Workplace Rights

Weekly (5/8/09)

Topic of the Week  Dead Zone - The Job I Trained for Disappeared.

Changing Careers:
• Network information.
• Expertise.
• Xciting.
• Transition time.

Your Rant: I just got my MBA degree with an emphasis in finance and real estate. Help.

911 Repair,
It’s tough to put all that effort into an MBA only to learn that jobs in your profession have dried up. Tough stuff. Which reminds me of a recent trip to the airport. As I was racing to the gate I took a quick glance at my boarding pass. I got to gate D-21 with minutes to spare. Unfortunately that wasn’t my gate, it was my seat. I ended up missing my plane.

The destination matters, at the airport and with your career. You’ve worked hard to improve your skills. The key for you now is to find the destination that’s right for you, given the changing economy. That’s why my strategies below are all built around the word “N.E.X.T.” For more, check out the free resources at

Network information. Not all networking should be focused on getting a job. Sometimes you want to talk to people about the kind of job you should pursue. It’s called an “Information Interview.” This is a valuable tool to sort out if you really want the job. Meet with people who have the job description that you’re interested in and ask them what they like about it, what they don’t and who else you should talk to about it. This is an incredibly valuable process that far too few people take the time to do. 

Expertise. Where would your specific skills have the most value? Here is a simple exercise to help you look at your skills more broadly. Make a list of your last five jobs. List the five main tasks for each job. Then the skills that are needed to do each task. Now you should have a column with 125 skills listed. See if you can combine them in a new and different ways. Most of us have the skills to do more than one job.

Xciting. Almost everyone is now going to have to work longer, given the decline of the stock market and housing values. Since we’ll be working longer, shouldn’t it be at a job that we really like? It sounds Pollyannaish, but I think it’s important to find jobs that excite you. Not only will these jobs be more fun for you to do, but chances are that you’ll work a lot harder in your job hunt pursuing something that really interests you.

Transition time. Some jobs you can slide right into. Others require a more involved transition, for example, additional training or testing. Everywhere you look there are articles saying that health care and education are still areas of job growth, but these are two areas that tend to have very specific educational requirements. So it’s important to take the time to ask how involved your transition will be to this new area. 

Your career can take off, but you’ve got to start the journey pointed in the right direction. Use these tips to learn what’s next.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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