Should You Take a Job Outside Your Industry?

Is it better to take a job outside your industry, or wait until something better comes along? It’s a precarious situation. If you wait for something to come up, you might be waiting (and struggling financially) for a while, however if you do take a job that’s outside of your desired field or specialty, you may be settling when something else is right on the horizon.

When you’re deciding whether or not to accept a position, it’s important to ask yourself 3 main questions:

Is this the direction you want to take your career?

Is there room for growth?

Do you have the luxury of being picky about what kind of job you take or do you need to find something now (due to finances, employment gaps, etc.)?

Ultimately, if it’s not the direction you want to take your career, it’s not worth it. If you have the opportunity to take a new job, but it’s not the direction you want to take your career, it’s not worth the risk. If you’re exploring an opportunity because it has better pay or better benefits, that is a personal decision where you have to weigh the pros and cons.  But think on this: if you drive 20 miles south when you want to go north, you’re going to have to drive an extra 20 miles back in the direction you want to go. Essentially, once you take your career in an opposite direction, it is that much harder to get back on track.

What will happen if you take a long term job that isn’t what you want? On the surface, it may not seem terrible. Everyone understands that you need to make a living and subsequently do what needs to be done to make that happen. However if you do take a long term job that isn’t in the direction you want to go, you might be creating more hurtles for yourself. 

Think of it this way: If you have been working in business development but want to transition into marketing, the more positions you take in business development, the more likely you are to appear as a business development professional, and less likely to appear as a marketing professional. If you want to transition into marketing, a better way to go about this would be to take classes and volunteer to collaborate on projects with the marketing department at your current company. Then it makes sense when you apply for a marketing role. Even if you have to start at the bottom, taking a role in the right industry or field is an important step. The more you can put on your resume that’s marketing related, the more your marketing skills will be highlighted. 

When you’re looking to transition jobs or roles, it is important to think about the big picture. This is where the “room for growth” question comes in. Are you exploring other opportunities only to find that you have to start at the ground? If you want to take your career in a specific direction, look for roles that point you in the direction of your goals. Focus on positions where there is room for growth, so that even if you have to step down a level in authority, you can take solace in the fact that the end justifies the means. 

"When you’re looking to transition jobs or roles, it is important to think about the big picture."

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Everyone starts from the bottom at some point, so as long as there is room for you to grow and learn, there is nothing wrong with starting from scratch.

What Should You Do If You Haven’t Found the Right Opportunity, But Need Money Now?

If you are struggling financially and find yourself eager to work, even if it’s not the best position, consider taking a temporary role where you can explore your options and establish new connections. There is nothing wrong with taking a temporary or contract position to fill the transition space, however taking a permanent job is just that-- more permanent.  

In this case, I always suggest that people look into temporary or contract positions. The partnership of "temporary" and "job" has a somewhat negative connotation, but I personally know many people (myself included) where temp positions have opened completely unexpected doors.

Temporary positions serve three main benefits:

They give you income while you’re in transition or in between jobs;

They give you the freedom to look and apply for other jobs while you’re still working without the guilt;

They establish networking connections and opportunities for you.

If you excel at your temporary position, chances are that you will meet people who can a) point you in the right direction, b) know of a job that may interest you, or c) will work with you to keep you at the company but progress to an area that better suits your qualifications.

There is no down side to taking a temporary position in between jobs, because if you don’t like it, you can simply end the position. Similarly, if you do find a better position, there is no need to feel bad about leaving a job or a company. A temporary position is made to be flexible, so companies are generally pretty understanding if you find a full time position that is better suited for you long term.

It can be frustrating when deciding if it’s better to take a job outside your industry or wait until something better comes along, but ultimately, you have to keep your eye on the prize. Focus on finding positions that will propel you in the right direction, even if you have to work your way up, and work hard to highlight your unique skills and abilities.


A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.