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Q-and-A: Interim work during job search

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, July 05, 2013 06:30 am
In last week's column I provided the steps for finding an interim job while maintaining the search for your “real” job. This week I'll answer common questions from readers about the wisdom of taking a lesser position and how to present the situation to employers.A.: Yes, there are times when it's better to focus on nailing down the job you most want instead of splitting off into the search for a lesser position. For example, when you have reason to believe that your search will go quickly, slowing the tempo to take an interim job is counter-productive. But if you anticipate a more difficult search, or you've been looking for months, then it makes sense to augment your cash flow by picking up a part-time or lower-level job.A.: That happens, so it's good to recognize the possibility early on. To avoid getting stuck, you have to be disciplined, and you also have to stay “hungry.” You should still devote at least one or two hours a day to your job search, even while working in your interim job. You'll also need to keep up in your career field, which may mean attending professional meetings regularly or taking online classes in your free time.A.: The rules vary from state to state, but generally speaking, your unemployment payments will pause while you're drawing income from an interim job. If your interim pay is less than your unemployment in a given week, you'll usually receive the difference for that week.A.: Your response to this question could vary according to the type of work you're seeking, both in your interim search and in your “real” job search. But whether your interim work would be in retail, customer service or some other position where evening and weekend hours are normal, you can honestly give this answer: “I'd like to stay as long as possible in this job. If I were to get an offer from an employer in my career field, I'd be interested in staying on here in the evenings or on weekends if the hours were available.”

This is honest because, although you might believe that you would quit the interim job immediately after being hired elsewhere, in truth you won't know until it happens what you'll actually do. Many people keep their interim jobs after being re-employed, partly as a safety net and partly because they like the extra income.A.: Two possibilities present themselves: Say nothing unless asked, or simply explain that you're managing expenses between jobs by working in this interim role.A.: I usually answer yes to this question, particularly if the last career position ended a while ago. One way to include non-career interim jobs on a resume is to add a section titled “Additional Employment” with a very short description of each job.A.: Again, I will usually answer yes to this question, with the caveat that you should keep the answer brief and return the conversation to the opportunity at hand. The fact that you've been working outside the field will make a better impact than saying “I've been trying to find work all this time.”

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