Q. I am having problems finding the right job for me. I am a 50-year-old African-American female and have three graduate degrees (law, theology, and library science). I have been working as a librarian for the past 10 years and want to move into administrative work. I get interviews for some higher administrative positions, but have yet to be hired. I have gone on "informational" interviews where my resume and interview skills have been lauded and no changes have been suggested, but when I later send a resume to those people, I don't get an interview. I have been thinking of getting a PhD in library science to help in my search for a better job. What do you think? Also, is there a person/business that works with the unhireable, which is what I have apparently turned out to be?
A: I assure you, you are not “unhirable.” I wish you had mentioned how long you have been job searching. In the current business environment, it is not unusual for a professional candidate to be looking for work for 8 months or longer. The fact that you are a mature worker makes this process a little more complicated. In a good economy, it can take a professional mature worker six months or longer to find work. In a down economy - and this is certainly as down as we have seen in many years - it is possible that it might take a professional mature worker two or three times as long to find work.
It is also not clear whether you still have your job as a librarian or whether you have left that job. If you are still employed, stay there! You can certainly continue to discreetly search for jobs, but I would urge you to stay where you are unless finances are no problem for you. This is not the business climate to leave a job without having another offer in hand.
Finances drive so many of our job search decisions. If you have enough money saved so that you can be very selective about your next job, good for you. But the majority of us can’t be as choosy. We must be bringing cash into our households so we can meet the bills. Unemployed job seekers are doing all kinds of creative things right now to get a paycheck, learn new skills, and conduct a job search all at the same time. Many job seekers are taking jobs well below their skill level, working second or third shifts, and making other less desirable choices to ensure they can stay afloat. Raiding the 401(k)/403(b) plan should only be done as a very last resort.
I was delighted to hear that you have been conducting informational interviews to learn more about what is required to move into administrative jobs in library science. I am wondering if you are being repeatedly told that in order to get an administrative job in library science, you must have a Ph.D. That is the only reason that you should even consider going back to school for a Ph.D.
Check labor market studies to ensure that library science is an area that has persistent vacancies. Certainly, combining your legal or theology knowledge with library science should give you a nice niche at a law firm or theology institution, or you could work at a public library in one of those areas. However, you don't want to invest time and funds in yet another degree and then find that you cannot find work in the administrative library science field.
I am urging you to consult a career counselor before making any major decisions. I am not at all convinced that investing three more years in education is the right move for you. Sometimes, getting another degree is not the right career move. In order to get a qualified career counselor, consult www.careercounselorsne.org or www.iacmp.org. These two websites provide credentialed career counselors with a wealth of experience. Good luck!
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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