Often the road to an entirely new career is not straightforward.
While we may dream of a seamless transition, the reality is it can take some time to move across from an old career into a brand new one that you love.
One of the major obstacles that I see stopping people from transitioning at all (and staying stuck in a career rut), is a fear that they won’t get paid enough.
There’s an assumption that seeing as we’re going back to the drawing board, we’ll have to go back to earning a pittance, or even into debt, until we work our way up the ladder and get more experience.
And I understand why this fear can really take a hold of you, because you know, you got bills to pay, a lifestyle to support and some of us even have a family to take care of.
I mean the last thing we want to do is let everybody down just because we’re following our passion right?
The good new is, there are ways to ensure you can follow your dreams AND still get paid enough as you transition.
One of those ways is to get yourself what is known as a bridging job.
A bridging job is a temporary, low-pressure job that will give you the security to make all of your essential financial commitments, while you either transition across into your dream career, or while you explore other potential career options.
So whether you already know exactly what you want to do and its simply a matter of making the move, or you want to spend a bit of time exploring a few different career ideas – a bridging job will help to take the pressure off and give you the space you need to find some answers.
My Bridging Jobs…
I myself had multiple bridging jobs when I was transitioning out of my corporate career and launching my own dream business.
I did an 8 month stint working as a technical writer for a big bank…I did some small business marketing consulting for a while…and I even did hands on Reiki energy healing for a time, all while I slowly built up my own dream business on the side.
The amazing thing about having a bridging job, is that it frees you from any mental stress that could otherwise be blocking you around not making enough money to pay your bills, and it provides you with the space you need to focus on your dreams (usually because bridging jobs are not too stressful or high-pressured).
If you’re looking to get into a whole new industry, then a bridging job could give you the time and space required to offer your skills up for free or to work in an internship and see if that new career really is for you. It also gives you the time to start building up your experience in a field that you love, while still meeting your financial obligations.
In all honestly, I really enjoyed the contrast of having more than one job at a time. It often gave me a fresh perspective, and stopped me from getting bored from doing just one role. Some people even decide to keep two jobs on a permanent basis (you can read more about the relatively new phenomenon of multiple careers here).
How to know if you need a bridging job? 4 questions to ask:
• Are you so busy in your current job that you work late hours and get back too exhausted to do anything but relax?
• Is your current job very stressful and demanding?
• Does your current job leave little room for you to focus on a side project or passion project?
• Are you so deeply unhappy in your current job that it’s draining you of your energy and making you lack in motivation to find anything else?
If you answered yes to two or more of the above questions, then a bridging job could be a good idea for you. If however, you feel like you’re current job already gives you the freedom you need to find something new, or if you’re the kind of person who thrives under pressure and has plenty of savings for a career transition, then maybe you don’t need a bridging job after-all.
5 examples of great bridging jobs:
1. Simply go part time or reduce your hours in your current role. It’s always worth asking your boss if going part time is an option (or even dropping down to 4 days a week). Worried they‘ll know you’re up to something? Simply say you would like to have more work / life balance in your life and spend more time with your family and they won’t suspect a thing!
2. Look for a new part time job in your existing industry. If your current employer is not open to reducing your hours, then simply look for a new part time role in your existing industry but at a different company. If its hard to find part time roles in your industry then another option you have is to go for a new full time role, and then negotiate it down to 4 days during the interview process. If you take this route, it’s best not to ask for 4 days until you know they want you and you have some leverage (ie once you’ve almost closed the deal).
3. Do some freelance consulting. If you have been in a career for a long time, chances are you can probably consult in this field pretty easily. You already have the experience and often its simply a matter of telling people in your network that you’re available for hire and you can make some fast cash on the side. I did this when I was transitioning by offering my marketing skills as a consultant. People were always asking me for marketing help so it was easy to find small business owners who wanted to hire me based on my corporate experience.
4. Ask people in your network for a job. Often it’s easier to get work (when you have no experience) from those who already know and trust you. For example, I had a friend who worked in a bank and I knew she was looking to hire a technical writer. I had zero experience working for banks and had never done a technical writing gig in my life, but she knew that I had general writing skills and she trusted that I was intelligent enough to work it out, so I got the gig. Don’t’ be shy to ask friends and family if they have any temporary, part time work that they could give you.
5. Take a low responsibility role. If you really want to take the pressure right off and are just looking for something to cover your minimum costs then you might also want to consider a low responsibility shift job. Many people find that by taking short term, shift work in retail or hospitality, it allows them to clock in and clock out, so they can really focus everything else on their transition and finding the job of their dreams.
But what will everyone think if I take a step down with a bridging job?
I get it. In some ways it can feel like you’re taking a huge step backwards by getting a bridge job – but this is where you need to focus on the BIG PICTURE.
Your bridging job is only temporary – in-fact think of it as your investor (when I worked for the Bank in an industry that was so not aligned to me, I used to get by by telling myself the Bank was my investor!).
Believe me, at first people may wonder what you’re up to, but at some point down the track once you’ve made it in your absolute dream career, those very same people will be patting you on the back and asking to take you out and pick your brains so they too can find their dream career.
And if it makes you feel any better, you never have to put your bridging job on your CV. It doesn’t really even have to exist!
10 Celebrities who had bridging jobs before they got famous
Just so you know you’re not alone, I’ve dug up a few stellar examples of celebrities who all had less than glamorous bridging jobs before they made it big time!
- Brad Pitt danced in the streets in a chicken suit for El Pollo Loco
- Jonny Depp used to sell pens over the phone
- Jennifer Aniston did a stint as a Telemarketer
- Madonna was once a cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts
- Hugh Jackman used to be hired as a clown at kids parties
- Rachel McAdams sold burgers & fries at Macdonalds
- Ashton Kutcher swept cereal dust at a General Mills factory
- George Clooney worked on a tobacco farm
- Jon Bon Jovi used to work as a janitor
- Rod Stewart worked as a grave digger
So think of it as paying your dues…your bridging job holds the key to your future career success…so so what are you waiting for?
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