Career advice for a jack of all trades?
April 16, 2015 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of my current job and I'm ready to move on. However, my job search is not going well because, although I have some qualifications for a number of fields, I've never worked for very long in any one field, so I basically lack sufficient experience for any of the positions I'm looking at. On top of which, I've never been able to muster enough interest or passion in any of the careers I've passed through to focus on one of them.

Ideally, I'd love a job that suited my dilettante-ish style, and required some familiarity with a broad range of subjects. The areas I'm strongest in include writing, building websites, graphic design, computer tech, and customer service/tech support. Is there any career that might encompass these skills, but that don't require heavy specialization in any one of them in order for me to be qualified?
posted by Enemy of Joy to Work & Money (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into working at a digital agency? It's not all ad guys trying to sell widgets, they're doing full-service brand/web launches that can use all-rounders for mid-level guys, though you'd have to specialize eventually to move up in any direction.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:04 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have nothing to add other than the fact that I could have written this.

I have almost the exact same range of experiences under my belt (plus or minus a couple), and I'm also looking for a change. My best luck so far has been trying to use old fashioned networking to find something new. That said, it hasn't worked so far.

My past two jobs have been with small outfits where my skill set has been incredibly useful (I feel like this sort of role becomes less common in large organizations). In my search thus far, I've had trouble looking for posted positions because nobody really advertises for the office jack-of-all-trades (master of none). I have felt like relying on people that know my work and how I would fit into their office may be my best bet. It's slow going though.
posted by Mr. Science at 3:12 PM on April 16, 2015

Yeah, the job I'm at now is at a small (14 person) company, and I initially thought it would be a good place for me for that reason. Unfortunately, they have zero interest in taking advantage of my skills outside of the position. Maybe I need to find another small company that does need what I have to offer.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 3:32 PM on April 16, 2015

Business analyst for a web development shop? You are kind of like the middleman between the client who wants a website and the project team who organizes the developers and builds it. Your job is to tell when a feature is hard vs. easy to implement, say when something is way out of scope for the contracted number of hours, bring up any unforeseen dependencies (like if feature A is incompatible with feature B or depends on feature C which is isn't in the budget yet), and do general research about related technologies. A friend of mine found such a job by searching for "exciting" and "analyst" together in postings on
posted by danceswithlight at 4:30 PM on April 16, 2015

Similarly, product manager for a small tech company.
posted by capricorn at 7:03 PM on April 16, 2015

Maybe look at instructional design, particularly e-learning, given your website/graphic design/general tech skills. Your set of strong skills basically describes what an e-learning developer needs, when partnered with some knowledge of instructional design. I did this for a large, state-owned academic medical center, and then moved up to supervise others doing this work. Even though we were part of a large organization, we were a small shop, and we used everyone's skills as much as possible.

Day to day, the job involves building online courses. You meet with the people who know stuff, help them structure what they know into a framework that will allow others to learn it, and then build a course (on a web technology platform) to teach others the information. It gets launched, and you move on to the next project. The skills in use are diverse, but consistent, and I think it is good for someone with a dilettante's personality as the projects can be widely variable.
posted by jeoc at 7:04 PM on April 16, 2015

Business analyst seems to be a good suggestion. Or perhaps product marketer. Product manager is definitely in another league. You have to be very knowledgeable about your technology, your users, your engineering team, and company politics, and be a lion tamer. Product managers are a breed all of their own, and are not exactly "jack of all trades."
posted by Nevin at 8:48 PM on April 16, 2015

You sound like the entire communications staff of any small-budget nonprofit. Most of them don't have the budget to hire for multiple roles so they love jack/jill-of-all-trades types. Of course, they don't pay what you'll find in for-profit, but if that isn't as much of a consideration for you then maybe it's the route for you.
posted by deliciae at 11:45 PM on April 16, 2015

I do almost all of the things you listed as a technical writer at a small software company (the "small" part is key, in my experience). If you're interested in technology and you can write in a clear, concise way, then tech writing might be an option for you. Being able to create basic websites and graphics are big pluses. I think tech support experience is also a plus because writers often work with support personnel to answer tickets and/or to improve documentation.

There have been a number of AskMeFi questions about how to get started in tech writing, so if you browse through those, you may find some information that interests you.
posted by neushoorn at 12:10 AM on April 17, 2015

Your skill set would be in high demand at a forward-looking public library that serves a good-sized population. You wouldn't have to go to school for library science, but you would need to be willing to work for a low salary relative to what your skills fetch in the private sector. But the environment, people, and feeling-of-value-to-society are great. MeMail me if you want some specifics.
posted by Rykey at 4:40 AM on April 17, 2015

Barbara Sher wrote a book of career advice for people like you called "Refuse to Choose"
posted by metahawk at 10:54 PM on April 17, 2015

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