By Denene Brox
Landing a job is tough these days. The job market is flooded with unemployed workers -- so finding a job that's a good fit is even tougher. If you're a professional who has been out of work for a while, you may have to take a "transition job" to make ends meet, or just to keep busy.
Transition jobs often don't require a lot of experience or education, usually pay less and can be easier to land. Industries like retail, healthcare and food service hire lots of workers in customer service and support roles. Temporary agencies can also help you stay engaged with the working world.
And there are many other benefits to taking a transition job -- it's all about making the most of your opportunities and spinning the job the right way. Here are some tips on making a transition job work for you.
Fill Your Resume Gaps
In addition to providing you an income, transition jobs put you back into the ranks of the employed, the group most attractive to potential employers.
"Transition jobs help you avoid those large gaps of unemployment on your resume, which is a concern in this economy," says Nancy DeCrescenzo, director of career services at Eastern Connecticut State University.
According to career coach Deborah Brown-Volkman, taking a transition job shouldn't hurt your resume. "The No. 1 thing that recruiters and employers ask is what you've been doing with your time," she says. "So you're better off doing something than nothing. It shows that you're a go-getter -- that you're out there working hard, doing whatever it takes to pay your bills."
Network in Your Target Industry
Just because you spend a few hours a day creating latte art at a coffee shop doesn't mean you should stop networking in your desired industry. Continue -- or start -- to attend industry events and workshops in your target field, and don't neglect potential connections at your transition job.
"One of the big assumptions that people make is that our network has to be in our target industry," says DeCrescenzo. "But your network can be the customers or clients that you interact with in a transition job that help you make your next move. It's all about networking right now."
Learn a New Industry
If you're looking for a position in a different industry, taking a lower-level job in that field will give you the opportunity to learn the business from the ground up, says Joe Watson, the author of Where the Jobs Are Now: The Fastest Growng Industries and How to Break into Them.
"It's great to get a transition job in a growth industry such as green energy or healthcare because it gives you an inside advantage," he says. "As the economy recovers, those fields will have exponential growth."
Keri Coffman-Thiede took a transition job in customer service while she trained for a new career as a life coach. "My transition job gave me the time to go through coach training and begin my own business," she says.
Focus on Transferable Skills
Any type of transition job will provide you with transferable skills that will not only help you in future jobs, but also look great on your resume. Highlight skills required in many jobs and industries, such as communication skills and project management.
[Denene Brox is a Kansas City-based freelance writer. She regularly covers career topics and trends.]