seekers; getting ‘any old job as long as it pays the bills’. Chances are, you’ll completely despise this new job because it’s not what you want to do and you’ve had to ‘settle’ for a job that’s a few steps back from your old one. This can actually solve your short term financial problems but give you a host of long term problems. For example, you’ll keep looking for something more suitable and when you get asked why you left you don’t want to respond with: ‘It was just a job that I needed to pay the bills. I had no passion for it and decided to leave’. This honest approach is a bit dangerous in interviews. It can give the employer a totally wrong impression and you’ll be showing bitterness left over from your old job being taken away from you.

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First things first, there’s nothing wrong with getting a job just to keep the finances coming in whilst you look for something better. However this job should be something that’s just that – a financial crutch. That way, you’ve got the money situation somewhat out of the way and you can focus on getting your career back on track without having to settle for a sub-par career where you’ll never get straight back into what you used to be doing. Try getting a job in a café or bar – something where you can interact with people is very good, because it can become extremely useful. After all, you never know who you may meet along the way. You could be working a night shift in a bar one evening, get talking to a CEO of an up and coming firm and before you know it you’re applying to be Vice President of the company! Get a job where you can network.

Another thing you need to do is to know how much you’re worth. And I don’t mean giving yourself an ego boost and realising how great you are. This is all good stuff, but what I mean is for you to be realistic about your career goals. If you worked your way up to the position in your last company, you may have to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to have to do that again. Were you fairly lucky in your previous role? Depending on your age, you may have to apply for a role that’s one or two steps down from what you were previously doing. Unfortunately, career changes can be like that more often than not. This is why it’s crucial to get employed by a good company who can offer you what you need.

Never let employers pick up on your desperation for new work. If you’re attempting to get a job similar to the one you had before, there may not be many of them like it out there and if you find one that you really like the sound of, you could come across as pretty desperate – especially if you don’t have a job on the side to keep the money rolling in. By all means come across as confident and eager, but never desperate. Desperate jobseekers are over-eager and will tell the employer anything they want to hear to get the job. You may find out in an interview that actually you don’t like the sound of the place and that’s fine – never, ever settle!

Whilst you’re at your side job, learn and do as much as you can. Make the most of it and gather as many contacts as possible. Like I said previously, you never know who you may meet and get talking to. It’s also always a good thing to learn new skills. Even if they don’t directly apply to the job you’re gunning for, they can prove invaluable in interviews where you may have to give examples of working under pressure or with demanding customers.

If your side job is part time, make sure you use any extra time to tend to your CV, update your social media profiles and work on your portfolio and interviewing skills. In fact, if you can afford it, a part time side job is a great way to go in between careers.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t settle for any job just so you don’t remain unemployed. You should get a somewhat decent and valuable job on the side that doesn’t take up all your time that you can learn from and still build yourself back up for your next career. It can be tough if you have a family to look after, but in the long run you’ll hate it if you settle for something that was sort of like your previous job but without the opportunities to progress. Good luck!

Have you been in this situation between careers? We want to hear about it! Email etj.editor@theiet.org

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