Let’s face it, finding a job when you really need one isn’t easy. Among national crises, layoffs, skilled competition, or simply an unfriendly market, sometimes your dream job might seem far off. In these cases, it’s worth considering taking a bridge job.

If you need to pay the bills, get the right skills for a career change, or avoid having too large of a career gap on your resume, a bridge job might be the right option. We’ll explore the concept of a bridge job and when it might be time to find out in this breakdown.

What is a bridge job?

Forbes’ Jack Kelly defines bridge jobs as “a short-term transitional position between two stages of employment.” These jobs provide a paycheck and possibly medical benefits while you search for your next ideal long-term role. These jobs can fall into any industry or timeframe. Ideally, these roles won’t be so difficult as to cause burnout and derail your long-term search plans.

Finance Strategists lists part-time, temporary, consulting, freelance, self-employment, flexible, and volunteer work as different types of bridge jobs out there.

Why get a bridge job?

To cover expenses

The most logical reason to take a bridge job is to have some sort of steady income. Most of us don’t have the luxury of waiting for the right role. With bills and medical expenses to pay and the need to feed ourselves, sometimes any job willing to pay is a step up.

Rio Salado College points out that even if that amount seems less than you want to make, the stress relief of at least having some money coming in and not being in an overly stressful role can be a lifesaver. Having expenses covered should at least curb some stress and make your search for a long-term role easier.

To learn new skills

While you don’t need to meet every single qualification on a job post, if you’re fresh out of school, have been out of the workforce for a while, or you’re pivoting toward a new career path, you might not have the right skills for your desired role. In that case, taking a bridge job can offer something to work on those skills or apply your existing skills in new ways.

“These gigs help fill gaps in your employment history and show potential employers that you are proactive, enthusiastic to work and have continued to hone your soft skills.” -Jack Kelly, Forbes

While soft skills can be retooled, harder skills may be more difficult to pick up in your free time. LinkedIn says a bridge job can be a great place to get paid while learning tough skills like coding or new languages. Even internships sadly can’t even guarantee a paycheck on top of the learning experiences, so you can view this bridge role as a paid training opportunity.

To gain new experience

Skills aren’t the only thing one can gain by going outside of their norm and taking a bridge job. New experiences allow you to diversify your experience, meet new network connections, and find new inspirations.

Rio Salado College reminds us that a bridge job doesn’t have to be in your area of experience. If the skills you’re working on can be transferred and you can gain them in multiple industries, it may be worth doing so for a change of pace and to broaden your horizons. You’ll make valuable connections that could pay off down the road, perhaps even leading toward a great professional reference. You may even like the new career field and make a pivot.

“While caregiving may not seem like an ideal way for you to meet new connections, your new work hours may allow you to attend events and conferences you may not have had a chance to before. Likewise, taking a bridge job introduces you to people outside your usual networks, and you never know where a chance encounter will lead.” –Rachel Pelta, FlexJobs

To keep up a routine

No matter how stable your current or ideal field may seem, something unexpected can always happen. We saw the world change in the face of the pandemic recently, displacing many from their day-to-day lives, among other things. While career gaps aren’t a career death sentence anymore, a bridge job can be a good way to keep a routine and keep your resume fresh.

Aviation’s Jenny Showalter says that recruiters often want to know how you use your free time if unemployed. Working on some way to stay busy and prepare yourself for your next role makes you a more attractive candidate. That bridge job might not be your ideal role, but the fact you’re working on something can give you the edge in tough times. Furthermore, the routine involved in a bridge job can help with your mental health levels, as we previously mentioned.

Wrap up

There are plenty of good reasons to take a bridge job, even if it wouldn’t be your top choice. These jobs can keep the money rolling in and provide a sense of purpose while you search for your next long-term role. In these cases, they can even lead to new opportunities or connections you didn’t expect.

“One of the most important rules about a bridge job is that it’s still a position that’s expecting you to fulfill the requirements. If possible, you want to exceed those expectations in case it can be a larger stepping stone on your journey.” –Andrew Seaman, LinkedIn

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