I hate my job, and I don't know what to switch to... how screwed am I?
October 20, 2009 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I need a new job, and I need one by the end of the year, because I'm very close to walking out of the one I have now. Help me, hive mind, as I'm at my wits end. What the hell can I do that's in Philadelphia, doesn't require a car, isn't sales, and pays around $30k?

If you check my previous questions, you'll see that I've asked this thing before. At this point, though, it's getting dire. My needs are pretty damn specific, w/r/t pay, too, as I have student loans and other debt out the wazoo, as well as a $750/mo lease. I don't want to recap the ways my current job makes me hate myself and my life. I just want something else.

This is my résumé. I don't have a lot of skills. I've worked in tele-sales in some form or another for my entire professional life, and I hate it. I loathe it, I despise it. I hate cold-calling, I hate trying to convince people to buy something, give money, or accept a call from someone else, at least over the phone. I hate interrupting people, I hate being hung-up on, and I hate being brushed off. I need something else to maintain my sanity.

Thing is, I've officially run out of ideas as to what to search for. I thought I could move to a career in development for non-profits or performing arts, which Philly has no shortage of, but I can't even get an interview. I suspect this is because tele-fundraising has as much to do with proper development as LOGO has to do with programming in Assembler.

I'm barely making enough money. I tried going back to my second job doing tele-fundraising, but I lasted a week before illness sidelined me. I'm barely well enough to do my day job, and that's not paying enough because I'm not making my goal.

Please, please, PLEASE do not suggest volunteering, unpaid internships, or anything that will reduce my already poor income. Ways I can get better at my current, shitty job would be useful, but I don't want to do sales any more. I never wanted to.

So, I'm officially at my wit's end. Help me, Metafilter, as I'm totally out of ideas.
posted by SansPoint to Work & Money (22 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Administrative assistant? Receptionist?
posted by anniecat at 2:59 PM on October 20, 2009

Perhaps you can try phone surveys? Essentially the same thing you do but no sales, which makes it a heck of a lot more enjoyable (speaking from previous experience).
posted by Vindaloo at 3:01 PM on October 20, 2009

That is not the worst resume I've ever seen but it's not the best either. (Truly, it's very middling.) You DO have a lot of skills, you just haven't teased them out. You need a skills based CV, where the highlighted skills are tailored to the job you're applying for. I would do a profile, key skills, employment history, technical skills, education.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:05 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I work in nonprofit, and have worked closely with development.

I'm going to be blunt, partly because I'm on my way home for supper: your resume is Not Good. Its way too vague and doesn't really tell me what you're good at, what you're passionate about, and what you can do for me. A chronological resume like yours isn't always the best format for people new to the work force. I would advise you to rewrite your resume into a skills based resume so that hiring managers know what your capabilities and passions are. Imho, the key to writing a good skills based resume is to look at a bunch of job postings in whatever field you are looking to enter, and then create a resume that tells hiring managers that you can do the things they need you to do.

Here's the Indeed.Com listing for jobs paying $30,000 + in Philly. Start applying for stuff. BUT! Take the time to tailor each resume and cover letter you send out to that particular job. Its time consuming (it gets easier the more you do, just because you have a library of stock phrases to pull from that you develop over time), but it works.

Memail me if you want, and I can provide you with a sample resume to look at.
posted by anastasiav at 3:10 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You need to rewrite your resume, and stress the skills you want to use in your next job, and discard the skills that are irrelevent.

The big question is, what do you want to do? The second question is, do you have the skills to do it (you probably do). The third question is, does it pay enough? The fourth question is, if it doesn't pay enough but you still want to do it, can you get creative and make more money or reduce expenses?

It would be good to know how you have been approaching prospective employers so far. Are you sending in resumes over the transom? Are you applying for jobs and getting no response? Are you cold calling decision makers?

For the first two, you will probably get little response. If you are cold calling prospective employers and are getting no response, you need to change your style.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:28 PM on October 20, 2009

See if Penn is hiring for anything in your line of expertise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:39 PM on October 20, 2009

Best answer: Have you considered working for the federal government? I bet that, based on your customer service experience, you could get into a public contact job with an agency (via a Philadelphia field/regional office), then leverage that into a different role in the future.

If I were you, I'd go to the nearest Social Security field office and ask if they were hiring claims reps, benefit authorizers, or service/phone reps. If not, then I'd try the Census Bureau. Then the VA. Etc, etc.

