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Can you suggest what my husband's next job should be?
July 22, 2014 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Can you suggest what my husband's next job should be?

My wonderful husband is professionally stuck. He is 45 years old, holds only a high school diploma, and at the age of 20 went to work for a very large manufacturing and retail company in our area (one of the 5 largest employers in our state) in a warehouse job. Over the past 25 years he has bounced around in a variety of blue-collar positions within the company, and for the last ten years or so he's worked at what is sort of a mailroom-type job.

Basically what he does now is that he accepts packages (sometimes THOUSANDS of packages in a day) that are incoming through FedEx and UPS, scans them, and makes sure they end up where they need to go within the company. He helps design and development employees find lost packages, and helps them ship packages to vendors and other outside B2B type folks. He also assists with the management of the product sample room. This sounds simple, but it can actually be pretty complex and requires good detective and customer service skills. He's good at his job and well-liked by everyone who works with him (which is a staff of about a hundred product line managers and developers). He is the only person in this company that does this work (others in his department are trained to do it for coverage, but his is the only full-time position).

The problem is that he is paid hourly, and has maxed out his (very low) pay grade (ie: the grade for his job is $x.xx to $1y,yy and he currently makes the highest hourly wage available). He currently makes under $13.00 per hour, even after 25 years with the company.

Without a college diploma, he cannot really advance any higher. He could return to the warehouse and make slightly more (he maintains a current forklift licence) but he LOATHES it. Also, in the past year he has had hernia surgery and also has ruptured a disc in his back, so going back to the physical grind of warehouse work would likely cause him further problems. He is eligible for tuition reimbursement but getting a degree seems to be off the table for him -- he's had many opportunities, and did take college level classes at one point some years ago, but it's just not for him. He's done some inquiry to see if Fedex or UPS would take him, but they'd need to start him as a PT driver, which would be a big step backward for our family (and we'd be unable to make our mortgage if he was making less than he is now).

Given what I've outlined above, can you think of other blue collar type jobs that he would immediately be qualified for that would pay him more? Nationally, the average wage for folks with a HS education only is around $33K a year, and it would make a huge difference for our family if he could find a job that would pay him that or a bit more.

What jobs should he be searching for? What, after 25 years with the same company, is he qualified to do in the 'outside world'? What terms should we look for when searching?

What should my husband's next job be?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total)
 
Is he willing to do something utterly different, unrelated to his past work experience? Sales is something anyone of a certain personality type can do and it can be a lot more profitable than what he's doing now.
posted by chaiminda at 7:33 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


He's good at his job and well-liked by everyone who works with him (which is a staff of about a hundred product line managers and developers). He is the only person in this company that does this work (others in his department are trained to do it for coverage, but his is the only full-time position).

The problem is that he is paid hourly, and has maxed out his (very low) pay grade (ie: the grade for his job is $x.xx to $1y,yy and he currently makes the highest hourly wage available). He currently makes under $13.00 per hour, even after 25 years with the company.


In addition to looking elsewhere, your husband should push (if he hasn't already) for getting paid at a higher grade, and possibly on a salary rather than hourly basis. This may involve revising what his formal job title and duties are, but he's the only full-timer in a critical logistical role, and < $13 /hr sounds way too low for the value he's providing the company. Chances are that management already knows this.

Talk to a union rep.
posted by kagredon at 7:35 AM on July 22 [10 favorites]


First off, with 25 years invested already, I think if I were your husband I would go into his boss/supervisor, discuss his contributions to and overall value to the company, and discuss his options within the company.

My mother basically had the same situation once with her career. She also had been with the company many years and although Mom only had a high school education, her skills were top notch and she was very well-liked, just like your husband. When she reached a level where she felt she could not move up any more with her own position, she looked into and considered a move to another division in the same company which would allow her more opportunity to advance. She applied for the position, was offered the new job, but her office scrambled to keep her there instead. They basically created a new job title for her in order to give her the benefits and salary she wanted.

Sometimes, they can, officially or unofficially, find a way to work around those salary caps (13/hr after 25 years is ridiculous!). They just don't go out of their way to advertise that; you have to be assertive and confident of your own value and negotiate to get there.
posted by misha at 7:45 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Shipping manager, logistics coordinator, sample room manager all sound like options. Maybe warehouse manager or assistant manager. I think those words will be good search terms just to get the lay of the land.

