032: It May Not Be Your Dream Job, But...

It May Not Be Your Dream Job, But…

(Bridge strategies and getting your foot in the door)

I want to put into perspective your first job out of college. I also want to talk about getting your foot in the door.

Think of your career as a dart board: your goal in your first job out of college should be to get on the dart board.

There are two reasons you can’t land in the center of your dart board right out of college:

  1. You don’t know enough about yourself to know what the center of your dart board is yet;
  2. You don’t have the requisite experience, and additional education / credentials, you will need to get to the center of your dart board.

This should take a tremendous amount of pressure off you to “get it right” when you are 22 years old with a bachelor’s degree. How are you supposed to know, with any degree of certainty, what the center of your dart board is?

Your goal, then, is to get on the dart board with your first job, then after a few years, move into another job that’s a bit closer to the center of the dart board.

After all, you now have a couple years’ experience under your belt, and you know so much more about your professional preferences than you did two years ago.

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Now that I’ve set the stage with this dart board analogy, here are my top strategies for getting your foot in the door:

  1. Temporary agencies.
  2. Part-time / temporary assignments with an organization you really want to work for.
  3. Volunteer to work for free.
  4. Post-graduate internship.
  5. Contract work.
  6. Take a less-than-desirable position with a company you really want to work for.

I also want to talk about bridge strategies. A bridge job is one that pays the bills…it’s not intended to be your ideal job. I say that because, hopefully, it allows you to give yourself permission to do a bridge job AND you see it as a means to an end. No beating yourself up allowed.

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Here are a couple of examples from my clients:

  1. One of my 20-something clients who graduated from college about three years ago found herself out of work longer than she expected to be after a termination. She was able to work on a part-time, temporary basis for her previous boss, who had moved on to another company. This part-time work allowed her to pay her bills while still allowing for a bona fide job search during daytime hours.
  2. Another younger client of mine has been working with me to move from NYC to the Orlando area. This is taking much longer than he hoped because of his full-time job and three-hour daily commute, so he has given notice. He’s going to move down to Orlando, stay with relatives, and look for a bridge job. This will take the financial pressure off him, allow him to get the lay of Orlando, and begin networking for a career position.

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Here are the optimal criteria for a bridge job (they won’t all be present in any one position, but they do help you narrow in your focus):

  1. It pays relatively well, especially because you will (hopefully) be working less than 40 hours a week. Think waiting tables in an upscale restaurant during dinnertime.
  2. The hours allow you to conduct a bona fide job search, which means you have free daytime hours for networking (remember, you can execute an online job search any time). Again, waiting tables in the evening…or a job with primarily weekend hours.
  3. There is some career benefit to the bridge job. Will you strengthen your customer service skills, ability to work in a fast-paced environment, ability to handle money? Ideally, you don’t take a job just for the paycheck.
  4. It parlays some skills you have already developed in part-time work. Have you worked in retail, fast food, an office setting? How can you capitalize on the skills you gained previously to land a bridge job?
  5. The company has potential for future, full-time, career-related opportunities once you prove yourself in the bridge job. And, it may be okay to let them know upfront what you’re hoping for.

Want to speak with an expert about your career/job search goals? Need help figuring out what’s holding you back from achieving your dream career? Let’s talk. Here’s the link to schedule a 30-minute consult call with me: www.timetrade.com/book/D6KLN. Hope to see you soon!

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