A Breakdown Of 10 Common Career Struggles
The AOL Career Luck Project was started as a way to throw a rope to real-life jobseekers mired in career quicksand by giving them detailed and useful advice tailored to their personal trials. Hundreds of people sent in their stories. Some lamented job loss after putting in many faithful years at their company, others were struggling to keep up with industry changes and still others were desperate to exit their fields for something new. Many stories were heartbreaking and shared strikingly common threads.
Ultimately, ten participants (including me) were selected for the project for the universality of their situations. Below are their makeovers, full of practical tips that can help you tighten your own resume, polish your LinkedIn profile and recast your perspective about what is and isn't possible. Sit back, watch the coaching videos and then read more for the complete stories.
1. What to do when you're the Jack-of-all-Trades, "Master-of-None"
When Kevin's company recently decided to eliminate operations in America, his job had to go. In his 14 years with the same employer, Kevin's job description underwent many changes. Although he had amassed a variety of skills and experience, he found it hard to define himself and pinpoint the right job opportunities to pursue. Over the years, Kevin had become a "jack-of-all-trades." But to potential employers, he might seem to be a "master of none."
2. How to overcome a major career setback
She had a coveted position at her company, but when her mother became seriously ill, Gayle had to take off six months to care for her. She returned from two leaves of absence to a less taxing job that she didn't love. She began to fear that she had lost her dream job.
3. When your college degree isn't enough
You may think a jobseeker with a master's degree in mechanical engineering would have it made in an economy that supposedly favors science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors over liberal arts degrees. Shaylean's story shows that generalizations are never airtight. After applying to around 500 positions, he has only interviewed four times, none of which got him an offer.
4. How to regain your confidence after a string of career disappointments
Sonya was lured in many directions by a series of unfulfilled promises. There was the internship that never resulted in a job; the mediocre first employer that moved her from department to department; and the second round of schooling that resulted in another job and a faraway move that made her so miserable that she moved back home and took another unsatisfactory job.
5. How to get a job without a bachelor's degree
After serving in the military, Tim used the GI Bill to get an associate's degree and spent years working at a company before getting laid off. Although he feels qualified for most job postings he sees today, almost all of them specify "Bachelor's Degree Required." Going back to school is unlikely to teach him anything new, but an ATS, or applicant tracking system, won't account for this and will screen him out for any position that requires a higher degree.
6. When you're "overqualified"
Charles worked in sales for 20 years before setting up his own business. That was a short stint. Now, he is struggling to find a job despite his networking attempts and applying to hundreds of openings online. He finally met a candid human resources worker who told him that his history of big successes is a deterrent to employers.
7. It's never too late to change careers
An illness contracted after high school delayed Melissa's entry into the workforce several years. When she was finally fit to work, the only job she could find was administrative work. She wants to break into the marketing industry, but on top of having no marketing experience, she hasn't yet completed her bachelor's degree.
8. How to discover your own "career happiness"
J.T., the purveyor of this series, was once in a career rut herself. By age 33, she was an executive with a very comfortable income. Sounds great, doesn't it? What wasn't pleasant were her health problems, not seeing her family and friends and not having the chance to enjoy the fruits of her labor. The birth of her first child was her wake-up call that she was leading a destructive lifestyle.
9. How to survive multiple layoffs
Marci was laid off from three consecutive start-ups, averaging two layoffs every six months. She loved start-up culture but didn't think her career could keep taking these unemployment bombs.
10. How to explain your job-jumping past
Dave may be a good worker, but his history of job-hopping signals that he lacks professional focus. This became apparent to him when he and his wife moved to a new state for her job. Dave no longer had a local professional network that could vouch for his abilities.