I pit my busted flush of job skills

A year ago I took a job 1,500 miles away from my wife and kids, with the assumption that they would be joining me this year. Long story short, they’re not. Now I’m desperate to ditch this job and go live with them again. My counselor is encouraging me to go. Hell, Employee Assistance at my job is encouraging me to go, and it’s their job to keep employees, not encourage them to leave. I could throw everything in my apartment into boxes and leave in two weeks, as I have nothing keeping me here.

There’s just one thing stopping me from moving: a job back in the old place. Big problem. See, I work in a pretty small field, and there have been no jobs available, at all, in the 13 months since I left. The closest I’ve seen was one about 200 miles away. Barring a miracle, if I want to move back, I’m going to have to end my career in this field and start a new one. I’m prepared for that. I know I wouldn’t make as much money. I’m prepared to make $20K, $30K, maybe even $40K less to start over.

But I don’t even know if I can do that. Simply put, my job skills are a pile of crap. I have a perfect skill set for the career I’m in–just today a job was posted on my career list that I would walk into (too bad it’s on the other side of the country entirely)–but it’s dire for anything else. Examples:

  1. I know not enough SQL. In other words, enough to understand it, not enough to be a programmer in it. And the SQL I know is not enough to help me in any other job. Nobody wants a manager who knows some SQL, they want a manager full stop. The SQL isn’t even a bonus.

  2. I know VBA for Excel and Access. That qualifies me to be a Microsoft Office monkey of some sort. Honestly I don’t even know who would want that. Actually I should say I did know VBA, before I came here and this job didn’t want it, so my skills eroded. Now it feels like a language I took in high school but never learned well enough to speak.

  3. At my current job I write, I research, and I manage a staff of 5 that also write and research. That qualifies me to do my job here very well…and just about nothing else.

  4. I know some data analysis–but not any more than a freshman stats student. And I know some data visualization techniques–provided you have the software I know and are prepared to put up with me tinkering around for hours trying to get it right. Again, those skills are eroding too because I don’t have the chance to use them here.

What I really want, and what does not seem to exist, is a career coach who will look at the skills I have and say, “Well, you could try a career in X.” Knowing full well X may be nothing, I might add. I’m willing to pay good money for that. The last time I hired a career coach, she suggested that I become a college professor. Yes, I’m five years removed from my graduate degree and 33 years old, I will be right on that.

But I should turn right back to the subject of this pitting. Why did I put myself in this situation? Why did I have to choose a career that taught me skills that only helped myself if I stayed in that (extremely limited) career? Why didn’t I take the MBA degree I could have taken, and instead spending that time teaching myself computer languages that don’t help me now? Most of all, why did I run away instead of standing and fighting at my last job?

Because now I’m growing apart from my wife. Because now my kids are growing up without me. And now I’m becoming a different, angrier, more bitter person. If I don’t go back soon I will reach some point of no return. And I can’t go back, because of the choices I made.

I promise this is not a joke… your skill set sounds like it would be good for a Data Migration Specialist.

It’s a rareish position in software migration projects, as it often falls to a consultant or gets distributed among them, but it does exist. My current team has one and I got a hook for a job (not in the US) just last week.

The DMS:

  1. In collaboration with the consultants and with the managers of the old systems, figures out what data can/needs to be extracted from the old systems, and what needs to be filled in manually.

  2. Gets it extracted; often, this isn’t done by him personally, but by someone else. He still needs to be able to say things in pseudo-SQL.

  3. Gets to deal with conversations like this, without killing anybody:
    Consultant: I need the extracts of the data they have on their current materials; get me a small extract so I can identify the fields, please.
    DMS: transmits it to the extractor
    Extractor: nononononononono! He must give me what fields to extract!
    DMS: everything for now, on say, 50 materials.
    Extractor: nonononononononono! He must give me sample from new program, then I know what fields to extract!
    Consultant: curses less mightily than she’d like to and proceeds to prepare a sample, indicating field technical name, field type and length, field name in humanspeak and several lines worth of samples
    DMS: sends sample to extractor
    Extractor: but… I don’t know what these are…
    DMS: maybe you can extract the whole table?
    Extractor: extracts the whole table
    Consultant: thanks the DMS for his almost infinite patience and proceeds to determine which fields match which, which ones need conversion or revision and which ones aren’t needed

  4. Runs any conversions which can be done mechanically (Excel and Access are your bestest pals ever, here).

  5. Informs, begs, cajoles, and generally shepherds the clients into doing those cleanups which can’t be done mechanically (such as “shortening descriptions”, and does anybody know why so many maintenance managers feel the need to put their machinery’s whole specs in the description?), or taking those decisions needed for mechanical cleanup.

  6. Gets the load programs prepared (personally or by someone else, depending on levels of skill and difficulty)

  7. Runs or supervises the loads

  8. Runs or supervises any extracts needed to verify loads

  9. Informs, begs, cajoles, and generally shepherds the clients into verifying loads

It sounds like you have to go back. You are only 33. Maybe think outside the box. Summer is coming, why not take a season off and learn how to be a framing carpenter or jackhammer operator, or hell, even a barista?

I seem to recall that he’s considerably older than thirty-three, that’s just how old he was when he last consulted a career coach.

OP, if it’s not prying too much, what turned out to be the obstacles to moving your family out to your location?

Doesn’t he have a family to support in the meanwhile?

Young, single, unattached people can do things like that. When you’ve got dependents doing something like that impacts more than just yourself.

