Career Path

What’s the saying, When one door closes, another opens. Well after 20+ years last week I had a door close, unexpectedly. It closed on a career that has been very good to me and my family. Now they question is standing at the career path fork in the road which way do I head?

Plan B

Having a back up plan or a plan B when it comes to employment was something I have given much thought about this year. Posting about it just a few months ago, needless to say it has been a slow process for me. We have our e-fund in place. I’ve been searching for the money-making side hustle. I have the blog and recently have gotten involved volunteering my time in our local community promoting financial literacy, but neither make as significant money. It’s certainly on the forefront of my thinking in the last few days and may shape my decision going forward.

career path

Leveraging my Network

I took a day or two to regroup after the news last week. Nothing major just focused on some things on my to-do list before I started to make contact with my network. The good news is after working for 20 years I have built a pretty large network. I spoke with some close friends and associates who have been through similar situations and received some good advice.

10% – That’s the percentage of people who you can expect to actually help you or hear from in a situation like this. This was an eye opener, but seems to be holding true.

Be Specific – When contacting you network for help, just don’t say I’m looking for work. Be specific in you request, can you put me in touch with the HR person that does hiring, or in contact at this company I’d like to work with them.

So far this week I have several meeting set up and an interview, so the wheels of the network are in motion.

Redefining my Career

I certainly want to get back to work as soon as possible. Being able to bank any severance cash would be a great thing, the question is do I want to return to the world of operations, 1000 e-mails a day, the crazy hours, and the unsettled work/life balance. It is the easiest way to maintain my 6 figure income. I’m just not sure I want to do that for another 15-20 years. Could I use savings to take a chance to try to build something new, maybe something on my own or in a totally difference career direction. That’s what I’m going to explorer in the next few weeks.

Have you ever been in this situation, if so how did you handle it? Faced with a career decision today would go with something you know or try something new? All advice welcome.

41 thoughts on “Career Path”

  1. As someone who is only about 4 1/2 years into their career, I won’t pretend to be able to relate to your situation. Clearly you’ve been in your work for a significant amount of time and know better than anyone whether you want to continue it for 15-20 years. I’m sorry to hear about the unfortunate news, but it sounds like you have a good network and won’t have too much trouble getting another position in your field, if that’s what you desire. For me I find it hard to justify doing anything other than the area I’m already in because I really don’t want to take a pay cut. But again, probably different than your situation because I am 100% focused on increasing income and wiping out debt right now. I may think differently 10 years down the road.

  2. I can’t really relate to your situation either, unfortunately. It sounds like your prior career was stressful though – maybe you could try something that would make family life easier?
    I don’t know. Either way, I hope you find something that makes you happy and improves your life!

  3. Brian, hope things work well for you.

    It seems to me you are approaching the issue from the right angle, giving yourself necessary time to consider some options and using network to facilitate future employment. Mentioning the network, try and think of the people in it that you have helped in the past, those are the ones you can summon to return the favour (not in the form of a demand obviously but a kind request). Those folks should be more likely to extend a helping hand, especially if you helped them big time previously.

    Can’t say I have been in the same situation, somewhat similar one though. I decided to quit a very well paid job in hopes of starting something new, closer to the heart, elsewhere. That didn’t work out and I jumped from one employment to another (all of which found through my network of friends by the way) and I eventually ended up back in the same company (after repeated offers from them to get me back).

    I, too, had a few side activities going on (freelancing) but nothing that could pay my bills and rent. My current assessment is that income should not be coming primarily from 1 place and if you have 2 or 3 or more, each of them separately should be able to cover for your basic expenses. That would be something I am going to be aiming for in the future at least.

    Wish you luck in finding employment that is right for you!

  4. I can relate. Although it wasn’t 20 years it was 8 years, and prior to that always having a full time job. I’m sorry you’re in this situation and hope you can find what you’re looking for. My layoff was the catalyst into becoming a freelancer, although I’d be dishonest if I said it hasn’t been incredibly hard. Best of luck to you my friend!

  5. We went through this in 2010, only with no emergency fund and plenty of debt. The first thing I would say is not to panic. You’ve got a boatload of experience and you’re -from what I can tell – an awesome worker. Doors will indeed open. You guys are in a sound place financially and that will carry you through until you decide what you want to do next. Maybe that’s taking some kind of a consultant type of a job – who knows? You got this, my friend, Stand strong, lean on those who love you and care for you and remember that in the grand scheme of things, it’s okay. You’ve got your family and your health, the rest will come.

    1. Thanks Laurie. No panic, as least not yet. 🙂 So glad we cleaned up our financial mess. If this happen five years ago, we’d really be in a tough spot.

  6. I’m still fairly young in my career and cannot relate to your recent experience. It’s great that you already have the wheels in motion, and with your network and experience, I doubt it will take long to find the right fit. For me (I’m 27), right now I would go with the path that would get me to financial independence the fastest. I haven’t had 20 years of punching the clock yet, so for you this may be a different decision. I hope it all works out and look forward to reading more about the process. Take care.

  7. Man, that sucks! I’m glad you have a good network, and good luck with the career path exploration. It’s fortunate that your family worked so hard to pay off the debt — that makes this transition much easier. My sister and I are wishing you good luck from this corner of the internet.

  8. I’m sorry to hear this happened! I think you have a good path forward, though I’d also say if you’ve been at your job long – invest in a good resume critique. It’s easy to fall in the land of “I did” instead of showing accomplishments.

