Ask LH: How Can I Reboot My Career?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m 28 and moved over to Australia from New Zealand in 2010. Since moving over I’ve worked in retail, a job initially intended as an interim position. I have been unable to get a job more suited to my qualifications.

I graduated in 2007 with a bachelor degree in marketing and communications as well as a post-graduate diploma in marketing. I have never really used my education in any position I have had since graduating, and am finding it extremely difficult to get any worthwhile offer. How do I get my career back on track? Thanks, Over-Qualified

Job seeker picture from Shutterstock

Dear OQ,

It sounds like you need to adjust your expectations and consider an entry-level job in the field you want to work in. A qualification means very little if you have no relevant work experience — especially if you received your degree years ago and have nothing to show for it.

Whether fairly or unjustly, most potential employers are going to judge you for those “wasted” years. You can give all the excuses in the world, but at the very least they’ll probably think you lack drive and hunger. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of eager, fresh-faced graduates vying for the same position without any of this extra baggage.

It’s not all doom-and-gloom though. A friend of mine decided to embark on a journalism career a good five or six years after he had received his communications degree. Prior to that he’d mainly worked night shifts at a hotel. He now edits two major publications for ACP Magazines. Below is some advice that he gave to a previous reader which I feel is also relevant here:

I wasn’t getting anywhere by sending my CV to everyone and replying to job ads, so I decided to up the ante. I went down to my local newsagent with a pen and paper and wrote down the email address of almost every magazine editor and publisher I could find and then went home and emailed them all saying that I’ll work for free. A magazine at ACP decided to take me up on it, and after a while started paying me. Seven years later, I’m running a mag of my own. If they don’t let you in the front door, you’ve gotta try and climb in a window.

The key is to keep persevering and not be too precious about where you start on the ladder. Good luck!

If there are any readers working in marketing here, feel free to dispense some advice for OQ in the comments section below.


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