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Interim JobsYou’ve decided to leave your present position, or you’ve been laid off. Maybe you realized that what you’ve been doing for work no longer fits, yet there’s no clear, new direction that’s drawing you.

If you’re stuck in a career transition, you can be confused about where to go next. Often, finding an interim job can be a good way to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are some common questions and concerns I often hear from people in transition, and what to do if you find yourself uttering them:


“I know what I don’t  want, but not what I do  want.”

If this sounds at all familiar, you’re not alone. What’s happening is that you’re waiting for that next plum opportunity to come along so you can leap into your new, exciting future… but it’s not here yet.

The longer you wait, the more uncomfortable the old thing gets, the more stuck you feel and the more discouraged you appear. This is when some of you will apply for anything and everything out there just to get out of the awful place you are now. And that’s when I hear people say:


“There are no jobs out there!”

But if you don’t know what you really want, how can you find it? (Click here to tweet this thought.)

If you’re simply desperate to get away from something without a clear sense of what you’re excited about doing, stop a moment and think about it. Would you hire someone like that?

Employers have excellent radar and can immediately tell when a person isn’t passionate in the job interview. No matter how hard you work at finding just the right answer to “Why are you interested in this job?” you won’t be able to convince an employer you’re the ideal person to hire.

Which may lead you to ask:


“But I have to work. What am I going to do?”

First, you’re going to let go of any preconceived notions you have about how this is all supposed to work.

If you’re abiding by last century’s rules of “don’t leave a job until you have another one” or “short stints kill careers,” then you’re behind the times. According to the Department of Labor, today, on average, people have 10 to 14 jobs — before age 38. If you can comfortably describe the positive reason(s) for shifting to something new and how you can be a resource to your new employer, then changing jobs can be portrayed confidently and constructively.

Secondly, define what you want from a transition job. As I mentioned in my previous post, you need to know your basic budget in specific terms and the kind of money that will allow you to survive. We’re not talking about having enough to indulge in daily luxuries like lattés; this is bare bones financial planning.

In order to do without certain things, you’ll have to be able to determine why you’re making this choice. Establish clear goals for this transition job: What will it allow you to do? Renew your burned-out self? Allow time for figuring out your next chapter? Set parameters: How much time will this take? Three months? Six months? A year or two? Ask yourself how big of a transition you’re looking at. The bigger the transition, the longer the interim plan needs to be.


“Can I make my current job into a transition job that will no longer drain me?”

Examine your current work situation. Ask yourself what it would take to stay put and if this fits your transition requirements. If so, renegotiate your responsibilities in a way that allows the company to get what it needs while you also get what you need. It has to be a win-win, or it won’t work.

If you aren’t able to stay where you are and you’re unclear about your longer-term vision and direction, then it’s absolutely appropriate to explore other transition jobs.


“What are the benefits and challenges of taking a transition job?”

First, let’s define a transition job. A transition job is a temporary choice that meets your basic financial needs without draining you or keeping you from doing the introspective work that’s needed in a transition. The word “interim” that we’ve been using explains this choice quite well. An interim job is a step you take that’s not permanent, but which does give you some breathing space.

Often, it’s a job you have done and enjoyed in the past. This makes for an easy search that involves a phone call to a contact or two with whom you’ve previously worked. Other times, it’s something you do for a hobby, are naturally good at or are excited about learning.

The benefits and challenges of taking a transition job include:



It’s easy to find and easy to do.

If you’re not clear about why you’re doing it, you might get bored.

It eliminates the worry of paying the rent and putting food on the table while you transition.

You temporarily have to cut way back on — or even eliminate — your normal expenses.

It gives you a break from the rat race to step back and rediscover your passions.

Without some structure and planning, time can get away from you, and you may find you didn’t focus on the essential, internal questions of your transition.

It’s a viable short-term solution.

Fears may arise of getting stuck doing this forever.


Finally, while this is a proven and successful strategy to take, you need to create support around you in order to make this happen. My clients have found the concept of taking or creating a transition job to be very freeing in their career process, but they’ve also realized that there are some who don’t grasp this approach. If you live in a more conservative area, you might find yourself having to be even more confident in this path since it may feel a bit like you’re bucking the system to take an interim job.


“What can I do so I don’t feel so alone?”

I encourage you to seek out support. Ask around. There are many supportive teams, groups and career counselors who can aid you in developing an interim transition plan. Some other resources include temp agencies in your area, (for general job hunting resources), (for freelancing opportunities) and (for the over 50 age group). And remember to access the people who have been supportive to you over the years. They are gems in your life.

Would you consider a transition job? Have you taken one in the past? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Carol Vecchio founded the Centerpoint Institute for Life and Career Renewal in 1992. Her pioneering programs have positively impacted thousands of people who are now designing and living lives they love through Discovery Groups like “Your Personal Brand for Effective Networking,” “‘Passion Search” and “LifeWork Renewal.” Carol created the renowned “Natural Cycles of Change,” which is the foundation for her book The Time Between Dreams.

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