Hedging my bets and pulling my weight.
January 15, 2014 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Moving to a new city later this year, but the new higher cost of living means I will have to be employed again. What skills should I be focusing on and polishing up in the meantime? Special former employment snowflakes inside.

For the past five years, I've been living in Quebec (not Montreal) and my main employment focus has been my very small vegan baking business. But the reason I've been able to slog along and make a small amount of money doing this is because my husband has a really good job, we have no debt, and the cost of living here is low. Basically, he's had the patience of a saint while I've tried to figure what the hell I want to do with my life.

Well, we're moving to Toronto in late autumn and while his salary is due for a bump because of the higher expenses of living in Canada's largest city, there will be a whole new slate of costs that will require two incomes instead of one. But I haven't had a job in so long that I am not sure how to get back into the workforce. And no, I don't have a college degree of any kind. But here's the skills what I got:

For most of my 20s, I did admin work because it paid better, but my admin skills are probably really rusty. If I decide to go that route again, what programs should I learn and brush up on?

From age 25 on until I moved here at age 33, I was a barista/coffee shop manager. And while a job like that might not be hard to get, the incompatible hours make this a difficult choice. Are there any skills for working towards retail management?

I'm looking at wanting to take online courses via Coursera (or if you have any other free or moderately priced online courses to suggest) but am unsure what options to take. I'd ideally like to find a job in TO that involves my passions: animal rights, vegan food, and environmental causes. But I am also realistic about my choices.

So how do I get back in the job market qualified and swinging, Hivemind?

(note: I do want to keep on plugging away at my dream of owning my own vegan bake shop, but I know that the market in TO may be saturated.)
posted by Kitteh to Work & Money (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend two things:

1. Get updated on Microsoft Office 2007/2010 applications, ESPECIALLY Excel. Learn Excel like it's your hope of heaven. Do array formulas like Match and VLOOKUP, learn pivot tables, learn POWERPIVOT!

2. Become a Salesforce.com Administrator. It's the fastest growing CRM and it's super easy and intuitive to use.

Now, go on LinkedIn and search jobs in Toronto using key words Excel and/or Salesforce.com. Having these skills will allow you to command lots more money than a regular admin and they are interesting enough to offer you a pretty cool career path.

With money, you can bake to support your causes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:45 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not sure if it holds any interest for you, or if you are into freelancing at all, but it seems like knowing some basic coding (Java for example) or HTML/CSS really give one an edge for getting the slightly more interesting gigs. I've noticed a lot of neat positions for specialty groups that require you to write content for their websites and update them or to do social media stuff or design customer emails.

There's lots of resources out there for how to teach yourself to code, including on Coursera.
posted by forkisbetter at 11:44 AM on January 15, 2014

FWIW, you did not slog along operating a tiny vegan baking business. You successfully operated a vegan bakery. Don't lie about the numbers if asked in an interview, but I think from a perception standpoint you need to be proud of surviving 5 years as a small business owner. That is a trait that will be very interesting to a lot of potential employers.
posted by COD at 12:17 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

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