Pursuing a 'Plan-B' Job
By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs
Many professionals are finding it harder to land their dream job these days. In some cases, entire industries have been contracting and will continue to shrink. But when one door closes, another (somewhat similar, previously unconsidered, possibly less glamorous) door opens.
Here are a few examples of how professionals in a variety of fields could cast their job hunting net wider to land a "Plan-B" job with the skills they already have:
Commercial Real Estate Manager to Liquidator
When a company goes under, there are many steps involved, such as how to value inventory and how to determine the value of the property. "Right now there is a greater demand for liquidators, and those in commercial real estate who have that knowledge can be good candidates for those jobs," says Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Moody's Economy.com
Stock Broker to Investment Counselor
In the wake of the Wall Street and banking meltdown, many investment banking careers are endangered. However, with the broker's knowledge of investment, finance and value, and the consumer's quandary over where to invest, you have an opportunity. Investment counselors can help people determine their risk tolerance, financial plans and -- something very important these days -- manage their debt. Counselors can find most job openings are at small firms, or they can start their own companies.
Construction Manager to Green Building Retrofitter
New commercial and residential construction is cold, but green building retrofitting is hot. Real estate experts say commercial property owners are clamoring to make their buildings LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, in order to attract more customers. In addition, homeowners are seeing a value in retrofitting their homes to be more energy efficient.
IT Professional (Big Company) to IT Professional (Smaller Company)
Large companies have been disproportionately hit with layoffs in a variety of fields, but there are many more opportunities for IT professionals at small firms or startups, Koropeckyj says. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a strong demand for network systems analysts and data communications analysts and computer software engineers, so if prospects at the big firms are drying up, prospects at smaller companies should be growing.
Copywriter/Print Designer to Project Manager
It's more competitive than ever to find a creative job at an ad agency, but many project-manager positions are opening up, especially for people who understand how to work with tight budgets, according to Megan Slabanski, executive director of The Creative Group.
"If you have good organizational skills and understanding of an agency, or if you've been in any kind of leadership role, such as bringing in deliverables on time and under budget, you may already have what it takes to land a project-management job," Slabanski says.
Auto Salesperson to Repo Man
The economy has hurt sales professionals; it also created opportunities for people who repossess cars and other vehicles when buyers have fallen behind on payments. Employment requirements vary from state to state, but in general the bar to entry is not high. In addition, collection agencies have seen a sharp increase in workload, so opportunities for collections agents are increasing. These jobs require a tough skin; but if you have a lot of experience at sales, your ego is probably resilient.
The Common Thread
If there seems to be a theme in job opportunities, there is: making the best of a bad economy. Downsizing is in, both in personal finances and in corporate payrolls. Jobs or careers dedicated to helping people (or companies) better manage their finances, save money, get better value for their dollar and avoid financial catastrophe should be more plentiful in the short term, Koropeckyj says.
See how the job could fit into your overall career narrative, career coach Deborah Brown-Volkman says. "And ask yourself how long you will be in the job," she says. "Some people say, 'I'm only going to do this a year,' and then 10 years pass and they're still there. Have a plan for what's next."
Step Down? Not Always
A Plan-B job might not be a step down at all and could be more rewarding than the Plan-A job. Moving from copywriter to project manager could mean more money. A human resources professional moving from a large corporation to a startup would see a pay cut, but could have more growth opportunities and flexibility (and possible stock options).
A Wall Street analyst moving to investment counseling would see a more manageable 40-hour workweek and the satisfaction of directly helping people in need (and have a job title with less social stigma).
For many Plan-B jobs, you don't have to earn an additional degree, or even obtain a certificate, but they do require a repositioning your existing skills, according to Slabanski.
"The most important thing in a good economy or bad is to keep expanding your skills and knowledge," she says. "You don't need to be a jack of all trades, but if you stay current on what's going on in your industry and update your skills to what's needed today, you won't work yourself out of a job."