Whether you left or lost a job, unemployment can weaken your confidence and drive you into survival mode. In the beginning, taking a short-term job might seem like giving up on your dream career, but any prospects start looking attractive as the job search drags on. Short-term jobs can be a help instead of a hindrance, as long as you use them to further your goals, rather than acting out of desperation.
Why You Should Consider Temporary Work
When you're pursuing a professional career or skilled trade, accepting a job that doesn't make the most of your expertise may feel like lowering your standards. Many short-term jobs don't involve a skill set and compensation consistent with your education and experience, so it's natural to be concerned about them having a negative impact on your resume. You may also be reluctant to dive into a temporary situation if it distracts you from your primary goal.
However, financial pressures are bound to surface, especially if you didn't plan ahead for unemployment. Any unexpected expense can come along and wipe out your savings. Job hunting is time-consuming and unpredictable, and you lose competitiveness as a candidate the longer you stay unemployed. This period of uncertainty can be demoralizing and emotionally draining if no strong leads surface early on, and a persistent sense of doubt only makes it harder to stay driven. Not to mention, many employers are so slow to make hiring decisions that you may end up waiting weeks or months for interviews and job offers even with promising opportunities on the horizon.
In light of these factors, a short-term job can offer peace of mind and stability while you look for the right opportunity. Having regular income is a confidence booster, and being less stressed about financial strain allows you to think clearly about the pros and cons of a job offer. Moreover, every job exposes you to new equipment, software, people and problem-solving strategies, adding skills to your arsenal and expanding your network of contacts. Temporary work puts you in contact with diverse people who can provide referrals, leads or testimonials, and you may even discover interests that take your career in a new direction.
When to Say No to Short-Term Jobs
Although short-term jobs offer growth potential, not every position is worth taking. Working at a company with a terrible reputation and high turnover is usually a bad idea because the negative energy can easily leech into your job search. When you finally land an interview, you want to be in an upbeat mindset and be able to speak positively about your work.
Choosing a job that isn't mentally or physically taxing is also a good idea, as you need energy and enthusiasm to keep networking, hunting for leads and contacting hiring managers. However, don't allow others to define what is or isn't acceptable. If a lower-skilled job offers the balance you need to make a good career move, it's your best option in the long run.
If you're worried about having a short-term job on your resume, remember you can leave off a position you only held a few months. All jobs involve skills you can successfully market to an employer, so it's up to you to highlight the value you brought to the role.
Photo courtesy of GT AMSA at Flickr.com
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