Transitioning Careers? 5 Ideas To Find A Low-Stress Job In The Meantime


It’s a catch-22 when you’re miserable on the job but too busy to look for a better one. You may be too burnt out to think rationally about next steps. You certainly won’t be fun at networking events! Enter the “transitional job” which will keep some money coming in, but give you space to recharge and time to pursue that “new, yet-to-be-determined career”.

The ideal transitional job is something that you can land quickly so you can escape your misery quickly. That said, even if your first priority is speed to hire and not career-building opportunities, you can still find work that gives you forward momentum on your career path:

1 — Focus on consulting and project work

This Chief of Staff probably has excellent administrative skills, which would make them an attractive candidate for temp agencies. The temp firms can help land the near-term projects, while this Chief of Staff can focus their own efforts on researching long-term options. Temp jobs can also turn into long-term employment, so it’s a good way of trying out different companies and different jobs, keeping your skills sharp and continuing to meet people. A potential negative is that the nature of temp work means that you’re parachuting into an existing environment and need to get up to speed quickly, which might be too stressful for some people. On the plus side, given that the assignments are temporary, there is a clear exit, and knowing that might be enough to decrease the stress level.

There are agencies who place accountants, marketing people, even C-level employees, so inventory your skills and get on the relevant agencies’ radars. In the meantime, you can also canvas friends and family, former employers and others in your network who might need or know someone who needs extra help. Your consulting business might be the first step in your pivot to entrepreneurship.

2 — Get more involved with your hobbies and passions

Let’s say you’re in finance by day, but an arts lover at night. Target transitional jobs at a theatre, museum, media company or wherever gets you closer to spending more time on things you love. The job itself might be at a more junior level – for example, you’re an investment analyst but you take a job as a bookkeeper – but you’ll be in an environment you love. From a career standpoint, you’re getting a behind-the-scenes professional look at a personal passion. Future employers will appreciate your enthusiasm to take a risk and get more involved in things you love. This could be a first step in a new career based on something you already love to do (that’s how this career changer went from academia to professional organizing!). A potential negative is that you fall out of love with your hobbies once they turn into work. On the plus side, this is a transitional job so you can leave and never return, knowing you at least tried it out.

3 — Target companies you admire

Similar to taking a role – even a junior one or different in scope – relating to a hobby you love, targeting whatever role at companies you love gets you in the door for now, with the possibility of moving into a better role down the line. At the very least, you get a firsthand look at a company you love. You might even score a discount, if it’s a company whose product or service you use! A potential negative is that there aren’t current openings to apply to, in which case you would have to network your way into the hidden job market at these companies. This is doable, but not a quick transitional job search.

4 — Look at universities, including your alma mater

Universities are great environments to research and explore, and you might be able to get your classes paid for when you’re working there. If you live near your alma mater, that should be your first stop since your existing affinity will give you a hiring advantage. Similar to pursuing jobs relating to hobbies and passions, your target jobs at universities don’t have to be fully in sync with your previous experience. This Chief of Staff could use their administrative, organizational and relationship-building skills in admissions, alumni affairs, development, career services or supporting a range of academic departments. A potential negative is that, depending on the role, the hiring process can take a long time, so this may not be an option if you need a quick exit.

5 — Balance strictly-for-the-money jobs with career-building pro bono opportunities

You can advance your career outside whatever job you take, so even if you take a job just for the money (e.g., babysitting your neighbor’s kid, stocking shelves at the neighborhood grocer), you can pair that with volunteer opportunities that keep you learning, keep your skills updated and keep your network strong. This type of money job may be your first stop in your transition, while you’re exploring universities, dream companies, hobbies and temp work. You can always move into another transitional job at a later time. A potential negative is that these jobs may not be mentally taxing, but still can be physically and/or emotionally taxing. You might find these jobs are still too stressful and don’t give you enough opportunity to recharge.


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