Also try USAjobs.gov -- it’s currently listing about 150 jobs for the Philadelphia metro area, several in the $30k range. Example: Help administer a transit subsidy program for veterans. (starting at $32k).
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 3:59 PM on October 20, 2009

Best answer: Re what could you do, how about temping, call centre customer service, or market research? The last two aren't awesome, but they're heaps better than telesales as far as stress goes and you aren't selling anything.

Re your resume, it's not terrible or anything but it doesn't provide a compelling reason to hire you, or really say anything about you.

After you decide what kind of job you're going to focus on getting out of telesales with, take a look in an online job database at 5-10, or more, job descriptions for that kind of job to see what kind of duties you'll need to convince and employer you can perform and what kind of skills you'll need to be able to demonstrate.

So, say you want to go into admin. (Hooray for paper pushin'!) and you're thinking you'll apply to temp agencies. Take the top three-five duties / skills you've identified and provide a dot point list of how you are super-awesome good at these things. Temp agencies want to know if you can use MS Office, file, answer the phone, fit in well in new environments and type, for example. Put this dot point list at the top, ahead of your employment history.

Then, in your employment history section, do the same thing, but be more specific. Use an abbreviated STAR (situation, task, action, result) formula, with the emphasis on whatever action you took in your job and positive results you achieved.

So, ''Provided well-written, high quality leads to clients and partners becomes, ''Import, sort, and analyse leads in Excel, presenting data in chart format for weekly client and partner reports''. Or whatever you specifically did, slanted to what you want to do now!

And re your skills, dude, telemarketing is brutal. If nothing else you've got stamina and persistence, even if you're ready to quit now. There's also client handling skills, networking, business development, identifying key decision makers, persuading, convincing, some elements of marketing, translating potential into revenue, promotions, public relations, handling conflict and rejection, developing rapport with clients, as well as all the admin stuff you have to do as part of any business role.

And having telemarketed, you're in a great position to canvass employers by cold calling. Yeah, I know you hate it. But unlike most schmucks, you know you actually can do it, despite hating it. So get yourself a list of (for example) temp agencies from the phone book and call 'em. Be the most charming, employable, awesome person you can be on the call. Identify the person who hires for the kind of work you want to do. Send them your resume. Call 'em back if they don't call you. Sell yourself.

Go get 'em tiger!
posted by t0astie at 4:05 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Despite what you say, you have many useful skills. You have an English degree from a good school. You're articulate. Your inside sales experience has been an object lesson in how to be forceful and tenacious in advocating your position, even in the face of glacial indifference or outright hostility. Instead of being forceful in the promotion of shitty products, you need to start using those same skills to promote yourself. Past a certain threshold of basic competency, life and work in our society are fundamentally sales processes, so self-promotion is crucial. If you're good at selling yourself, you can do pretty much anything in the business world that you set your mind to. Many people with less going for them than you have been vastly successful in business.

Your current résumé is really mediocre. What I see when I read it is a lack of confidence in the product you're selling -- i.e., yourself. First and foremost, you must believe, and your résumé must reflect, the notion that you have a lot to offer your potential employer. So, try out a functional résumé as others have suggested. When you discuss your experiences, spin them as positively as possible. Don't present a milquetoast list of your duties. Instead, pick a few things you did at each job that were GREAT (even if they were inconsequential things), and then spin them a little. Spin them so that somebody reading the document will say "Wow." and want to talk to you.

A specific thought about your résumé: I'd suggest omitting your degree from the Community College of Philadelphia. You have a BA from Temple, and since the fact that you did your first two years at a CC doesn't really *add* anything to the overall picture (from a marketing standpoint, anyway), it's probably best to leave it out.

And oh yeah, I imagine you're good at cold-calling? Why not pick an industry you think is cool and start by picking up the phone? That's a low-yield but potentially worthwhile strategy if you really don't know anyone in the biz of interest.
posted by killdevil at 4:05 PM on October 20, 2009

Best answer: Tough love, coming right up. I'm a mid-level administrator w/a nonprofit in Philly. I'm going to tell you what I would mutter to myself if your resume crossed my desk:

Please take your personal website off of your resume. It's not a job. At all. And a very quick and superficial scan of the front page tells me this about you: you noodled around and then abandoned some sort of lit-blogging project and tried to jailbreak your phone. This is not a great first impression, and it's certainly not a professional one.

