Ask LH: Where Can I Get Good Career Advice?

Ask LH: Where Can I Get Good Career Advice?

Hi Lifehacker, I am a 46 year old geek. When I graduated from university we even programmed punch cards. I have enjoyed a long IT career. I am working but in service delivery — I really want to get closer to the coal face. I feel like I have lost my way a little, and I want to get some training to refocus. When can I go to get some genuine career help ? I want unbiased advice, not patronising course sales people.

I think my current job is in jeopardy. I need to figure out what direction to take to maximise my experiences. I am happy to pay for training and advice. I have been looking and I can’t find any source (paid or otherwise) to get some guidance. I have spent lots over the years on vendor courses that don’t lead to anything, even though I thought they would. Any suggestions? Thanks, Career Reboot

Career picture from Shutterstock

Dear Career Reboot,

Well CR – about three years ago I was in a similar situation. After a decade in the same organisation I could see that my role was going to be marginalised at some point soon as a result of a merger. I was fortunate as I’d started building a small side business as a freelance writer.

When the time came, I made a break on my own terms and gave myself six months to make a go of it. As I’d been at the same place for a while I had long service leave in the bank, which helped immensely.

By the end of that year, I’d increased my freelance practice by doing some targeting and marketing and I secured a couple of clients that would deliver a regular income on a contract arrangement.

Changing career path is not an easy thing but many of us seem to do it. Part of the challenge is that it takes a lot of courage to leave what might be a safe environment and reliable income stream for the unknown.

As far as sources of career advice go – a recruitment agent can be incredibly helpful. But you might need to meet a few to find the one that understands your personal requirements as well as the professional ones. Otherwise there are professional career counsellors out there.

One last thing before I throw the floor open – have you spoken to your HR department? Many of the HR people I’ve spoken and worked with aware that not everyone in the company is always happy. If you feel comfortable talking to them they might know of roles that are coming up in the company that would suit the path you’re looking at.

With that said, readers – what would you advise?

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I second Anthony’s query about HR. if you find a HR person that’s actually helpful, I’d be interested to know. I’ve always thought that any shortage in morticians could be filled by HR staff if companies downsize… And I say that knowing some people who work in HR on a social basis!

    • That’s if anybody in HR loses their job in a downsize.
      After all, the whole process of restructuring, reassigning staff and getting rid of old staff means the HR department is busier than ever.

  • There are great meet ups in every city around Australia of industry professionals that are great places to make connections that can leverage your experience more highly than an aging qualification on your resume can.

    I’ve been to a few here in Perth that were pretty beneficial as we ended up throwing some business back and forward.

  • For me the same story but in a different industry. My advice – don’t listen to others: listen to yourself. What matters is what you want out of life (not a job). What do you value highly? Money? Time? Peace? Fun? Stimulation? Different people? A new location?

    If you are bored and looking to ‘do something different’ maybe what you need is a sabbatical or holiday – or a retreat – NOT to discuss what tech course to go on, but where is your life going. You may need time with yourself – and not well-meaning advice from family friends or colleagues – and ESPECIALLY agencies. (They only want to make their cut and do NOT care if you are happy – in fact the more times you move jobs is better for them!)

    So get a self-help book (or LH links…) and work through ‘your story’. Where have you come from – where you are now – what do you want to be doing in 10 years time?

    At our age change is not easy as we have commitments and taking a pay cut to change direction means paying dearly in terms of future wealth (pension – retirement quality of life). As such the ‘dream’ you think you want must be worth this loss of real cash. If you (like me) are still tech at this age then a star position is unlikely to drop in your lap… Like Clint Eastwood said – “a man has to know his limitations”.

    It may be you are bored – a bit of a MLC – and wondering what your life amounts to. This is a dangerous feeling to have. It is an age where we come to terms with the fact our dreams won’t come true, and doors are closing. This has been a real struggle for me for the last 5 years (and I have what many would consider an enviable job/salary/lifestyle).

    Before you jump ship be sure you will be happy where you land. If you feel vulnerable in your job now may be the time to appreciate what you have… and make plans to survive if the wind of redundancy blows your way.

    If you are in danger of making a big mistake then it would be worth the cost of a distraction reward to take your mind off the job. Even in recession, buy yourself something or plan a holiday (something YOU want for yourself, not the family). It will be cheaper than making a disastrous career decision.

    I hope the above helps.

  • My role became redundant mid last year and I had no idea what I was going to do next.

    As part of the package the company provided me with Career Transition services from an external consulting firm. They weren’t a job placement agency, their role was to help me figure out what next and assist me through the process.

    I found their assistance very useful, especially in figuring out what my values and working styles were so I could better filter what roles/skills/training and direction I wanted to go in.

    They had excellent resources available for research in many areas and arranged meetings between many of us in similar circumstances which proved to be good for support and bonus networking.

    In my case it allowed me to find what was really important to me, and then figure out how to make it work.

    I’m currently in a casual role with part time remote lecturing as a side interest which allows the most important thing to occur which is spending time with my 9 yr old son.

  • I woke up one day with that wherever-has-the-time-gone?! feeling and realised that I’m kissin’ 40 and still lacking direction / focus re career. A lifehacker post (on the US site, it may have been published here also) led me to Penelope Trunk, a career blogger, author, and entrepreneur. I would advise you check out her blog and have a look around:
    I recently purchased an hour long career coaching session with her, which I’m yet to use. She’s a dynamo & has lots of useful and practical things to say. Good luck!

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