o I've been thinking a lot about my job prospects.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm at the end of the road and will never succeed in getting another quality full-time perm job with benefits. I've said this before, and then I got the bank job, but each year, I get a little older.
Will I end up stumbling toward retirement for the next 8 years (til Medicare eligibility and Social Security) with low-paying, erratic work and the stress that goes with that, never really feeling free to actually "enjoy" these years because I can't tell if I'm actually retired or not?
Contrast that with earlier plans to "sprint" to an early retirement (from f/t work, anyway) in just a few years?
What I've noticed more and more on the job boards is that employers are combining two jobs into one, trying to find a writer, for instance, who also does web development work, knows HTML coding or can deftly maneuver through Photoshop.
I have to admit that I am not the perfect job candidate. All I've ever wanted to do was write, kind of like in my mother's case, all she ever wanted to do was create art. It may sound admirable to know your career goals, but in truth it's a little narrow-minded.
I've worked for over 30 years now and I've always earned a living as a writer. I tell employers it's what I do best and enjoy the most. And employers seem to respect that single-minded focus. But during all that time, I haven't expanded my repertoire or sought to improve my skill set much.
What I DID do was this: When I was working in financial services, I did study for and obtain my Series 6 Limited Investment Securities license and my Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent license. Not to sell mutual funds but just for the knowledge. I did it because my manager was prodding me to do so, plus for each exam I took, the company paid me $500.
When I worked as a real estate copywriter, I took Real Estate Principles and Practice, Connecticut real estate salesperson’s exam, and scored highest in class. I got a 99! I think I did this one of my own accord.
I still remember being surprised when the instructor decided to announce to the whole class who scored the highest. I was sitting in the back of the room and there were two women who were constantly talking and goofing around. When the teacher announced the high score, they just turned around and looked at me without smiling.
My certificate is up in the attic somewhere. Again, I never paid for the license as I didn't intend to sell real estate; it was just meant to help me do my job better.
Right now, I am enrolled in a free online grammar refresher course, with EdX.com with University of Queensland. If you're not familiar with them, you should check it out. These are real, college-level courses put on by professors at hundreds of leading schools. You can take the course for free but you have to pay $50 or $100 if you want a certificate.
But aside from those 3 things, and my stint in law school aborted after one year, I haven't done much to improve my career prospects. I started thinking about what I could do.
One thing I am often conscious of is that my familiarity with technology is somewhat limited. As a writer, all you need to know is MS Word. I have also used Powerpoint and Excel, and occasionally edited PDFs with Adobe Acrobat.
In a previous job I used a content management system called Vignette daily, as well as WordPress. Many years ago I also used PageMaker to create a newsletter for my employer. But that's about it. Partly due to laziness, partly to disinterest. Most of the time, I learned software because I was already in a job and I had to.
I often see jobs posted where they want you to know specific programs, like Adobe Photoshop, or HTML stuff, or Google Analytics, or something else. They don't want to pay for someone to take a course or wait til they gear up; they want an employee who can hit the ground running.
I got a free, 7-day trial of Photoshop thinking, how hard could it be? But I can see now I would definitely need a class to be able to use it. It's fairly sophisticated.
I would consider taking a course so I could put it on my resume and say that I "know" it, but there isn't any one course that employers mention, there's probably seven or eight. I think I know some of the basics of HTML coding, just stuff I picked up when I was loading stories I'd written onto a website using a CMS. But obviously there's still more to learn. Maybe that's what I should think about.
Maybe I should ditch the volunteer job editing for NutritionFacts.org and spend that time instead on an online HTML class?
I started today building a list of all the software programs writer job postings contain. Already, the list includes the following: Excel, Viso, Sprinklr CRM, Instagram, WordPress, Adobe Creative Suite, Sketchr, Flash, Squarespace, Hubspot, Adobe InDesign, Dreamweaver and Publisher.
Right now, my only source of income is the higher education website. I had hoped I could gross $1,000 a month from them, but my best month to date (last month) was just $540.
Aside from that, I still have a client I picked up about 4 or 5 years ago from Craigslist, believe it or not. He's an IT director who wanted someone to edit his emails in as close to real time as possible.
That's morphed into other things. Now he's job hunting and he landed an interview with a cover letter and resume I helped him write. Today, unexpectedly, he called and wants me to help him write out Q&As he's using to prep for the interview this weekend. Which is exactly what I do for every interview.
So I'm glad I cleared my plate yesterday with my last higher education assignment so I have time to do this.
Job outlook ruminations
o I've been thinking a lot about my job prospects.