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Career Path

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
OK - looking for some feedback on this. Got into a heated discussion with my wife last night about career paths. In her opinion, I should have one with the idea being that I apparently know the exact position where I would like to end up and, in her words, "be able to look back in 20-years and know that I've built something."

My feeling is that I don't know where I'm going to wind up in 20-years, but that I should just keep trying to move forward with new and challenging opportunities where I can continue learning.

Yes - based on my resume, I am somewhat of a job-hopper. I've held about 14-15 positions with different organizations since graduating from college 17-years ago - but to me they have generally been in the same broad area - communications, public affairs, media relations, non-profit management & fundraising - and I've gained more responsibility and pay with each position. The big sidetrack was spending 6-years as an Investment Advisor, but even that gave me real world business experience that I didn't have previously.

I guess my thought is that I have a great skill-set in strategic planning, management and public/media relations, but I haven't yet determined exactly where it's taking me. When I think about it, there are many things I feel that I could eventually do - Association or Non-Profit Executive Director, Politician, Corporate Spokesman, Director of Media/Public Relations.

My ultimate goal is to eventually strike out on my own as a media, fundraising, political consultant, but I'm not really sure how to get there except to keep learning as much as I can in my current position and in any future positions.

Just looking for anyone's feedback or thoughts...
post #2 of 20
With all due respect Bradford, I think 14-15 positions in 17 years probably points you squarely in the direction of self-employment and/or consulting. I agree with you on the gaining knowledge & experience thing. But I'm guessing that most HR people who'd see your resume would agree with the job-hopping label. But you're not really in the market for a corporate culture, so who cares? My own resume is similarly littered with many, many titles and employers. I think you're on the right track toward your stated goal.
post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota rube
With all due respect Bradford, I think 14-15 positions in 17 years probably points you squarely in the direction of self-employment and/or consulting. I agree with you on the gaining knowledge & experience thing. But I'm guessing that most HR people who'd see your resume would agree with the job-hopping label.

But you're not really in the market for a corporate culture, so who cares? My own resume is similarly littered with many, many titles and employers. I think you're on the right track toward your stated goal.
yeah i agree with rube. i mean, take out the six years as an investment consultant and you have had "13-14" roles in 11 yrs.

consult and work for yourself....(this from someone who runs a corporate communications company too...)
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
OK - so I'm a job-hopper

I would like to point out that 4 of these positions were with political campaigns, so they had a pre-set expiration date. Additionally, 2 of my jobs were eliminated due to corporate downsizing that eliminated entire departments, so it's not all my fault!

Anyway - appreciate the feedback guys... anyone else?
post #5 of 20
Job-hopping is not held against you in politics.
post #6 of 20
Let me chime in and agree with the above. The number of positions in the timeframe would be disconcerting to established companies. As one who had a role in hiring (and admittedly, the business of law is different, but is changing), I frankly would have had a great deal of concern about such a work history.

But I do understand to a degree what you are experiencing. I've left the practice of law after 11 years to start a consulting firm, specifically because I was feeling increasingly burnt out and unfulfilled and wanted the opportunity to build something of my own.

I used the exposure I had to different elements of what I did as a lawyer, which was primarily restructuring work, to launch into the consulting game, specifically consulting with companies experiencing financial, legal and other challenges and helping them communicate. In the past, when working with clients, I often had responsibility for reviewing and/or writing the PR materials related to a filing or transaction. It was certainly a lot more fun drafting that stuff than it was the umpteenth motion to reject a lease. So I contacted some of the other advisors I'd worked with, sought their advice and guidance and took the leap earlier this year. So far it's been great. Business has been good and the process of establishing a business has been interesting.

I do think it is worthwhile to have some sort of plan. Otherwise, time tends to slip past, and we end up thinking about what we wanted to do as opposed to what we ended up doing. Figure out what it is you really want to do and set a course.
post #7 of 20
Bradford - being as we are about the same age, and I am currently unemployed, I am not sure that I am the best person to give you advice, but here is my take:

going back about 15 years, my long term goal was to gain enough experience, and capital, to branch out on my own at a point approx 5 years ahead of where I am now. what I wanted to do was basically outsource the international sales function for a number of small to medium sized companies. I plotted out the expereince that I thought I would need, and the type of capital. I actually thought that getting the capital together wouldn't be difficult, with all of the start ups offering equity to management. Part of what drove me was the whole concept of the "brand you" and the "project" career lifetstyle, that magazines like fast company talked about at the time.

