You’ve probably been told by a career counselor, a mentor or a well-meaning family member that it’s a bad idea to take a job underneath the skill level of your previous job(s). You don’t want to give the appearance of going “backwards.”
At the same time, right now alongside the ever-increasing holiday ads you may be also noticing something else: help wanted signs and job listings for seasonal help, particularly in the retail industry.
So what’s a job-seeking military spouse to think? Does seasonal work make sense in your career journey?
To think about whether or not seasonal work makes sense to you, here are some reasons I think you SHOULD consider it:
Your Family Really Needs the Money
In my mind, if the answer to this question, “Does my family really need the money?” is yes (and there are many layers to this that I’ll touch on later)), then seasonal work always makes sense.
The reality is there are times in our lives where we take whatever income is presented and we can’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not it makes long-term career sense. My 4-year-old son says, “take what you get and don’t throw a fit.”
So even if the seasonal work presented doesn’t seem to make sense in your overall career journey, it always makes sense to provide for your family.
When the Job Will Fill Your Time with Something You Enjoy
There are many reasons people pursue work opportunities, the most obvious of course is income, but others decide to work because they just want to.
My mental health is always better when I’m working; it’s just my personality. If that’s the case for you and you find yourself in a new duty station without work or you’ve been chasing that dream job opportunity for months and nothing has come, or maybe your service member is deployed and you have more time on your hands than you’re accustomed to having – taking a seasonal position may be just the change of scenery you need!
When This Opportunity May Lead to More Opportunities (SPOILER ALERT: All Opportunities May Lead to Other Opportunities!).
So you guys know I’m going to tie just about everything I can back to networking and this is no exception.
Just like you’ve been told that volunteer work can lead to networking connections so can seasonal work.
Have you ever sat in a Starbucks (either for leisure or because that’s your chosen office for the day) and listened to the conversations going on around you? You never know who is going to walk through the door of these places! The possibilities of who you could meet in these positions are endless!
Find an environment that lets you interact with the customers and you may just talk your way into an interview or a permanent opportunity following your temporary work!
Just like there are some reasons that make sense for pursuing seasonal work, there are other times when I think you SHOULD NOT consider seasonal work:
When Taking the Job Will Add More Stress Rather Than Relieve It
When considering the first item above (income), make sure you weigh ALL the aspects.
Consider the actual take-home income. Add up your potential child care costs (or dog-walking/pet-sitting costs).
Think about work clothes (are you going to have to sink a bunch of money into wardrobe before starting this temporary work?).
Last but not least, think about your time.
This is the holidays after all. Were you hoping to travel? Once you’ve weighed all of those factors, if the idea of taking the seasonal position gives you anxiety rather than makes you feel better about your situation, it may not be for you this time around. Do your best to look at other ways to meet your needs for this season.
But what about missed opportunities?
Maybe you’ve got your eye on your dream job already. You’ve put in your application and you just know they’re going to call tomorrow or next week? What to do then?
Honestly, I think you should still consider seasonal work. I can’t tell you how many spouses have applied for positions and waited WEEKS if not MONTHS for someone to respond. I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer about your dream job, but seriously, if they do call, you can still exit the temp work PROFESSIONALLY.
Be honest with the manager, apologize for staying less time than you planned and let them know that ONLY your dream job would have torn you away from the commitment you made to them.
IF possible, please please please give some notice. Even if the temp work is not in your industry of choice, they’re still running a business and they still deserve all of the professional courtesy they offered you.
To be honest, adding stress rather than relieving it is one of the only reasons I can think of why you should not consider taking a seasonal position. There are just too many other good things that could come out of you getting out of the house, earning some extra income and meeting new people!
Just think…the barista you’re working next to may have an uncle that works in your industry…