What's a guy with 11 years work experience but no skills suited to do next?
October 28, 2008 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I've been with my current job for over 10 years, but haven't developed any significant skills in this field that will help me in the future, and I'm starting to get freaked out....(Details inside)...

I guess I'll start from the beginning....
Upon graduating college about 15 years ago, I got an internship which turned into a job at an independent movie studio...It was my dream job and I hoped to stay in the industry for the rest of my life.
Four years later, the movie studio went under, but with my contacts I was able to land a job pretty quickly at a 'niche' movie magazine in the advertising department.....Sales was never my passion as I am not the most outgoing person in the world, but selling for this magazine wasn't particularly difficult....At times, it was as easy as sending out a mass email to a database of contacts I created and waited for the advertising orders to come in....
I made some good money, was able to bank some of it, enjoyed my new position, and just enjoyed life.....
I am sure if I applied myself, I could have done alot more business and made so much more money, but I didn't. This job gave me the take home $$ that I figured I would not make until I was 45-50 years old and worked my way up a ladder....I was content with what I was making, so I didn't go the extra mile....I continued to live off the 'niche' market that I knew would advertise month in month out...

Flash forward 11 years. I am still with the job...Each year has seen ad sales drop somewhat, but not so much that I wasn't comfortable....The last few years I still continue to make more then I thought I would at this point in my life...Perhaps I never had such extreme goals?

My job is relatively safe for now. The niche market has pretty much ensured that the magazine won't be going under anytime soon. I have been experiencing some burn out lately and have begun to consider what comes next.

I have spoken to a few recruiters who have reached out to me for other sales positions, but was elminated from consideration pretty quickly when my database of clients didn't really extend past my niche market. Sales was never my dream job anyway, despite the pay.

So, I don't know what comes next. I'm in my later 30's, and I in some ways feel that I don't have any significant skills. I feel that any place I get hired at next will be at a starting level which at this stage of my life, I don't know if I can accept for financial reasons.

I know I need to accept responsibility for this, but how can you really blame a 24 year old who is making good money to continue to hone and expand his skills? I wasn't a dumb kid. I knew from Day one how lucky I was to land the job, but I didn't know how to anticipate how limited and unqualified for the real world I would feel over a decade later....

The kicker; I now have a wife and baby boy at home. We have a house and a mortgage. The wife will be staying at home for the immediate future as day care for our son would basically eat up any $$ my wife would have brought home. Our expenses are about 10-15% more then what my take home pay winds up being monthly.

I have a decent amount of savings and retirement funds that we can dip into as needed, and eventually the Mrs. will return to the working class which will unload some of the burden.

What do I do next? I figure the way things are going, I have another year left in me for this job before it is time to move on. I have no , zero, zilch, none, idea of what I'd like to do next? I'd love to stay in this field, but the job does require travel and nights, which I'd rather dedicate to my wife and son.

Should I take these career aptitude tests? Meet with a career counsler? Are there any skills I should learn before jumping into the job hunt class? I really have no clue where to begin. I just want to be prepared.....

Sorry for the ramble....This is some advice I have been needing for a long while now, and hopefully I have been able to relax it in print to make it understandable....
posted by TwilightKid to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely talk with a career counselor. With 11 years experience, you should be able to position yourself for other jobs. By the way, your current position doesn't sound so bad. You are making good money and the job is safe. You're in a good spot. You may want to consider getting another degree. Or - talk to your manager about taking on different / new roles at the company. Why can't you move from sales to marketing, etc?
posted by xammerboy at 8:32 AM on October 28, 2008

I have been recruited for other sales positions, but more then anything, the potential employers care about my database of clients, which unfortunately is limited to the niche of my current magazine.....In a way, I am no more qualified for another ad sales job then a kid right out of college. I am qualified if not over qualified for my magazine and the three other that share my niche.
I've considered looking into teaching as it would eventually give me the schedule to maximize my time with my family and provide a pension should i be able to stick it out twenty years or so....But my heart is in the entertainment field.
Our company is relatively small and I do work with the marketing department quite a bit already. A switch to that full time, may open up and broaden my skill set somewhat, but most of my salary is commission which is why leaving the sales side of things a tough position.
I am in a good position. In this economy and market, I am lucky to have a job I enjoy (despite the burn out), and to be making realtively easy money. But I see the wrigin on the wall, and I know that this 'gravy train' is starting to slow down....I just want to start laying the groundwork for my next move now, rather then do it in a panic later on.... Time frame; one - 1 1/2 years I figure......thx.
I'll look into a career counslers as well!
posted by TwilightKid at 8:41 AM on October 28, 2008

If you don't mind working two jobs at once for a little bit, you can look into temp jobs. If you live in a medium sized city, there will undoubtedly be a temp job agency around. With a temp job, you can generally test the waters for different opportunities out there, plus most temp jobs turn into full time positions down the road.

It's just an idea, but I would second the suggestion of seeking out a career counselor.
posted by nikkorizz at 9:12 AM on October 28, 2008

Are there any other responsibilities with your present employer that you can take on? If you've been there that long and are on good terms with them, maybe it's worth having a conversation with them and letting them know that you'd like to do other things within the company. You might end up being happier doing something new there while also acquiring the experience to later take somewhere else.
posted by gfrobe at 9:15 AM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

if you've been in the same niche for over a decade, you must be pretty familiar with that niche and its market, yes? i know that ad sales is often considered "marketing" but maybe you could move into a marketing department at another magazine? or maybe see about getting a higher up position in your department. i mean, you must have SOME skills, even if they're the skills we all know are bs.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:07 AM on October 28, 2008

Like I had mentioned, we are a relatively small publishing company, so there is no real room for growth. I do assist in a lot of the marketing decisions of my magazine and help with promotional idea's and such, so I guess I do have some marketing skills that could be of value.

I'm the head of the ad sales department for my mag, and do assist from time to time in getting some business for our other titles, so there is no real growth potential.

Going back to my original question/concern, have I limited myself to the magazine/publication field? Without starting over, I feel extremely under qualified when I do my random job searches.

I think the career counsler and aptitude tests really should be my starting point.
posted by TwilightKid at 10:38 AM on October 28, 2008

Have you tried contacting the university you went to? A lot of university career centers can administer career tests, as well put you in touch with alums who are in the fields that interest you.

You may also want to contact old professors who will remember you and let them know that you are trying to make a career change. They might know of people who are hiring.

The key to this job stuff is building a network of contacts and then shaking the tree to see what opportunities come your way.
posted by reenum at 2:06 PM on October 28, 2008

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