now I have a great package of experiences in my field, really great. I have come, very very close to getting a nice chunk of capital from 3 different compnies, and each time it didn't work out. and I have a half dozen jobs on my resume, in 17 years.

two jobs, that I have interveiwed for recently told me specifically that my job hopping was a problem, and that they were very concerned about it. I cant say for sure that this was why I didn't get the jobs, but it may have been. the issue has been raised with every company or headhunter that I have spoken to.

on the other hand, everybody is always blown away by my experience, which I wouldn't have with out the switching jobs.

for what it's worth.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradford

My ultimate goal is to eventually strike out on my own as a media, fundraising, political consultant, but I'm not really sure how to get there except to keep learning as much as I can in my current position and in any future positions.


'Eventually' can be a dangerous word, my friend. Are you sure you don't already have the necessary skill set? Talk to as many people as you can who are doing what you want to do. In fact, it will probably be incredibly useful just to talk to people who have struck out on their own, regardless of their particular career; it's possible you've already learned about as much as the corporate world can teach you, and just need help developing your 'entrepreneurial legs'. Carpe Diem!

(That was all just a conversation with myself, by the way, but if any of it fits, you're welcome to it. )
post #9 of 20
Bradford: I hope you don't think I meant to diss you. As I said, I have a similar job-hopping resume. And I truly believe that all the experience you've gathered will help you in establishing yourself in the consultancy. Just be prepared for the reaction Globe has pointed out should you float your resume past a corporate HR wonk.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Dakota - no offense taken...

Does anyone have any recommendations of good books or resources that one might look at in considering whether or not to strike out on their own?
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradford
Dakota - no offense taken...

Does anyone have any recommendations of good books or resources that one might look at in considering whether or not to strike out on their own?


Bradford - I do not believe that a book will help you, in this particular issue. I bet you can find 10 people doing more or less what you want to do. talk to them, understand their economics, how they market their services, collect fees, and what their operating costs are. calculate what you need to support your family for the period until you can expect to be generating enough cash flow (and by this I mean actual collection, not paper revenue). calculate how much capital you have.

basically, if you believe that you can, in the long term, get enough clients to pay you enough money to make it worth while, and in the short term you can survive until you start generating cash flow, then you are all set. if you don't believe that this is the case, be more carefull.


good luck
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Zach -

I don't actually feel that I'm in position to go out on my own right now. That's why I was thinking if I could get some book recs I might discover what other skills or resources would be useful for getting to the point where I am ready.

Brad
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradford
Zach -

I don't actually feel that I'm in position to go out on my own right now. That's why I was thinking if I could get some book recs I might discover what other skills or resources would be useful for getting to the point where I am ready.

Brad

Here is an idea: is there a professional organization (like the IEEE is for engineers or HFES for human factors specialists) for the field you are interested in? If so, they should be able to provide tonnes of information as well as recommended reading, training courses, guidance possibly even mentoring contacts. I know for a fact that the two mentioned above offer such things, I don't see why it would be limited to those fields alone.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradford
Zach -

I don't actually feel that I'm in position to go out on my own right now. That's why I was thinking if I could get some book recs I might discover what other skills or resources would be useful for getting to the point where I am ready.

Brad


I think that it will be career dependent. lets say you will be selling a certain skill - possibly a skill that you have today. what you will need is to be able to


1. either find the people who need this skill or convince people that they need this skill
2. give them enough information about your skills so that they feel comfortable paying you to perform this skill
3. create a situation where people looking for this skill will find you
4. deal with all of the adimistrative and logistical aspects of running a small consulting business that are not specific to your skill.

and I believe that 1-3 will be dependent on your field, and to a lesser extent on your market. I believe that you would be best served talking to people who are doing what you would like to do. first, they may be flattered that you ask and offer you help. second, they may, very possibly, use stringers - people working on a contract basis for a specific project. working this way can help you understand if this is for you, and also help you build up part 4. as well as build contacts.

good luck
post #15 of 20
Addendum: This is something that I believe may also help. Once you are the member of such an organization, you often receive member directories. You can then contact members in the field and ask them for recommendations and advice. I had done that in the past; was nerveracking for me as I do not like dealing with people that much but seeing the field you are in, it should be a breeze for you! I got a good amiount of good advice from other engineers that way and also got some advice on how to go about applying with their company and entering a field that is very ill-defined. Edit: I see that Zach has already mentioned what I just posted.
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