Some maintain that a lengthy gap on your resume renders you less desirable to prospective employers, suggesting it makes the most sense to take the mediocre job, collect the paycheck and continue your search for a better fit.
But taking a position that you don’t really want can do just as much damage to your resume cred, not to mention your future earnings potential, warns Ken Schmitt, president of Turning Point Executive Search firm in Carlsbad, Calif.
“In fairness to your employer and yourself, you should never accept any job unless you’re willing to commit for at least a year,” he says. “What happens is you’ll be unhappy and end up leaving in three months. Then your resume starts to look very unstable, which makes it harder to get employed.”
When It Pays to Step Down
There are times, of course, when it makes good sense to settle for less.
If you’re strapped for cash, for example, it’s a no-brainer. You do what it takes to pay the bills, says Lynn Berger, a New York-based career coach.
Likewise, if you’re in an industry that’s shedding jobs such as manufacturing, financial services, or publishing, it might also pay to take a lesser position outside your field for the sake of job security.
“If you’re in a career that’s on the decline and you feel that your job is threatened you have to create a different situation for yourself,” says Berger. “You have to think about opportunities in your own field.”