GNcareers, from Gulf News

When is the right time to take a job?

Compromising and taking a wrong position can hurt your career, but in some cases waiting for too long to take a job also can have negative effects. Employers often worry about employment gaps, which may make them wonder if you have struggled to get a job.

So it may be tricky to decide when is the right time to compromise and take a job even if it doesn’t meet all your criteria just to shorten your unemployment period. In the first few weeks after resigning, being laid off, or whatever other reason that caused you unemployment, you may be either still busy recovering from the trauma. Soon after, you may take slow steps into redrafting your resumes, contracting recruiting agencies and applying for jobs.

Many people also fall victim to family expectations. For example, if you don’t have a job, you’d be the one expected to provide more childcare or look after elderly parents. All of these duties along with the obstacles in the job market itself can quickly add up to lengthen your unemployment. Before you know it, it would be six months down the road and you still don’t have a job.

The longer you’re out of the workforce, the tougher it becomes to make a comeback. In addition of employers’ perception of why you cannot find a job, your business connections may begin to falter and your knowledge of the industry may become dated quickly if your field is sensitive to continued education and training.

With all of this in mind, it is important that you always pursue a new job as soon as possible after losing one. Again, that doesn’t mean you should jump and take the first offer that you get. But if there has been nothing else on the table for months, a job offer in hand may be a good start. You may continue your search or explore opportunities for turning that mediocre job into something more fulfilling.

Here are some suggestions that may help you decide if it is time to compromise and take a job.

Length of unemployment

That is the biggest deal breaker. If you have been out of work for six months or longer, it is time to get back — even to a job that is well below your acceptable expectations in terms of title or compensation. You need to show employers that you are still employable and willing to compromise to stay in the industry and learn.

In addition, if the job you have doesn’t exactly fit your natural career growth, your move to a new position shortly after — if this new opportunity comes along — will appear justified.

In all cases, you will need to balance your desire to wait for the perfect job versus the harm your unemployment is causing. You also will need to be realistic as far as whether you will be able to land the dream job after being out of work for an extended period.

Availability of options

If you have several job opportunities in the pipelines and you’re getting good feedback on where you’re in the hiring process for each employer, it may not be time yet to compromise. But if the job offer that you have is the only one, with no other options on the horizon, it may make sense to just get somewhere.

The wait is of course somehow decided by your financial abilities and desire to pursue a better position, or not. But in many cases a longer wait can hurt your prospects. So make sure that even if you’re financially comfortable and don’t mind the break from work, you still prioritise your career needs and ensure that you’re not creating a gap on your resume that is hard to explain.

The job offer

Jobs that are in your industry, relevant to your skill set and provide an opportunity for learning and growth will hurt you less than those that are totally off your career. So if you must compromise, look for something that still contributes to professional growth.

Even better look for a job that focuses on an aspect of your career that you enjoy most. For example, if you’re looking for a sales director job and you always liked interacting with clients, a sales representative position can be right for you — although it is below your desired managerial level.

To work or not wait

* Avoid employment gaps

* Start your search early after losing a job

* Take a job that has potential or is enjoyable

* Keep looking if the job is temporary

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to Gulf News

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.