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How A Bridge Role Can Help Your Career Change

Helping you get from A to....well, somewhere between A and B.

Career change can, as we know, be a tough thing to pursue. Perhaps you've decided to quit your toxic job, but are unsure what you want to do next. Perhaps you're in the midst of a change, and getting stuck in the 'Messy Middle'.

You may not always know what your ideal next role is, or it may take some time to move into it fully. Enter: the Bridge Role.

This isn't your ideal role, but is has another function: It gets you out of your current situation. In this way, it can be a saviour. So when is this helpful, and how do you know which type of bridge to take?

Let's dive in.

A bridge surrounding by palm trees, representing the bridge role

When a Bridge Role is Helpful

There are, broadly speaking, two core types of bridge roles.

One is the Foot-in-the-door role...

It's not always going to be possible to make the leap from your current profession into a new chosen area, in one slick move. This can help you (you guessed it) get your foot in the door. This is often also known as the Stepping Stone role.

Perhaps you're an accountant, who wants to work in Tech. This will require some retraining, which is fine, but you're keen to get going! A bridge role in this scenario might be strategic: perhaps you can shift from being an accountant in a manufacturing firm, to being an accountant in a tech company. You're still an accountant, but a bridge is being built to connect you to the land you ultimately want to get to.

This can be a pragmatic way of being able to build your network in tech and start to get greater exposure to the work.

The other type of bridge is the Relief Role...

This is when you just need OUT. This is the 'get me out of here' move. Ideally, this is not a knee-jerk reaction to a single stressful event, but a decision you take mindfully. You might realise that you cannot tolerate being in this current role/company any longer. In these circumstances, you may do some calculations and make the decision to take temporary work that enables you to pay rent and keep the lights on, whilst you figure out your next steps. This may often be casual work like waitress or shop assistant.

How to Choose Your Bridge

This depends on many factors:

  • The stage of your career change

  • Your mental health

  • Your finances

  • Your energy

  • Your time

What do you actually need right now?

Perhaps part of the change is that you just need to do something part-time.

Perhaps your mental health has taken a beating at your current job, and you just need a 'get me out of here' job.

Maybe you are at the start of a career change and you really want to take you time exploring options, but just can't do that in your current job. Or you might be further along and have it figured out, and so a strategic foot-in-the-door role can be useful to building your experience and network, even if it's not your final destination.

Do a review of how you've been feeling, and what's been missing in your life.

What do you need more of, now? It could be that you've been working from home too long and suffering from loneliness and isolation burnout. In that case, the last thing you want is to take another remote job. Maybe working in a bustling café would be just the ticket.

My client currently built her bridge by taking a job for the summer in a garden centre, whilst she pursues going back to school for more training.

Another client has spotted a job in her current industry, which serves a double purpose: it will get her away from her toxic boss whilst also paying her more, while she reflects on what she wants long-term! And she's already super qualified for it. Win-win.

It depends on what is right for YOU.

Possible Risks of the Bridge

One thing people commonly feel when they take a bridge, is the risk of getting stuck.

  • Stuck in complacency with the 'ease' of a new temp job

  • Stuck at this salary band

  • Stuck in their career

There's ways to guard against this. First, note down what you're specifically fearful of. Having it written out will make it far less likely you fall into it's 'trap' accidentally. What is the likelihood of this actually happening?

Second, have a plan. This might be a time limit you place on the bridge role, or it might be a specific objective you lay out for yourself (e.g. to save X amount, to heal your mental health, to learn a new skill). How will you measure your progress? Is there a trusted friend or coach who can keep you accountable with check-ins on how it's going against this objective?

Finally, acknowledge that it will feel strange, doing something different, and remind yourself of your clear motivations for taking THIS role at THIS time.

You've got this.

Support With Your Change

Not sure how to navigate your career change? Unsure if a bridge role is what you need? I help people get unstuck from jobs that aren't serving them and figure out what they're really looking for. Explore my 1:1 programme, Career Clarity Success to see how I can support you along your journey.

Always on your side,

CEO and Founder, Clarity Coaching with Louise


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