I've worked for/with a number of companies that do their own product development and sales and fulfillment, and it's stuff like iron fencing, high-end tile, lawn and garden goods like lighting or patio furniture. It's the folks who fill up office-warehouse industrial parks. They have their own warehouse operations and may even do a certain amount of direct-to-consumer drop-shipping but probably mostly wholesale. There's a lot of coordination with 3PL providers, container shipping, LTL, plus UPS/FedEx. These are probably smaller companies than his current employer, in terms of staff.

He needs to make sure he has all the technology he knows on his resume. If he knows Worldship, for example. If he's dealt with any particular Warehouse Management System software, list it. Scaling, scanning, wireless equipment, all that stuff. If he was involved in the implementation of any of it, or maintenance (like wireless access points, or software maintenance on smart scanners), that should go on there.

I think step one is to just do job searches on whatever job board the local newspaper contracts with (seems to be CareerBuilder in a lot of places), to see what kind of job descriptions come up. Then he can rewrite his resume to emphasize the things people are looking for, and he can post that and see if he gets any hits.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:46 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Or, yeah, basically what kagredon just wrote!
posted by misha at 7:47 AM on July 22


I was going to suggest getting his foot in the door with UPS or Fedex as a part time parts handler but his back may cancel that option out. if it does not, they may have flexible enough hours he could work his current job at the same time and create an inroad with one of the other two.

what about driving a truck? Doesn't have to be long haul trucking. Distpatching people and loads would require some of the same skillset - maybe look at trucking companies for that as well. Inventory managment would also require some of the same skills - incoming and outgoing shipments of everything from food stuffs to manufacturing.

I don't know where you live, but where i live, the sector that makes the most money with least education is the energy sector. Oil field services companies hire more than just rig hands and equipment operators.
posted by domino at 7:54 AM on July 22


Logistics.

Update the resume to stress the process improvement, distribution, etc. Here's one for a Coordinator, as an example.

FedEx, UPS and any freight transporter is going to need someone with Supply Chain and Warehouse experience.

So update the resume, stressing the administrative logistics portions of your husband's jobs, and go for the jobs that make sense.

Knowing the standard software programs is good, so if he'd used Oracle or Salesforce, SAS, IMI, or some other systems, it's worth emphasizing on the resume.

Beef up Microsoft Office skills, especially Excel.

He can do this!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:27 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I agree that it definitely sounds like does logistics and supply chain. The keywords suggested above are things you should search for, and also Ruthless Bunny is right that he needs to update his resume with keywords. If he can come up with some concrete numbers/stats it's even better (i.e. "Improved logistics for widget transport to reduce transit time by 25%").
posted by radioamy at 9:37 AM on July 22


other blue collar type jobs

As others have pointed out, he works in logistics and supply chain. This isn't limited to only blue collar type jobs.

holds only a high school diploma

From what you say in your question this is not the case -- he's had some college classes.

Unless there's some reason not in your question why he would only be interested in other blue collar type jobs, there is no reason to limit his job search in this way.
posted by yohko at 12:11 PM on July 22


Also, if there is a job inside or outside his company that supposedly "requires" a diploma, if he is otherwise qualified he should not let that stop him from applying. I have seen a number of times that someone with a HS degree and a few college classes has gotten a job where the company claimed a college degree was required.
posted by yohko at 12:24 PM on July 22


Yes, many years of experience can often substitute for the degree (this works for higher degrees too, sometimes), especially where one can show relevant technical, math, or software skills were learned on the job or along the way. Where the picky online job application interfaces don't let you past this degree hurdle, phone HR to discuss, or email a resume and cover letter explaining how good your qualifications are despite this. (I've been doing this occasionally. Sometimes the gravitas of a PhD or graduate degree really is required and it fails.)
posted by lathrop at 4:52 PM on July 22


Large law firms. I've worked at quite a few medium-to-large sized law firms, and they all had a facilities manager who was in charge of shipping & receiving, keeping track of office supplies, etc. The usual title is "Facilities Manager" or "Operations Supervisor."

In addition, some firms contract this service out through companies like Pitney Bowes.

The larger the law firm, the better. My current employer ships a ton of packages - not just to clients, but also to our headquarters, or one of the dozen other offices.
posted by invisible ink at 5:34 PM on July 22


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