Your job descriptions could give a much clearer idea of your skills. Tell us what tasks you actually performed at these jobs. When you're got higher-level positions with more authority, you can talk big-picture and about communicating concepts. At your level, I need to know that you can accurately prepare correspondence, follow directions, proofread, keep a calendar, be professional on the phone, show initiative without doing crazy irresponsible shit.

Quantify whenever possible to give me an idea of your workload at your jobs. Be specific. Also, I have absolutely no idea what these two items mean, they read as padding cribbed from a job description.

* Balanced needs of multiple campaigns and clients.
* Performed customer services duties as required.

If you lower your sights to about $28k, you'll have an easier time finding a position. Monster, Idealist , and the Cultural Alliance list a lot of entry-level admin jobs.

That said, it's a tough time right now for hiring, and there's a lot of competition. Don't burn any bridges at your current job in case you've got to stick it out awhile longer.
posted by desuetude at 4:08 PM on October 20, 2009

Response by poster: desuetude Your job descriptions could give a much clearer idea of your skills. Tell us what tasks you actually performed at these jobs.

You know, I don't want to sound rude or unprofessional, but how the heck do you translate "Borderline harass people over the telephone into taking a sales call." into something for a résumé? That's one thing that makes revising this darn résumé such a pain. There's little I do at my job that translates into anything I can quantify or make sound good.
posted by SansPoint at 4:27 PM on October 20, 2009

I have a completely different suggestion, although I'm also prepared for other posters to say "bad idea".

This depends, of course, on your experience. How much technical and business writing experience do you have? Have you written reports or documents for a certain type of company or companies? If so, I am going to suggest running your own freelance writing business.

I've had my own freelance writing business and really enjoy that fact that I don't have to interact with people too much (no going into an office, no chit chat, very little phone time...definitely not calling people and trying to sell them stuff). Also, I've been able to earn a much higher hourly rate than any of my previous jobs...definitely more than the amount you want to earn over the course of a year.

If you do decide to try your own freelance writing business, though, I would suggest creating a cover letter/email and CV that mainly emphasizes those skills, with links to writing samples. Write to several companies and state "I am a freelance business writer" (or technical writer, whatever) -- I did this during month 2 of my business, and I am still getting business from sending out that original batch of emails. Start sending out a lot of emails to companies right now -- I would bet that you can land at least a small assignment before you quit your job.

Good luck.

PS: On preview -- if you create a functional resume (and carefully target that CV to jobs that you want), you can remove certain job skills or things that you don't want to do. It sounds like you really, really hated calling and don't want to do that anymore - that's great - if it were me, I wouldn't even list that on a CV, especially if the goal is not to do it anymore.
posted by Wolfster at 4:34 PM on October 20, 2009

Response by poster: Wolfster: This depends, of course, on your experience. How much technical and business writing experience do you have? Have you written reports or documents for a certain type of company or companies? If so, I am going to suggest running your own freelance writing business.

None, really. I took a course at Temple on it. Got an A, and I still have the paper I wrote for the class as a writing sample.
posted by SansPoint at 4:40 PM on October 20, 2009

Response by poster: *sigh*

I've been looking up how to write a skills-based résumé, and I'm finding about five trillion different ways to do it. If someone has a good example or something, I'd be very grateful.
posted by SansPoint at 5:05 PM on October 20, 2009

I did telemarketing for years -- not cold calling, but still pretty brutal -- and I feel your pain. I still shudder when the phone rings. I ended up managing a small staff, purely by virtue of having been there the longest. It got me off making calls, which was great.

Is there a way to redescribe your telemarketing experience on your resume and pitch it as more customer service-oriented? Maybe you could look at telemarketing manager positions (if you feel you have the skills to manage, that is) if there's something in your field.

Get your resume up on USAJobs as someone else suggested -- I know a couple of people who were contacted for jobs through that site.
posted by vickyverky at 5:11 PM on October 20, 2009

i was going to say the same things as everyone else about your resume. so, that's been covered.

here's the thing, for every four unemployed people in philadelphia, there is one job posting. my partner's unemployed and has been for months. we look at the job sites (plus the more uncommon and niche ones) almost every day. there is almost nothing out there for people like you and her (educated, 3-5 years of experience, which is too much to be "entry level" but is too little to be "real"). all the jobs are either part-time, "internships", require some specialized skill, require 10+ years of experience, or that you simply can't take because it wouldn't pay you enough to live (which i understand is valid, because it's valid to us too).

that said, i think maybe you need to just stick it out for a while. the economy is not recovered, there aren't more jobs on the way, and at least you HAVE a job.

the other option is to start temping. they take almost anyone, and that will at least get you started in office work and give you some office stuff to bulk up your resume.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 5:19 PM on October 20, 2009

OK look, I did this in about 10 minutes while watching Stargate, but here's a skills based version of your current CV. This is NOT A GOOD EXAMPLE of what you should do but is perhaps a helpful example of how to do it.

