Many people I talk to have an idea of what their dream job is, but it’s often a stretch role. They want to uplevel their career when they make a move, which makes sense. They want to leverage their experience and all the skills they’ve gained and step into a bigger position.
And sometimes they make it happen. I’ve seen successful upleveling when people have built strong relationships with the hiring committee and have an advocate/champion throughout the process. I’ve also seen it when people move from a larger company to a smaller one — especially when they’ve had tremendous success in scaling growth or whatever the hiring company wants to achieve.
But more often than not, there’s a disconnect between where the person is and where they want to be. That’s where the bridge role comes in.
A bridge role is a job that gets you to or closer to your ideal job.
Shift your mindset
A bridge role is not a means to an end. Just like life, our careers are all about the journey. When you enjoy what you’re doing and learning and the people around you, you’re able to produce your best work.
If you treat it primarily as a step to get what you want, it’ll feel more like an annoying chore that you have to do. And when you don’t love the work, you can’t perform your best. And when you focus on achieving that next role, your satisfaction will be fleeting. You’ll feel good for a few months and then set your sights on the next role, which is just an endless and exhausting cycle.
This is why I define a dream job as one you love and thrive in. It isn’t a specific title at a specific company. It means it’s the right job for you — in this moment of your career.
Understand your entry point
One of the most appreciated pieces of advice I give is to adopt a company mindset. When you join a great company — one with a positive culture, smart people and in growth mode, you’ll have many opportunities to grow your career. This could be making a career change or growing into a bigger leadership role.
If you’re too myopic on the role, especially because it’s the “right” title/level, but it’s at a company that isn’t a good cultural fit, it’s nearly impossible to be successful. You need to be able to be your authentic self and have strong support and collaboration in order to get results and recognition.
Many of our clients have joined high growth or unicorn companies at a lower title or without direct reports and have been promoted or given headcount within the first 6 – 12 months.
These companies don’t operate the same as big tech companies that have rigorous transfer and promotion protocols or stagnant companies that don’t always backfill positions or add new headcount.
Once our clients understand this, they open up to roles they know they’re a good fit for (the no brainer ones for hiring managers). There’s also a recency bias — they expect you to pursue whatever you’ve been doing the past couple of years.
While it may be the same function you’re doing now, you’ll be learning new products and solutions, the way the business runs and how to get things done. And you’ll be able to network with leaders to understand who you’d work well with and what they need the most help with. Once you build credibility, you’ll be able to move into an open spot or create a new position — one that is (or gets you closer to) that stretch role!
The most important piece of your career puzzle is making sure your career move aligns to what’s most important to you. Earlier this year I wrote an article on owning your career and shared a set of exercises that you can do to determine what criteria is key for you.
This also serves as your benchmark — so when you’re evaluating opportunities and offers, you can refer to your list and see how much alignment there is.
I also highly recommend talking to at least a couple of people at the company to get intel (outside of the interviewers) on the people, culture, products, leaders and so on. This gives you a few more data points to draw from. If you don’t know anyone, look for 2nd degree connections and ask your mutual connection for an intro. And check Glassdoor and other review sites.
If there’s good alignment — including getting you closer to that ideal role you’ve envisioned for yourself, you’ll increase your chances of thriving in your new job.
And the best part, It’ll be much easier for you to enjoy the journey, do your best work and achieve your career goals!
If one of your goals is to land a job where you’ll feel fulfilled, realize your potential and get the compensation you deserve, then watch our video and book a session with one of our job strategists. We’re excited to talk to you!