Explain finding a career to me like I'm five, I mean, as if five-year-olds had to find jobs.
About 18 months ago, I lucked into a just-good-enough job ($13/hour and health insurance, but no possibility for raises or promotions, and didn’t require my/any degree) in a larger, more expensive city. The plan was to use this as a toehold in a larger, more dynamic job market. Since then, I’ve sent out 8-12 applications per week, and...nothing. Well, not literally nothing. I’ve had a couple of bites, but always for positions which are frankly lateral moves: jobs with similar wages, no degree requirement, 1099/temporary status/no insurance, and, critically, no realistic potential for advancement.
The problem seems to be that every job, even “entry level” positions, require either specialized education or 2-5 years of experience doing something extremely specific--I apply anyway, but never seem to get any traction. I’ve been working full-time since 1996, but mostly in a weird corner of retail (a food co-op). I completed a bachelor's in biology in 2009, but all that seems to qualify me for is short-term lab tech work
. What I want is a job that will eventually lead to some kind of advancement, or will at least provide skills and experience that I can use to find other, better jobs.
Options I’m considering:
1. Find a temp agency and quit my permanent job. Just thinking about this makes my heart race, in a bad way--I don’t have much of a financial cushion and can’t afford to be out of work for very long, and I’m not sure this is a sound strategy for finding a career.
2. Go back to school for a Master’s or some sort of professional degree or certification. Virtually all of my friends and peers who have a career of any kind have done this: three librarians, three teachers, a dietitian, a social worker, etc. But, I don’t have any idea how to choose a program, and I’m extremely
apprehensive about buying $25-60,000 more education on spec, so to speak.
3. Accept this as the New Normal and alter my lifestyle to live as comfortably and responsibly as possible on $22-28,000/year. This would probably involve leaving my job and this expensive city, possibly moving in with my aging parents, and accepting that I won’t be able to pay off my debt or save for retirement in a conventional sense.
Other salient facts:
1. My resume is in good shape and I write a strong cover letter for each application.
2. I don’t have any strong preferences about what kind of work I eventually do. I did the What Color is Your Parachute?
thing a few years ago and my only conclusion was that I should have gotten an engineering degree.
2b. Except sales, I really can't do sales. I'm also not great at the kind of "hustle" and self-promotion (LinkedIn, personal web page, cold-calling employers) which seems to be expected of job seekers.
3. I'm not sure how to network. My friends and acquaintances are either underemployed or in jobs which have a specific educational barrier to entry (see above) and, similarly, my current job has the firewall of an advanced degree between my position and the professional-level jobs.
4. My university's career services office is 350 miles away and useless; last time I visited they offered to show me how to set up their co-branded Monster.com service and gave me a two-page handout covering basic resume formatting.