It’s been about three months since I started this blog, so I thought a recap of my job search experience might be in order. However, if you’re bored by my subject matter, in honor of the A to Z challenge, I just found a new R word, Ranarium, which means a place where frogs are kept. I’m not entirely sure why, but I have a vision of discovering a mystical underworld deep in the forest somewhere where the frogs are kept. Kept by whom, you might ask? That’s up to you to figure out, as I’m going to return to my dull narrative about my job search, a process during which no frogs have been harmed.
Going back to how I got in this mess: for the last six years I’ve balanced my time between part-time work (when I could find it), volunteering, and family responsibilities. I stepped away from the full-time corporate world when it became untenable due to my husband’s work and travel schedule, a long commute, and our older daughter entering elementary school, which is not at all as working-parent-friendly as the world of daycare.
My husband lost his well-paid job last year after a 19-year tenure, which was the kick in the pants I frankly needed to get back into the world of jobs that actually pay money. Although he found another job, which he loves, the pay is much lower. So, once he was settled and we knew we wouldn’t have to move, it became my turn to look. Last fall I was verbally offered a position, then told it was on hold due to a hiring freeze until the beginning of the year, only to learn in December that a new person was in charge and that they wouldn’t be hiring me after all. Lesson #1 learned: never believe you have a job until you actually have it in writing. I should have known better, but I didn’t look very hard for another job during the fall.
Come January, I started really looking for a job, and began this blog as a way to make myself more accountable and to help process my thoughts. I started networking extensively, and exploring three different possible career paths: jobs similar to my previous work in financial services marketing/product management, non-profit positions that might utilize my skills, and project management, since I’d worked on a number of product launch teams and platform migrations. Here’s what I’ve discovered along those three paths:
Marketing Product Management: I got to the third round of interviews for two different positions (both in financial services), but did not get either of the jobs. (Technically, one has left me hanging, but I’m assuming they are not interested at this point.) I have another phone screen coming up, but am not holding my breath, as I’m not sure this position is a good fit. My sense is that there are many people competing for relatively few related marketing positions, so if I’m not a perfect fit, or they are concerned about my resume gap, it may be difficult to get a job in this area. I’ll still continue to apply for positions for which I seem to be very well qualified, though.
Non-Profit Management: I have met lots of interesting people, and have found some organizations I like well enough to volunteer with, but don’t seem to be making much progress here. Either the jobs are low-level, poorly paid, or require specific experience I don’t have, or in many cases all of the above. From what I’ve seen, organizations don’t seem to be willing to take a risk on someone who doesn’t have exactly the same experience with another non-profit. As I’m not a trust-fund baby, toiling away full-time for nothing or next to nothing just isn’t going to work for me. I am a sucker for free training, and have learned lots of cool things in completely unrelated areas, but can’t forsee a job coming out of any of them. I’m trying very hard to winnow down my other longstanding volunteer commitments, since I will need to have time to work once I do have a job. It’s hard to say “no”, and even harder to say “I’m done” to groups I’ve spent some time with, but I’m working on that.
Project Management: I’ve had a number of recruiters contact me, although I haven’t been placed in a position yet. Many PM roles seem to be contract positions, and there seem to be scads of them available. Although my actual PM experience is light compared to my years of experience, my instinct tells me this is the area in which I should concentrate. I’m in the midst of studying for a project management credential , and next plan to get certified on some project management software I’m familiar with, but haven’t used for quite a few years. Given that many of the positions seem to be short-term contracts (6-12 months), I’m quite willing to go into more junior roles just to get the experience on my resume, as I assume I can move up in pay and experience with successive contracts. Of course, I don’t yet know if this strategy is going to work, but that’s what I’m concentrating on.
I’ve also pondered doing what many people seem to do when they have trouble finding a job — striking out on my own or coaching other people who also can’t find a job. I’m coming up blank on this. I like to travel, write, and hike but can’t work out how any of these things would produce a steady income. My best idea so far in this area is being one of those people who “raise awareness” for a “cause” by walking across one continent or another. However, I don’t think the husband and kids would take well to the announcement that I’ve decided to raise awareness for people afflicted with lactose intolerance by walking to Alaska. On the other hand, if I don’t have a job by the summer, I may take the kids on a camping road trip, and we’d be happy to accept some funding in turn for blogging about our journey and raising awareness of a cause. Any takers? We’d be happy to “Hop Along for the Frogs” with an added bonus of travel tips about the places we visit.
I didn’t think so, so I’ll keep looking for a job, I guess.