Get my career from where it was to... Somewhere?
August 15, 2021 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm running out of drive for finding a job. I think what I want is a combination mentor / therapist / guidance counselor, who can help me make realistic decisions about what jobs to pursue, identify steps I need to take to develop my skills, help me stay accountable to completing those steps, and stick with me through my career to help me grow my career and not get stuck again.

Every job posting I see online either intimidates me or bores me. I want to make use of the skills I've gained, but I'm also so discouraged by past failures that I feel like abandoning them. The companies I dream of working for post jobs with requirements I don't meet, and are located far away.

I've tried attending conferences, taking online classes, and following ats/resume/cover letter guides, but it's not worked out yet.

I feel like I'm out of my depth. I'm very smart, hard working, and am told I impress people when I network with them. But I'm not finding jobs to apply to, and when I do I'm not getting call backs. I have a dismal sense of hope, and am desperate for a helping hand.

My background is in corporate process improvement, HR project management, planning and running workshops, and strategy. I would love to work in a field that makes the world a better place, like urban planning, renewable energy, and alternative transportation.

But maybe I need someone to tell me "you're basically never going to do better than data entry,so just learn to live with it."
posted by rebent to Work & Money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I think you just need an accountability coach/partner and just apply to both categories of jobs at a set rate (5 a day Monday-Thursday or similar.) You can suss everything else out at the interview stage.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:35 AM on August 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I think you need a professional coach of some sort. I have a friend who does that sort of thing, and she seems relatively popular, but I'm sure there are a lot out there who people you know can point you to.
posted by xingcat at 8:43 AM on August 15, 2021

I have not been impressed at all with career coaching/counseling if you need some vague (NOT specific) help, and it didn't do anything for me at all and I'm still stuck. I've done a lot of the stuff you mentioned: took classes, talked to counselors, read books, and I still have NO interest in the jobs out there and I don't seem to qualify for them anyway. (To be fair, I have zero interest in any particular fields/jobs and I just want a day job I don't hate and has reasonable pay and health insurance. This has, frankly, been too much to ask of the universe to provide.) The whole industry is well meaning, but I just don't think they're equipped to really solve the issues when it comes down to things like "I don't qualify for what I want to do" and "I can't get a second interview."

Now maybe there's some miracle one out there I haven't found yet, but career counseling has kind of gone like this:
Them: Make a list of your values! What are your values? You should look for a job that fits your values!
Me: what if my values are conflicting, like I want a job with reasonable pay and health insurance, but my interests/skills don't match jobs that offer those things?
Them: uh, do what you want as a volunteer job, accept that what you love won't be your career. Good luck with that.

If you want a career counselor to help you go over your resume and cover letter, that can work GREAT. If you have very specific goals already, they may be able to do better with you. But if you're all "I dunno, I don't like my job but I can't get interviews in any other field, is there anything else out there for me?" I have gotten jack shitola from career counselors on that. YOU know what your interests and skills are. You know more about this than a random stranger does. Unless you can find some experts to talk to about urban planning, which would probably help more, I suspect paying someone to hold your hand is kind of a waste of money.

I read those "Designing Your Life" books and they sound great, but re-designing your work life requires others to be supporting you in those desires to some degree, and if your work isn't interested in changing things to fit you, then point here.

Realistically speaking, if you have some ideas as to what you want to do, you don't need to pay another human to tell you what to do. You want to do urban planning? Research the field. See what the job prospects are like. Are there reasonable prospects or is that a dying field or one that doesn't hire too many people? You don't have qualifications to do it? What schooling/training do you need to get those qualifications, and go look into doing that. Can you look into getting the qualifications for the places you want to work for within the next few years, and are you willing to move far away X number of years from now? Unless you know someone who is an expert in your desired fields (that might be the best help of all) you can do your own research without paying a stranger to do it for you. If you absolutely won't do anything without someone holding your hand (i.e. you're an Obliger), then find a friend in a similar situation to be your buddy.

I can't speak for your field and/or how Covid may be changing the industry, but my industry is very specific about not wanting to train people and wanting to hire people who already do all of the job. "Transferable skills" has not really been a thing. I would presume your issue is that you're trying to jump fields and the fields you want to get into may want more experience out of you than you have. I've been ruled out for small stuff like "doesn't work ENOUGH with X Population directly." If you want to jump fields and you know specifically what, you need to acquire those skills/education at the very least.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:34 AM on August 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

When I was unemployed for 9 months, I felt the same way you did for 8.9 of those months. No jobs that fit my qualifications or interests. It's really hard to take to heart that a professional job search should take 1 month for each $10k your salary is. But it's real. It's not like there were a lot of prospects along the way and I kept applying and being turned down - it's just that sales jobs have about an annual turnaround. If I didn't get this one I could have been unemployed two years.

You'll know the job that shows up that fits both your qualifications when it comes. I'd just keep your list of companies you would be willing to work at, and list of companies you'd be excited to work at, and check their job boards at least weekly. Don't apply to jobs that you wouldn't happily accept!
posted by bbqturtle at 10:51 AM on August 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

>I impress people when I network with them

You need to talk to this network and ask them for advice.

Say what you told us: "My background is in corporate process improvement, HR project management, planning and running workshops, and strategy. I would love to work in a field that makes the world a better place, like urban planning, renewable energy, and alternative transportation."

Now figure out who to talk to. Do you have friends who know people that might be willing to talk to? Have you kept in touch with anyone at these conferences, online classes, etc.? Maybe you can find people on LinkedIn who 1) work for the companies you want to work for and 2) do the work that you want to be doing (that maybe work in other companies) and ask them for a 20 min coffee interview?
posted by foxjacket at 2:14 PM on August 15, 2021

Most people try to get jobs by applying. Most companies look to hire people through referrals. Double down on your networking and I bet your success rate will go up. It’s very hard to pick someone out of a pile of resumes. I’ll always give special consideration to people recommended by someone I’ve worked with before.
posted by missjenny at 4:19 PM on August 15, 2021

I’d also suggest heading over to Ask A Manager. It’s broadly an advice site, and you can email your question in, but there are also discussion posts which are very really positive and supportive. Good news posts on Fridays where there are stories of overcoming career difficulties - it’s generally an encouraging environment.
posted by ElasticParrot at 3:03 AM on August 16, 2021

I'd be happy to help you with this, rebent. I've sent you a MeMail.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:52 AM on August 16, 2021

As someone who is lucky to know you both online and in person, I can attest to how amazing you are — and I’m not just saying it. Location can mean fewer options, I know, but please apply to those jobs that seem intimidating because, while not every one of they may be a good fit, all of them would be lucky to have you because you are so smart, kind, hardworking & open to growth. I really mean this!! I think networking & a career coach would be perfect, be it one near or far, and I’d also recommend building up a web presence that reflects what a Renaissance person you are!
posted by smorgasbord at 2:56 PM on August 16, 2021

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