When is it a good idea to take a job just to have a job regardless if it’s related to your career goals or not? Even if it’s a part-time job. Will it derail me from my career search? How can I take a job – any job – and still stay on track in my career path and goals? What advice/tips can you provide?

Recently I attended the Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA) spring conference and sat in on panel of top HR folks from major firms in the Twin Cities; the consensus there that I firmly agree with is “it is better to be working than not working”.

First, I advise my client to complete a self assessment process to identify personal brand characteristics and strengths that will stick with them no matter the job they obtain or the preferred career they target. In any job it is essential to use positive personal brand elements to build a solid reputation that in turn can build professional references.  No matter what industry or role you are coming from a boss or co-worker that can say authentic positive words about you is extremely powerful in helping you obtain your next job.

Second,  I advise my clients to formulate two plans and execute them simultaneously:

Plan A

Get your practical needs met first. Find and obtain a short-term or part-time job that will help put food on the table and pay your bills. I remind clients that a poor credit rating can eliminate a candidate in a hiring process — going into debt is the wrong option.  Getting a job, even one out of your preferred career path, to pay your bills is the best choice.  Being employed shows a prospective employer that you are making an effort to keep your skills, knowledge and abilities current.  Overall, having a job, no matter the job, is a great way to learn something new, expand your network and discover possibilities you didn’t realize existed.

Plan B

Create a list of action items you need to accomplish to reach your preferred career objective. Ask yourself, “what do I have and what do I need to obtain my preferred job?” Turn your needs into goals, put a start and end date to each item, then take action.  Find an accountability partner or career coach to help keep you on track and overcome obstacles along the way.  Always continue networking in your field of choice, continuing educating yourself on that field, and continue applying at your targeted companies.

Remember, persistence is possibility.

— Cindy Edwards, Career Development Coach