Need some career advice

Here’s the situation:

I’m a very well-educated older (40+) woman with a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. I also have a rather spotty work history over the past ten years due to my being a professional student, working in the financial services industry immediately prior to the crash of 2008 (short-term), and working in various temp positions for the Census in 2010 (short-term and temporary). Right now, I work for a state agency in a less-than-ideal situation, where my shift is noon to 9 p.m., I don’t get benefits due to my job classification, and where I have a considerable wait for either day shift or benefits due to the union contract. (It’s complicated.)

But here’s the problem. I’m too educated to be considered for most entry-level positions, and recruiters have told me that to my face. I also don’t have the experience to get into anything higher, such as a professional-level job (any internships in my field are long since behind me and the contacts I’ve made there have long since left). I’m OK with the job I’ve got now, but my and my family’s needs are such that I’m not sure how much longer the status quo can continue.

So what’s a girl to do?

What skills and experience do you have?

Two of my degrees (BA and MS) are in communication and journalism, and I have a portfolio of my professional and academic writing. My other degree is in teaching although I don’t have a certificate. (That doesn’t matter, as there are few to no teaching jobs to be had.)

Right now, I’m working in the student loan industry as a collection agent in a call center, and my previous Census experience is in customer service, as well. At my last performance review, my numbers were at or above target, which is unusual for someone with as little time on the job as I have. I also work very well with borrowers and have received compliments about my customer service.

I have a pretty solid work ethic and I have strong office tech and multitasking skills. I’m also willing to take on additional tasks in addition to my actual job.

Have you looked into technical writing? I don’t think you’d be considered grossly over-educated for that sort of job.

I have, but in my area, you have to network into those jobs. My work schedule isn’t conducive to networking because those events seem to be held in the evenings, when I work.

I’m the absolute last person to be giving out career advice, but I would stick with what you have and be thankful for it. You will get promoted eventually.

It sounds to me like you are neglecting a lot of possibilities because they are super long-shots, but the fact of the matter is, it’s going to be one of these super long-shots that pay off. That’s just how it is. The good news is, where the chances of getting any one tech writing job, any one teaching position, any one HR job, one communications director job may seem slim, the chances of one of those long-shots paying off at some point over the next couple years is really pretty good.

Also, and I mean this, don’t trust other’s reports of a job market. Just because someone else can’t find a job in a particular field doesn’t mean there are no jobs, and just because there are reports of 100 resumes for a single position doesn’t mean that 99 (or all 100) of them aren’t crap.

I am compelled to chime in as someone who is on a hiring committee for a position that got 153 applicants and is (at this very moment!) procrastinating on putting the final scores together, only 19 of them were total crap and about 30 were stand-outs, leaving around 100 average joes. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s a tip I can tell you from this experience: don’t apply for jobs in sectors in which you have no experience, unless your skills are directly transferable.

You have a teaching degree and customer service experience – are there colleges/universities around you hiring people in their administrative offices? Are there online teaching opportunities, educational consultants, full-time tutoring companies, etc. – basically opportunities to use your teaching skills in non-classroom settings?

Have you considered simply leaving out part of your education on your resume?

I was just going to say this too. But I don’t know how much research employers do. Who would suspect people leaving education off their resume, but then again, I bet many have done it because they were in your boat.

No benefits, but there are lots of jobs out there writing on-line content. My wife does medical writing, but with a journalism background there is probably lots you can do also. They require clips, and sometimes have you do a sample, but a lot is for fairly big companies.

That could give you enough clips for a regular job.
The stuff they are looking for is reliability, good writing and reliability. It can also be done in your spare time, just don’t take on too much.

While the great American novel or great American history book is a bit hard to pull off, there are lots of book packagers out there selling series for kids. They don’t pay a ton, but your name is on them and this can be leveraged. You need clips for these.

Or, rather than leaving it off, perhaps de-emhasizing your degrees by putting them on the bottom of the resume. Perhaps a skills-based resume style would be better than a chronological one - emhpasize your skills, your capabilities and accomplishments.

If you can quantify these things in terms of savings or efficiency, or as you say - “high marks for quality, effectiveness, and building trust with clients”, then those things should be near the top of your resume. Also, consider hiring a professional resume expert.

Have you considered relocating? I know moving is a huge deal (and expensive to boot!) but it might really be worth considering.

If moving doesn’t work for you then at least you are in a really great position for job searching. Working from 12-9 means you have mornings open for interviews!

