I find myself at a crossroad. In 2009, I lost my job in the communications field after more than 10 years with my employer. I have a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in economics.
I've worked in this field since my graduation from university. Most jobs I've done in advertising, public relations or journalism left me very sour since I became increasingly bored and tired. At some points, I was just happy to get my paycheque.
Now, at almost 50 and after 2-1/2 years of job hunting, I can't find a job. I've sent more than 400 résumés for all types of jobs (high-paying to low-paying) offered in communications-related fields with almost no response from employers. I've also used all my personal and business contacts with the same results. I either have too much experience or not enough.
A human resources specialist suggested that I continue to try to reach my aspirations, that everyone ultimately finds a place in the work force. I now sincerely doubt that, and I wonder if I've chosen the wrong industry. A return to school would be too costly since my savings are almost gone.
I'm stuck and don't know how to restart my career for the many remaining years before my retirement. I had planned to work until I’m 65 or older, if it's possible.
I am sorry to hear about your job loss and I understand your frustration in finding new employment. You are not alone in this situation. You sound like you are well educated and have a lot of experience in communications and public relations. It also sounds like you have a low boredom threshold for positions in these fields.
Figure out what you really want in your next position or career. Consider the type of position, the job responsibilities, the industry, specific organizations, and the clientele you would like to work with. Who has a company and position that you would really like? What is your dream job?
You also need to find out why you have not been getting responses to the 400 résumés that you have sent out. Find out from these prospective employers why you were not asked for an interview. Ask for specifics. Was it your cover letter, your résumé, your experience, your age or something else? Ask them what you would need to change in order to be successful in securing a position in that company.
Ask your personal and professional contacts for candid feedback on why you have not been able to secure a position. Take notes and ask for specific suggestions for things that you have to change.
Practise interviews with your friends and colleagues or a professional career coach. Ask for feedback and change your style, if necessary. The more your practise interviewing others and being interviewed, the more comfortable you will be during the real thing.
Set up informal interviews. Once you have identified your ideal positions and ideal companies to work for, request informal interviews with key officials from management and human resources in these companies. Show your interest in the company and that you have done your research about them, the services they offer and their clientele/stakeholders. Tell them about yourself and why you would love to work for them on either a consulting or a full-time basis. Ask them to contact you if any positions or opportunities present themselves.
Consider starting your own consulting business. Look for short-term contracts with different businesses. This is a good way to get to know companies and to see if you would like to work for them longer term. In a tight economy, companies will often hire consultants to address specific issues and challenges as opposed to hiring full-time staff.
Write articles for newspapers, professional and business journals. Attend and give presentations at business and professional events. Start a blog on your own website. You want to be as visible as possible to prospective employers and clients.
Use social networking through LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook and Twitter to expand your contacts and ask for a position or leads on positions. Join appropriate business and professional groups on these social networks. There are also a number of different job and career websites where you can post your résumé and check for appropriate positions. Continue to expand your networks to let people know about you and your experience, and what you are looking for. Consider attending alumni associations events, business networking groups, chamber of commerce meetings and professional association meetings.
Consider teaching at a community college or being a guest lecturer at university or continuing education courses. This is a great way to stay current in your field, share your knowledge and expertise, and make contacts for consulting and full-time work.
If you are interested in positions in the public or non-profit sectors, consider volunteering your time with agencies, special events and boards that will allow you to serve the community and to make key contacts in the agency and the business community.
Remember: visibility and networking are the keys to helping you find the career or position that you desire.
Bruce Sandy is principal of BruceSandy.com and Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting.
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