Job hunt freak out
September 7, 2016 7:30 AM   Subscribe

I've been working in a specialized field and have to find something else (for reasons explained "more inside"). I haven't been able to "turn it off" for months. What next? Are these things I'm thinking about totally crazy?

A couple of years ago I relocated for my spouse's career. I kept my job with a combination of telecommuting and airplane commuting. At the time, it was an easy way to make the transition: my salary continued and they didn't need to hire right away. In retrospect, it's not a great fit for either of us and my contract is set to expire.

Part of the issue is that I'm in a very niche field. They are going to have a hard time finding someone else, and I'm going to have a hard time finding a position. There are exactly two firms in my major US metropolitan area that have ~15 positions that I am fit for. It's not a field where jobs can just appear -- they are budgeted by bureaucracies.

Another part of the issue is that I'm very burnt on the work. It requires creativity, critical thinking, detailed attention to multi-year projects, and sitting and staring at computers constantly. I have healthy outside activities to distract me -- but it's just not cutting it anymore. In fact, I'm having a hard time sitting still long enough to write this question.

I've started applying for jobs in related fields with nary a response. I've written some cover letters where I play up my 'passion' and demonstrate my value -- but, if I'm being perfectly honest, my heart's not really in it. I just need a salary and health insurance. I yearn for a local position where I can show up, do the work, and leave it for the day to start anew the next.

I want to be able to spend more time with my kids - instead of locking the office door or scurrying off to the airport. I want to have a consistent schedule - instead of sprinting for deadlines and cobbling together interminable meetings around varied schedules. AND I want to have steady salary - the thing that I've got that I'm freaking out about losing. I feel selfish for wanting all of these things and silly for not really caring WHAT I do any more.

What am I missing that's making my job search so frustrating?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wanting a job that doesn't take over your life or involve airplane commuting is not crazy at all. The only thing that seems to be missing is acknowledging that switching fields can be difficult and usually involves more networking that sending out resumes to announced positions. Searching for jobs is exhausting and can be much easier if you can take some time off to focus on recovering and then just applying, instead of squeezing it in. (I know people say it is easier to get a job when you have a job but that has not really been my experience — it is pretty field dependent.)

It is hard to give good advice, though, about switching without knowing what fields you are looking in. I realize because it is small, you don't want to tell us, but if you could have a mod post even the adjacent fields you are looking in, people might have a little more advice.
posted by dame at 7:38 AM on September 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I always recommend temp agencies - which aren't just about clerical work - to people looking for jobs, to switch fields, or just to bring in some extra money between jobs. Temp work might allow you to try out different jobs/fields and to gain exposure to positions and companies you might otherwise not have heard of.

It does depend on the city - some smaller cities don't have much in the way of temp work. But it's worth a try.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:55 AM on September 7, 2016

This may be obvious, but in terms of work/life balance you're looking for positions with municipal, state, and federal agencies. Applying to these posts can take a long time -- you apply, take a test, then get put on a list, they call you in the order you ranked, or some variation on this theme. But every agency I've worked for in this space has a very solid 9 to 5 work atmosphere.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:28 AM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not knowing what field you're in, I can't make any useful suggestions about what to try next, but I agree with the above commenter that you might want to try a temp agency. Or if you live near a university, check to see if they have a temp pool, which would let you try out various clerical positions in different departments. Also, my sister in law just switched from teaching to technical writing in order to have a 9 to 5 job that doesn't stress her out.
posted by MsMolly at 8:36 AM on September 7, 2016

I feel selfish for wanting all of these things and silly for not really caring WHAT I do any more.

Nothing wrong with that. Millions, if not billions, of people go to work every day just to get the paycheck, not because they're passionate about their career.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:43 AM on September 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would add school district office / county office of education as an employer to check with as well as the other agencies that "late afternoon dreaming hotel" mentions

Check for current postings of both certificated and non-certificated positions nationwide. There are so many types of jobs, you are bound to find something that fits.
posted by IpsoFacto at 10:14 AM on September 7, 2016

If there are 15 jobs to choose from, it may not be as niche as you think. Are you voluntarily leaving your contract as a result of your feelings or are you saying nothing and hoping they don't offer you anything? It sounds as though you are trying to transition out of being a sales representative or consultant to a niche long-term customer base, I could imagine not more than 15 regular clients. You must be on some kind of inexorable target or even worse a team target.
If you decided to change careers as a way to get off the road, you may discover the jobs you want will expect you to do some level of either business development or consultative services unless you seek out a vastly different experience, such as having a postal route or becoming a hairdresser. Not all roads are equal. The more you are willing to manage people, the more successful you will be in creating your ideal high earning role. You can obviously be part of a team but you need to be looking for any opportunity to manage others and then when you feel you have sufficient experience - my suggestion being that the majority of your hires and inheritance are retained and you have achieved 80% or more of your target for six months and one year.
If you can afford it, taking even a part-time job canvassing supporters on the street for a charity or your kids' schools would be a great way to get the human resource development and management skills that will help the most.
I would be happy to chat with you about positioning yourself to get a worthwhile good-paying fundraising role that would grow into a permanent office-based team management role in three or less years. I went from field officer to commercial director managing six employees in 30 months. YMMV of course!
posted by parmanparman at 10:27 AM on September 7, 2016

« Older How to resolve a harassment case?   |   Does stale bleach smell like bad breath? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.