I would suggest looking into the non-profit world.

“Eventually” isn’t giving me work-life balance or an insurance card, the lack of both of which are why I want to find a better job.

I have considered this and have left my community college and technical school off my resume. That being said, many employers use a service called the National Student Clearinghouse to verify education and all three of my degrees are listed. (I looked.) If they use the NSC, I’m screwed on a background check.

My resume is already set up this way. I have had several experts look over it and they’ve all assured me it’s a good one. But it’s not getting me any job offers. :frowning:

As much as I’d love to move, Airman doesn’t. (We’ve discussed it at length.) But you do have a point about the schedule being conducive to interviewing and job searching.

I have looked into it and have sent some resumes in. But the people I know who are already in that sector have suggested volunteer work as a foot in the door, especially for the higher-level positions, and I can’t do that due to my work schedule because most of the organizations I’m most interested in need volunteers after working hours or don’t have anything before 10 or 11.

I can’t over-emphasize just how difficult this schedule is. I’ve likened it to sleeping with a big dog. I’ve got three inches of bed space in which to arrange family and personal activities. I know I sound like a wet blanket but the tools that would be most effective at finding a job that is above entry level in a field I’m qualified for are not available to me. I’ve been invited to join a tech networking group for the sole purpose of networking my way into a job, but they meet in the evenings and can’t get enough people interested in a morning meeting because it clashes with their schedule. I’ve looked into community college classes to get some more advanced skills, but they meet after normal working hours. And so forth. And I know that the Obamacare exchanges open October 1, so that would solve the insurance problem.

Insurance aside–and that’s just a mess–you might crunch the numbers on giving up the idea of “having a job” and embracing “ways to make money”. Some combination of teaching as an adjunct at junior colleges + private SAT/ACT tutoring + freelance writing + substiture teaching might be profitable. It really depends on how much you are making now, and how much you hate your current job vs how much you would hate the hassle of having to constantly be in a state of flux and always looking for work. It would, however, increase the odds that one of those things would grow into something more substantial. All have opportunities to turn into something.

Another thing to add to that list would be private college counseling: helping kids with applications and essays and FASFA and financial aid and finding the right schools. This is a huge growth field.

You don’t have to list all your qualifications in every CV you send. Mine doesn’t list my two Masters and the Graduate Diploma, since they’re irrelevant to my current field of work (all people want to know is that I have a college degree). The one that landed me a job in what still remains my favorite employer, the job which eventually led to my current one, didn’t list the Master I had back then: if it had, the hiring manager wouldn’t have hired me. He almost didn’t because my undergrad was slightly “higher” than his (mine required a research project, his didn’t).

ETA: the NSC thing blows, but… if you’d only listed the Bachelors and they found out you had extra, unless they just dump you you can say “well yeah but this job doesn’t require all those frills and therefore I don’t expect to get paid for them, I left them out because they’re irrelevant in this case”. It’s very different from finding out someone does not have a diploma they claimed.

MsRobyn, what would you LIKE to do? I mean, in the ideal, money-is-no-object world, what would you really LIKE to do?

You spent a lot of time in school, hopefully because you were really interested in those subjects and felt you had an affinity for them. And that’s awesome. So, if you had a choice, what would you like to do? What would make you excited to do every day? What would make you leap out of bed most days and think, “Oh, YEAH! I get to go to work today!”

Why don’t you try project management? It’s general enough to apply to any industry and yet specific enough that companies actively hire for it. You probably won’t qualify for a PMP certification since it doesn’t sound like you have enough experience, but there is like a jr PMP in training.

Since you have a sort of atypical resume, headhunters will be of limited use. They are mostly looking to place people who have 5-10 years of whatever it is their client is specifically looking for.

Networking through LinkedIn or personal contacts is probably your best bet. Those networking groups after work are of limited use IMHO, unless you are going to something very industry specific. They tend to be populated with salespeople, headhunters and other people looking to sell stuff. No one goes to a networking event saying “I hope I find some potential hires or a new software vendor or real estate/insurance agent.”

“I’m sorry. We are going to have to revoke your offer since you neglected to include your 2 masters on your resume.”
-No HR department ever.
Seriously. People on this board act like companies will hire a team of private investigators to look into every aspect of your background and then fire you on the spot for any discrepancy or omission. Mostly they will just check that you have the degrees you claim and that you actually worked where you say you worked over the past 5 years.


Drop me a line. My firm is hiring both support and lead staff in PA and I can talk to you about it.