This is based on your current CV. If you're applying for a largely administrative job, like the VA job posted upthread, you emphasise both a totally different set of skills and different aspects of your past jobs. You might, for example, focus more on data entry, record keeping and organisation, and telephone skills.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:58 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: DarlingBri Oh, the Walnut doesn't use any donor tracking software. I called people and wrote down stuff on tally sheets. Very low-tech operation.

Still, that gives me a better idea how to write one of these things up. Again, there's dozens of sites with different ideas of WTF a skills-based résumé is.
posted by SansPoint at 6:02 PM on October 20, 2009

You're welcome.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:12 PM on October 20, 2009

"Borderline harass people over the telephone into taking a sales call."

No, no! You have ''Demonstrated tenacity and persistence, cold calling over 500 potential clients weekly to identify key decision makers and generate 45 solid leads per fortnight, exceeding your sales target by 15 per cent.'' Or whatever.

It's really tough when you're stuck in the mire of a job you hatehatehatehatehate, but you *have* to identify the positive.

Adopt a brainstorm mentality where nothing is off the table as far as skills you could possibly lay claim to. (You can always go back and make things more realistic, but don't bring the hammer down on anything while you're brainstorming.) Maybe you could try doing it as a theoretical exercise? Pretend you're helping a ''friend'' identify their skills from a telemarketing job? Ask yourself what would your soul-sucking pointy-haired boss* say if he/she were selling the job to a new recruit? Is there any corporate marketing material around the office that you can rework parts of to describe your job?

Or better still, look up lots of telemarketing job descriptions and see what duties they say the job has.

In fact, to get you started, I had a flick through the first five telesales positions advertised where I am, on Seek.com.au. Here is a mish-mash of skills / qualities / duties they ask for. I bet you can take some of these and do the STAR thing with them, slanting it toward whatever jobs you're looking for.

*Growing, maintaining and retaining customer relationships.
*Account management
*After-sales service
*Speaking with existing customers to further explain benefits of the product / assist with product queries.
*Managing and developing sales and customer base within your set territory
*Identifying and maximising sales opportunities
*Utilising sales tools to produce reports and analysis
*Liaising with your team of external sales representatives to deliver and manage customer needs
*Managing and monitoring key accounts to ensure customer expectations and service standards are met
*Ability to identify cross or up-selling opportunities
*Developed negotiation and closing skills
*Excellent communication both written and verbal achieve budgeted revenue targets.
*Enthusiasm, drive, and the desire to succeed
*A bright, outgoing, confident personality
*Excellent communication and people skills
*Ability to achieve targets
*Good organisational & time management skills
*Keen & willing to learn

And while we're at Seek, they have a great example of a skills based resume here. Scroll down - they call it a Functional Resume. Tweak to make it more US-ian obv, but it's a start. There's also good advice on interviews and general career stuff here.

They also have actual examples that you can download pdfs of, but I find them really hard to locate through the site. A quick Google of ''sample resume site:seek.com.au'' found samples for:
Human Resources
Investment Banking

You might not want to work in those fields specifically. But check out the goals and personal qualities sections. Anything you can borrow and rework for yourself? How have they used the STAR formula? Is there something in the way they've set out their duties and achievements that you can adapt to your own resume?

Go for it!

*Actual boss may not be soul-sucking or pointy haired, example only.
posted by t0astie at 6:27 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to echo killdevil's suggestion of leaving the community college associate's degree out. Just put that you did a BA at Temple.
posted by pravit at 8:59 PM on October 20, 2009

One very smart thing to do (and surprising it isn't listed already) is joining in a networking evening of Association of Fundraising Professionals or the Direct Marketing Association in Philadelphia. These are influential job pipelines that work. It bothers me how many people in fundraising eschew professional associations when overall job satisfaction is so low. 95% of fundraising is sales: selling the idea, the people, and the reason for philanthropy. AFP has networking evenings every month.
posted by parmanparman at 6:04 AM on October 21, 2009

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