Less Pay, More Job Security

For some job seekers, a secure profession is worth much more than a hefty paycheck.

By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Would you be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for a secure job? Stephanie Jenkins would.

Jenkins, 51, worked in the hospitality industry for over 25 years until she was laid off for the third time in 14 months. It was then that she decided it was time for a fresh start, in an industry that offered more job security.

"I feel like the hospitality industry abandoned me," Jenkins said.

With a background in hotel sales and marketing, Jenkins focused her search on healthcare because of recent reports of increased hiring there.

Even in the midst of the recession, employment in health care grew by 221,700 jobs since January. During the same period, hospitality lost 114,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.

So Jenkins emphasized her strong sales experience and started targeting sales jobs in healthcare. Immediately, her job search reaped more results. "I started sending my resume out and I got so much interest in that area," she said. Her background even worked in her favor, she explained. "Companies were interested in my outside sales experience."

Three interviews and one job offer later, Jenkins is now a community ambassador for Silverado Senior Living, an Alzheimer's community in Los Angeles. She uses her experience in sales to promote the senior living center to doctors and other health care providers. "I go out and create awareness and educate the health care community about the senior living center," she explained.

Jenkins says she makes about 25% less a year than at her previous position but after five months on the job she is "thriving." The best part is that she's no longer worried about getting laid off again. To Jenkins, that's worth more than the $20,000 paycut.

"One outweighs the other," she said.

Where the jobs are

For other job seekers ready to make a change, our career experts suggest looking for opportunities that suit them best, while also considering industries with growth potential

With an aging population and greater demand for care, health services is certainly one of the areas that offers more opportunity for those looking for job stability.

"People should get clear on where their skills are most transferable and then reach out to their network," advised Kathy Robinson, the founder of TurningPoint, a career consulting firm in greater Boston.

Like Jenkins, job seekers will have more luck making a switch by leveraging their skills when applying for jobs outside of their most recent experience. "An accountant could go find an accounting position in a hospital," Robinson suggested.

Other skill sets are also easily transferable. "There are certain roles that tend to transcend industries -- human resources, accounting, sales and marketing are all good examples of that," added Barbara Safani, president of Career Solvers in New York.

But for others hoping to switch gears, networking becomes even more important, Safani cautioned. Without as much experience as some of your competitors, it helps to have someone who can vouch for you, she said. "It becomes very important to find people to advocate on your behalf to break through any barriers you may face."

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