Job hunting is like dating. Dating is like job hunting. You cast your pitch into a pool of opportunities hoping something will catch on and stay on. Sometimes you catch one and then it gets away before you can secure it. Sometimes you go long periods of time without getting what you want. However, that could also mean that you don’t actually know what you need. Sometimes the job you want may not fit your needs at the time. If you read my last post about why I created this brand, you would know that I wanted to get away from dwelling on not having that glamorous 45k/year job in my field. However, if I could have predicted The Rona, it would’ve been better for me not to have that job so soon. I could’ve been laid off or worse… stuck in zoom meetings all day at home… muting folks I don’t want to talk to outside of work. I can’t even lie, I’d find some way to pretend like I’m fully present. Maybe even put up a cardboard version of myself and claim technical difficulties while I continue the day.
I had to learn to be more patient in the process of jumping from job to job trying to get a higher wage at every turn. I had to learn that maybe things won’t work out as fast for me as some other folks, connections, and safety net be damned. But I can still enjoy the ride towards my goal. Here’s how you can do the same.
Use it for exploration.
For someone who is still thinking about what they want to accomplish, a stepping stone job could be a life saver. You can use it to talk with other folks at your job about their goals and interests to get a better understanding of your options for next steps. Like at my current EMT job, I don’t necessarily want to stay an EMT as a career. Many of my coworkers are looking into public health, nursing, PA, or med school for their next steps. I can always ask them how they chose their career pathway and make healthcare connections for the future. Gotta work with the cards you’re dealt. Also, you can figure out what kind of work environment you can tolerate for the future. Maybe you previously thought you wanted a desk job but changed your mind to something more exciting. Maybe you previously thought you wanted a job that allowed for variation, but you find that you actually want a job that has scheduled lunchtimes and breaks or an on-campus gym. Not that those are major inconveniences, but you get the idea.
Think about what you gain for the time being.
Do you gain flexibility? Health benefits? Higher wage? Customer service practice? What could you use in the current stepping stone job that you could leverage in your next job or career? Maybe this isn’t the job you want to stay at forever, but you have a decent relationship with your boss so that you have the flexibility to take classes. It’s important to have leadership in your workplace that understands your goals and how they can assist you rather than running you ragged. If you're interested in entrepreneurship, it may not even matter if your current job is perfect. If you had plans to quit your job anyways, you can eventually create your own ideal work environment after reaping the financial security of the stepping stone job.
Create an exit strategy.
You always have an exit strategy in business. Your employer will have an exit strategy prepared if they ever want to fire you. You should do the same. You could use your extra to learn a new skill to make yourself more marketable in your entrepreneurial pursuits or for your next job. No job can completely fit your needs at any given time, especially not during Rona. Create a plan to make your next move and write it down. Put out feelers. Figure out how to get a vertical career movement instead of a lateral one. What does the next job look like? Are you going back to school? Either way, if you’re giving your best work and attitude you’ll be leaving in good terms just in case you need to double back in hard times. But, we don’t double back ‘round here, okay?? OKAY.
Stepping stone doesn’t mean for you to become complacent. It just means that your time hasn’t come yet. You don’t let your stepping stone, side-piece become the commitment bae do you? Exactly. Enjoy the scenic route on the way.
What are you learning about yourself with your previous stepping stone jobs, if you had any?