If you’ve been looking to take a step up or into another industry, this is a tough time to do it.
It doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. But if you’ve been aggressively pursuing a change for a few months with little to no progress, it might be time to set your sights a little closer to home.
The Stopover Job, or, “Point A and a half”
A stopover job is a step in a larger planned career path. For instance, if your ultimate goal is to be CEO, you might do “stopovers” as Director, V.P. or Senior V.P.
For a less simplified version, if you are in HR and would like to get into marketing, you might look for a role in benefit communications, where you could leverage your knowledge of benefits from your current role while expanding on your competencies in communications, a key area of focus in marketing.
The Career Gap Analysis
Gap analysis is used in business to find the places where there is a difference between where we are and where we want to be. The same kind of process works as you plan your career.
To find potential stopover jobs, try this:
- Get a piece of paper, and create columns marked “Current (or Last) Job”, “The Gap” and “Desired Job” as you see below.
- Start with the dream job, in the last column, and start writing down the skills and experience necessary to get that job. This might be things like “5 years experience in the industry,” “Microsoft Certification,” whatever will be necessary for you to be perceived as qualified. Job postings for similar jobs are a great place to start collecting the job requirements.
- Next, in the “Current/Last Job” column, write down all of the skills that you already have. So, if you already have the certifications necessary, mark that down.
- Last, the center column, “The Gap” are those skills and experience that will be necessary to get to your target job, but that you don’t already have. So, if you need three years experience in insurance to get to where you’re going, but you only have one, the gap is two more years experience. If you need management experience but don’t have it, the gap is a management role.
How to figure out potential jobs to pursue
Now that you’ve identified “The Gap,” look at what’s missing to get you where you’re going and start thinking how you might gain that experience.
This is your chance to be creative in your approach. Assume for a bit that this job is off your career track a bit. If you just want to be working, or need to be working to provide for yourself financially, there are jobs out there that you may be qualified for that can help you gain these gap skills while you continue looking for a longer-term fit.
The key is to look for opportunities where you currently have the majority of the skills necessary for the job, but may just need development in one or two key areas, where those areas will also prep you for your future career.
For instance, you may choose to be a volunteer job skills trainer to get training experience. You might sign on to work for the census to get some management experience. Holiday retail jobs can be sources of customer service and sales background.
For professional roles, you may consider consulting or contracting on related projects, or even volunteering your services to a company as an “intern” in order to build your portfolio in a certain area.
If you’re considering a hop off your traditional career track while you look for your next professional step, this method can help you ensure that you’re still making progress towards your professional goals, even in an unorthodox way.