    If I were let go today, I’d find a way to just stay home. I know I can make money freelancing, and I don’t necessarily need a full time income. Stefanie from the Broke and Beautiful Life did a great piece recently about how much freelancers can earn, which opened my eyes more in that regard.

    1. Thanks Kirsten. Resume critique schedule for tomorrow. 🙂 I’ve considered freelancing, just not sure I could increase the income where I need it to be so quickly.

  9. I know that this is not the path that you planned on taking; however, I truly believe that it can and will lead to something exciting for you. I would suggest pursuing your current job route as well as a possible new one the more avenues that you pursue during this time, the better your results. Even if you end up in a job that is similar to the one you have, it doesn’t mean that you will stay there another 20 years, but it is easier to find a job when you have a job and if you don’t like where you end up, you can always look again. Good luck and keep us posted!!

  10. We went through this in 2003 – the end of a slow-motion train wreck that started in 1998 with upheaval in the high-tech sector that had my husband going from one failing company to another. Unlike you, we had no emergency fund. We also had too much debt. You are in a much, much better position than we were because you’ve got these areas covered. You are actually in a position to pursue something that would fit in better with what you want in life. If you’re willing to take big steps (like moving to a less expensive home?), you could give yourself a lot of freedom of choice. It’s great that you’ve built up such a broad network (even it only 10% are coming through) and that you’ve already got an interview lined up! I’m wishing you all the best, Brian. I’m hoping that some day you’re able to say that this was the best thing that could have happened to your career.

    1. Thanks Ruth. I’m looking at it as an opportunity as well. We have thought about relocating etc, but in a tough spot with home value and children in High School, but in a great shape from debt and e-fund perspective. So only time will tell what we do.

  11. I am sorry to hear about but it is great that you are in a good spot financially. Like you said one door closes and another opens. You could do a little freelancing while trying to figure out your next move.
    I don’t know if this is a terrible suggestion or not – I just read How to Survive Without a Salary by Charles Long on the weekend – I really enjoyed it and would recommend it (got it at the library). It was inspiring.
    Good luck with whatever you choose to do next and be kind to yourself!

  12. Wow I feel for you! I have sort of been there. I was a lot younger with not as much experience. At least you have a solid financial foundation. That is the hardest time to remain stress free, but if you can do that, you can do anything.

  13. Good to hear that you have your e-fund in place and you get some severance pay to boot. If I were you, I’d take just a little time to figure it all out. You don’t need to jump at the first thing that presents itself. Take a few weeks to decide if you want to go back to the same field. In the meantime, keep trying to work the side hustles to bring in a little extra cash. Good luck, and I’m sorry for your situation.

  14. If you haven’t already read it check out Dan Miller’s book 48 Days to the Work You Love. It really helped me several years ago sort through my feelings about work and what I may/may not enjoy doing. Best of luck!

  15. I’m sorry to hear about this. Thank goodness your family has been so diligent about getting on better financial footing. Paying off your debt and having your e-fund will really give you some flexibility to figure out what to do next. You definitely have a lot of experience, and seem to be a very good worker, so I’m sure you will find something soon. I’ve never been in your situation, but if I was, I would be as open minded as possible and seek out both similar positions and new lines of work. This could be an amazing opportunity for you. I wish you nothing but the best!

    1. Thanks Jessica. So true. If there was a time for this to happen now, was the best. Looking forward to the future!

  16. Mr Tre is in the same position. Luckily we knew it was coming and he started transitioning to become a high school math teacher. Unfortunately, we learned he will lose his job a year earlier than expected and before he finishes his certification program. Good luck with your job search! Now is really a good time to evaluate if you can move to a field that is more satisfying.

  17. I’m so sorry to hear this. I was laid off a few years ago and it was a surprisingly emotional experience. I knew it was “just business,” but it still stung.
    I’m wondering if you could translate your 20+ years of experience in your field into an ebook or service or product? What would your fellow colleagues need / love to have or know that’s not in the market?
    Good luck!!!

  18. Uffff I´m sorry this happened. I´m in the process of looking for a new job myself, right now (though my circumstances are pretty different from yours) and I find that, like you said, being specific with information is key. There are a few jobs I´ve looked at and before applying, I´ve proactively set up appointments with the hiring managers to learn more about the details of the role, and for them to have a better sense of who I am. That way, if I do decide to apply, I´m not just another name on a list–and I get the benefit of not wasting my time and energy applying for something it turns out I wouldn´t like anyway.

  19. This is not unusual as companies lay off workers all the time, It stinks when it happens but I know you will figure it out. Just take action everyday and you will eventually find another career. I like all the advice above, but if you can spare a day, go to local library or job training organization, to see if they have career seminars. IT will help get the ball rolling.

    1. I realize it’s a common practice. Someone asked me if I was sleeping in now, and I reply hell no I’m up ear;y everyday working on my job search.

  20. I went through the same experience last year. Totally unexpected and out of the blue. I considered trying to turn my side-hustle into a full-time gig, but got a call from a recruiter literally two hours after getting home from my last day at my old job. Little did I know that call would lead to my next job, which came with a raise and a company I like much more than the old one.

    Things have a way of working themselves out. Not usually as easy as I had it, but your next step will come into view as you talk to your network and other companies who will value your skills.

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