Career advice for mid-career professionals
January 26, 2019 5:48 PM   Subscribe

How can I find someone who can help me understand my options, and perhaps spiff up my resume? Who might that person be?

While I am in no particular rush to leave my job, I've been thinking about exploring options for my career in recent months and I feel that there are options I don't know about and things I don't know how to do, despite being a mid-career professional. How can I find someone that I could talk to who could help me answer some questions, and perhaps offer some advice on my resume/LinkedIn? Who could such a person be?

My main interest would be in figuring out what I could do with my skills, interests and background, and how to position myself to potentially do those things. As I've said, I'm not really looking to leave my job right now, but I am quite afraid of what would happen to me were I to be laid off or were my job to become intolerable for Reasons. So I would like to develop a good sense of the options that would be available to me beyond my current position. I am willing to pay a modest fee for this service.

Can anyone recommend how to go about finding someone to talk to? Recruiters have crossed my mind, but I don't really know any and my sense is that they wouldn't be all that helpful for this. Would a career counselor be helpful? Is there anything else? Most important, how do I go about finding these people?

I am also open to other suggestions that go beyond just browsing LinkedIn or working contacts that I, mostly, don't have (more on that below).

A bit about me, if it helps:

My job is in a niche-y corner of business journalism, but I would like to explore options outside of journalism, although I have little interest in public relations. I'm in NYC.

I'm good at writing, processing information, and research. I learn quickly, and I like to learn new things. I'm not so good at gossiping and schmoozing with people, although I do have decent interviewing skills. I have a bachelor's in political science, but have been out of college for long enough by now that I doubt this will be of much importance. I'm pretty good at working with data, and I like it, but I'm hardly an Excel wizard nor do I have any background in math or statistics. I have experience with audio (hosting podcasts and webcasts), and a little experience with video. I have very little design sense.

I sort of have contacts, but do not know what do with them regarding this, if anything at all. Basically, there are many people that I work with though my job who know me on a professional level, but without being personal friends in any manner. One thing I've wondered about is how to leverage those contacts, considering that they are not exactly people that I am likely to socialize with. Any advice on this particular matter would be appreciated.

I strongly suspect that my LinkedIn profile and resume could use some work.
posted by breakin' the law to Work & Money (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don’t really know either, but my college offers career advice services to alumni. Also, industry conferences sometimes have resume review services.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:42 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Could you go to the CAR conference and join IRE? That would give you a lot of bang for your buck, I think.

If you like working with data and are good at it, then work at becoming an Excel wizard, using Tableau, and maybe Strata or R. Stuff you can learn at CAR is useful in fields other than journalism.

Have you thought about informatics?
posted by jgirl at 6:44 PM on January 26

I’m not familiar with your field, but in the past I’ve used my professional associations (e.g. “Society of X”) to find contacts for career advice.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 7:01 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

New York Public Library has free career coaching , you just have to have a library card. I did it a couple of years ago and it was super helpful. That particular branch offers other career services, though I haven’t taken part in those. They’ll help jazz up your resume, talk about cover letters, good LinkedIn searches, career changes, and other stuff.
posted by loriginedumonde at 7:16 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

You can also schedule on Saturdays!
posted by loriginedumonde at 8:10 PM on January 26

There’s a group on Facebook called “what’s your plan b?” for journalists contemplating career changes that may be helpful for you.
posted by melodykramer at 11:05 PM on January 26

As you’ve identified, public relations is an obvious choice for you. Other things you might want to consider are think tanks, public affairs/lobbyist, . And the reason for suggesting a few random job ideas are that can use your contact list to set up ‘informational interviews’ with people who have jobs you might want to explore. Lots of people would be willing to have coffee with you and tell you what it’s like to work in X.
posted by plonkee at 1:34 AM on January 27

I haven't used a career counselor, but I have the same job as you do, and just wanted to offer a couple of thoughts on options beyond PR. Someone recently recruited me for a "content director" role at a tech accelerator. It made me look around at other content manager/director roles, and I saw a lot of interesting positions. More general comms jobs might be interesting, and there are options that specifically exclude PR from the role, so you'd just focus on writing and editing material about a company or nonprofit. A lot of companies now hire "UX writers" (essentially user-focused copywriting, as far as I understand it) and like to hire former journalists. It's probably worth doing a little research on what it might take to switch to data science as well.
posted by pinochiette at 7:03 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]

Thanks all!

pinochiette: The stuff you mention is actually sort of what I have in mind! Things that are heavy on research/writing/editing/analysis, but not "I am going to pitch journalists stories about this company I work for," because, frankly, I would hate that. I do sometimes see those sorts of jobs advertised on LinkedIn, etc. Do you happen to have any advice on how to search for jobs like those, and/or how to find people who can help me answer questions around transitioning into something like that?
posted by breakin' the law at 4:02 PM on January 27

So you're asking about how to find a career counselor (or coach).

I'm a career counselor. I have a mental health counseling graduate degree and additional specific training in career. People find me through Google, through referrals from other professionals, and occasionally through Psychology Today. Though be careful with Psych Today because so many providers click "Career" as as a competency, but don't necessarily specialize in it.

I help folks with exactly what you're describing. We generally do some assessments, which can help open up your awareness and imagination around other potential occupations. Then we narrow those to 2-3 options, explore those options with info interviews, networking, events, financial modeling, etc, and then help market/promote in the target field(s) of interest. So that means LinkedIn, resumes, cover letters, making introductions, interviewing technique, salary negotiations, and more. We'll often sit side-by-side and write/edit together; it makes the process way less daunting.
posted by MonsieurBon at 7:38 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

A lot of what you describe in your skills/interests seems like it would line up with user research: interview skills, A/V capable, interest in people and what they do, plus good communication. I'm in tech and people hire for the "User Research" or "UX Research" title regularly in this industry, sometimes on a contract basis but often full-time.

I think going to a career counselor is a great idea in any case, to +1 what others have suggested. If you're curious about user research try searching for that title on any job board and see if the jobs that come up sound interesting to you.
posted by saramour at 9:16 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]

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