Nathan's feeling trapped in a role he fell into. He's creative, enthusiastic and ready to throw himself into a new line of work, but recruiters can't seem to see past the sector he's worked in. How can you make a fresh start, when nobody will give you the opportunity?
What's your career history and current job?
I'm a commmunications manager for a university.
I fell into it, really. After finishing my degree, I didn't know what I wanted to do. Marketing looked vaguely interesting / creative and a job came up at the university. I went for it, got it, and since then have been promoted a couple of times, which has led to my current role.
I do a lot of account management, copy-editing, helping people with filming and photography, and joining up people's requirements with other people internally who can help them.
It's full on, and quite varied.
How do you feel about your work?
I just feel like I'm going to work because I need an income. I don't have a passion for what I do and I don't think I ever really have.
That's been fine as long as it's fitted well around my home life and allowed me to pursue my outside interests, but increasingly, that's not enough, and I've been bringing the stress and frustrations home with me.
I don't find higher education that thrilling an area to work in, probably because I feel so removed from the delivery of the product. And then on a micro level I don't like the fact that I have such a huge amount of work to do that I can't possibly do all of it, so my role has become more about expectation management than about delivering something that I'm proud of.
I feel disappointed in myself, because work is such a big part of my identity. I don't feel proud of what I'm doing. It makes me feel quite low.
I dread going to work on a Monday. I look forward to the weekends, but Sunday evening always rolls round again.
Increasingly, I just don't want to talk about it or think about it. Even looking at getting a new job, or what I could do, just brings to the surface how fed up I am with my current role.
What would you like to be doing instead?
I'd like to do something that I can get really passionate about.
I've had ideas around using my marketing background, perhaps in a marketing position in the hospitality sector, or possibly in something such as events.
I like the idea of being part of delivering something for people, either in their leisure time, or while they're at work (in a way that that makes them feel like they're at leisure).
I have worked previously for the university on the hospitality side. I loved that. There was something appealing about making people feel welcomed, excited and pleased to be somewhere. One idea that I keep coming back to is working with one of the large hotel chains or a big restaurant group. That feels exciting. And not just the marketing / advertising side, but more on the service delivery, where I could get involved in making exciting customer experiences. That would be really important to me.
I'd also love the opportunity to bring a bit of excitement, a bit of theatre, a bit of something 'extra' into things – it would bring out my creative side. I've done a bit of that at work when I've worked with the conferences, catering, events and accommodation side of things at the university. I really fed off the passion and excitement some of the operational staff had for what they were delivering. Outside of work, I've done quite a lot of amateur theatre, and I love that sense of 'putting on a production'.
I think I'd struggle to work by myself, so I like the idea of working in a team of like-minded, creative people, whether that's in a small company or a bigger organisation. I'd enjoy working closely with people but where we're all working on different aspects of the task depending on our particular areas of expertise. Perhaps working for an events, hospitality or marketing agency could be a good fit.
What's the biggest obstacle in your way?
I can't seem to get employers to see past my CV.
I've worked in one sector and for one employer for the whole of my professional life. I think potential employers looking at my CV see that as not terribly appealing and therefore don't consider me employable.
I feel quite embarrassed in some ways that I've only got one employer on my CV. Some people say that it's a good thing as it shows loyalty and commitment, but I feel that ten years in a position is coming across as 'too long'.
And the feedback I'm getting is that I just don't have the relevant experience that employers are looking for.
I've gone for some more junior roles to try to get the experience, but I'm not having any success that way either. It feels like recruiters only want fresh, young graduates, straight out of university.
I've tried tailoring my CV and my applications, to focus on my skills and to emphasise the events and hospitality experience that I've got. I've tried widening the search, beyond the dream companies I'd like to work with, though I'm also wary of ending up somewhere that's equally poor fit, out of sheer desperation.
It's so frustrating, I can tick every box on a job description that I find exciting, but as soon as people see that my experience is solely in the university world, they become blind to the fact that it's also easily transferable. I'm getting pigeonholed into the public sector, which is somewhere I don't want to be. I think it's seen as dull, not competitive or cutting edge, and while I'm not sure that's always true, I can totally understand why others might see it like that.
There's definitely a little voice in my head saying that nothing's ever going to change; that I've wasted my valuable early career years, where a lot of people try different things, because I fell into a role and got comfortable; that employers are always going to see me as a bit boring and uninspiring.
I guess it's the old experience Catch-22. I haven't had an exciting role in an appealing industry, therefore nobody in those industries will consider me for those roles.
How do I find an employer who's willing to take a chance on me?
Can you help Nathan?
- Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
- How do you think Nathan could move his shift forwards?
- Do you know anyone he could talk to?
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