The ability to write and research are valuable skills that can transfer. I’m not sure what kind of research you’re doing, but a possibility that jumps out at me from your list is look at any college or university. Almost all will have two areas to check out: institutional research (provides statistical analysis and assessment) and prospect research (in the development/fundraising area). Writing and research skills are a must, and data analysis and visualization could be valuable, as well as knowledge of basic programming structure.

While that’s true, a tough year or two is worth it to be with your family.

If you can’t be with your family it isn’t worth a billion dollars a year.

15 years down the road you can look back and laugh at when you and your wife had to work shitty jobs and scrape by for a bit while you developed a new career. You will not, however, look back and laugh at the time you got divorced and alienated your children to keep a career.

False. Managing people is managing people. If you do it well, it’s a skill that should not be overlooked. I successfully parlayed my military experience of managing people into the corporate world, even though managing people in the military is nothing like managing civilians.

What location is the rest of your family at?

You have plenty of skills to do a lot of things. Don’t sell yourself short.

Management experience is huge. You can walk in and be a manager in a lot of IT shops while having only a passing knowledge of the skills your people would be using. (HR: “Well we want a manager who is expert at SQL!” You: “Will the manager be coding, or supervising people who code?”)

In a lot of places, experience in IT counts a lot more than specific experience. Of course, those are hard to find as HR people tend to be morons.

First, I’m sorry you’re in such a bad situation right now.

You might fit with “ETL” jobs - that Extract, Transform, and Load data from one system to another. Used a lot in middleware, big data, new systems. Wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extract,_transform,_load With data and management experience you should be able to run such a team, even while not 100% up on the details.

If you are interested in IT security getting a certification may be a quicker path to employ-ability. I’m in the field, but not a hiring manager so I don’t know what the job market is actually like. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

Like another poster said, managing people is managing people. If you have ‘manager’ in your title, that goes a bit farther on your resume than other things.

But I am confused. You have a good job but the family will not come to you? There is a decent shot of a job 200 miles from where the family is now? But you cannot go there?

Am I the only one thinking that the family is not as accommodating as the they should be in this situation?

There could be some facts about the situation we are unaware of that makes moving the family a larger problem than usual.

I assume your wife has an occupation with more opportunities, why don’t they move closer?

This and what Nava describes are very similar to what my wife used to do. She was an analyst for an HR outsourcing company, and much of her job was taking employer’s data sets and making them play nice with health insurance companies’ database formats. She knows enough SQL to modify other people’s code but not enough to write her own.

She’s a project manager now for the same company but the job she did still exists.

Cogno - don’t pound on yourself (sorry - pitting not endorsed - you took a chance, it didn’t work out, move on!)

Move home -

Options - get that MBA - it’s not too late. I supported my husband getting his PhD in his late thirties. He got a mix of loans and other funding. Things were tight, but it was worth it in the end. There are also programs targeted at people who have gone into the working world, and want to either take classes while working or who are “re-entry”.

Jobs: ETL, as above. Almost any IT/SW/Data company needing management would be interested. Look for career counseling help. Also Resume help to tailor your experience to a few of these industries in these areas. But management experience is management experience.

Pack up - take the cat - go home. You’ve earned it! :slight_smile:

Have you considered insurance? No one really goes to school for an insurance job except actuaries, so most people in the industry come from positions in completely different industries and it is simple enough to start at the bottom and then move your way up if you are halfway decent once hired, so even if you started in a call center or sales position you could be 2 years away from being management again.

This pitting sucks! Nobody wants to pile on **Cognoscant **or his job skills! Everyone has a lot of great advice to give!

That’s the only pit-worthy thing I can think of to say about this pit.

Yah well if he doesn’t want to be single an unattached it sounds like he’d better go back to his family. Under the circumstances, starting something new ought to at least be considered.

Thanks to everyone who responded. Sorry I didn’t come back earlier, I had to work late last night (not complaining, just something that happens) and I had a migraine today so I ended up sleeping a lot.

As to why my family doesn’t move down here: I think it boils down to the fact that one person who isn’t happy where he is can’t convince three people who are happy where they are to come join him. My wife’s job is going well, and my kids realize that they do actually like where they are, more than they expected. There’s no guarantee my wife could get a job she liked or my kids could find a school and friends that they enjoy. Meanwhile I am not really enjoying my time here and my job is not going great. I don’t want to go into too much detail on that last point; I think I’m doing OK but I have not really fit into the culture so well. I don’t think it’s anything bad on either me or the office, just sometimes things don’t work out.

I will look into the job suggestions. I had heard of ETL jobs but I wasn’t sure whether I would be a good fit for them. This week I am going to talk to a career counselor I had worked with before who can find me some IT headhunters. That will be a good start. Plus there is one job that I may be able to do that I will be applying for. It’s not that close to where my folks live but the commute is doable for a while.

I wish I was 33! I was that old the last time I talked to that career coach. I am in my forties now. That really cuts out any manual labor jobs as I’m not just getting weaker, I am mechanically inept to boot. I do want to get an MBA eventually too. I think I can do one in quantitative analysis, which I have done from time to time in my career. I took the hardest course first when I started my MBA, and I have taken leadership courses elsewhere, so a lot of it should be revision for me.

I guess the good thing is that I do have some time on my side. I’m not going to be fired tomorrow and if all else fails there are periodically jobs in my field in other, closer cities and I can try moving there next to re-roll the dice.

RickJay is right that nothing can replace being with my family. I have missed birthdays and an anniversary and those things have been very hard. Plus I miss my house and not having to live in a noisy apartment building. I miss not having anything to come back to in the evening (other than my cat but my cat is not great at conversation). It feels like it’s time to make a change in my life, yes.