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December 30, 2009


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I trust you are getting paid $45k per year in the family business? Can you continue with this job while doing something part time on the side or just look for a job in your spare time?

I wouldn't recommend quitting before finding another job.


Okay, the key issuse is not to be emotional about the situation. Obviously you are not happy with the familiy buiness and frustrated. Do an inventory of your skills and interests to reveal the director you want to head in. And be postive/excited about the future. Enlist your network of people to help you make the move.

Inventory the skills that you can bring to a new job. Write down what you think your strengths are. Also ask your spouse what you're good at (hope this goes well). You may hear some things about yourself you haven't thought of as strengths. Think about what an 'ideal' job would be for you. In your spare time, go and interview someone doing what you would like to do. Listen carefully and take notes. Don't make any drastic changes but do start learning more about what's out there and how you can transition to a new career.

If you must change a job, I'd suggest Marketing related. Given your 20+ experience in retail, you probably know what consumers really want and what they'll pay for certain products. I think you can make a good living as Marketing Manager for decent consumer-product companies.

I'd also advise you that it's not always about the money. I'm not sure how old your kids are - but instead of saving money for them, teach them about personal finance and let them figure out how to get/save money on their own. It'll pay out far more greater ROI.

I second Mike Hunt's comment---if you're getting paid at the family business right now, you'd be an idiot to quit outright and try something new at the moment.

Haven't you heard? We're in a period of record unemployment. In particular, people with your skill set (ie no particular skills except will and raw talent) are having a very hard time finding any kind of paying work right now.

I recommend that you keep your current job and think your next move through until the economy improves. I also recommend that you figure out what you want to do, and then go get yourself some particular training/skills that you'll need to do it.

Generic skills won't get you very far in life. Anyone can hustle and do sales or marketing, or can do unskilled work in general construction--why not get yourself a skill that makes you more unique? Also, it seems like there is an overabundance of people in these fields already as well as a shrinking market for these types of jobs.

Apprentice yourself to a plumber or carpenter, learn that skilled trade, and then set up shop for yourself. (I know a couple of plumbers---they are both doing very well). Or take computer engineering or programming or electrical engineering classes at a night school and you'll be eligible for many high-paying jobs. Or get into the growing health care field--do a 2 year training program to be a physical therapist or clinical technologist, or go to pharmacy school.

I hate to sound harsh, but here goes:

As a person in management that decides on hiring decisions, I would not extend you an offer based on your post. Your depressed and you admit to have wasted time. I hire people that are positive and can show a pattern of success/achievements. In this job market, I can find MANY people who say they are smart, creative and hard working. You need to stand out amongst other candidates.

When you can show an employer what you can do for them, that is when they will sit up and take notice.

Can you tolerate the service industry, and are you capable of learning about hospitality? A friend was in the same boat: working in a successful family business but very bored with it. He and his wife bought a bed & breakfast in a thriving tourist town on the way to the Grand Canyon. They did well. It's a business that allows you to live in a pretty building just about wherever your heart desires.

On the other hand, it's very hard work. The guy had an MBA and knew how to run a business, plus he made it a point to be active in the local business community. And both members of the couple had excellent skills in working with the public.

To succeed at this, you have to get a positive attitude. JimL has got something: maybe you should consider therapy before jumping the family ship to try something new.

Have you thought about staying at your current job and going back to school or learning a new skill (through classes or on your own?) own or starting a side business that you can grow? Try brushing up on your writing skills, or if you are computer savy, try learning SEO or web design, etc. Don't look at your life as being limited. With your new found desire to do something different with your life, look at the all the possiblitites. I thitnk this time in your life would be a great time to build up your resume and making more professional contacts. Good luck!!

I concur with those who suggest staying at your current job while preparing for the next is best if you can do it.

I will throw out the one job I always recommend to anyone who is looking for a near sure thing and that is going to school to become a pharmacist. I am not sure if you would like the work or the field but I am about as certain as anything that you if you apply yourself in that field you will have no problem finding very good employment anytime in the next 20 years regardless of economy. And the pay is very very high. Takes 5 years of school (not sure if any of your previous schooling can count). You would likely start out making close to 6 figures.

That career may not be what you had in mind or want, but if you think it's possibily for you I recommend researching it. I don't think age is going to be a factor in preventing you from breaking in either. Where as in some fields being a 45 year old rookie might make it difficult to compete with all the young 23 year old grads.

Good luck!

"I hate to sound harsh, but here goes..." wow that's a giving attitude.. one would hope there might be a caring community here, but I guess not. He is searching and reaching out for our support, we need to help him along. Most other posters have been very good at this, but obviously some of us decide to take a mightier than though attitude.. Remember "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

Yea, I would definitely say don't get down on yourself and say you've "wasted 20 years." That time is not wasted... it is time that you have (most likely) built experience and skills in. It's just a matter of how you look at it (your outlook has to remain positive!).

I would take those 20 years and look at how I can parlay them into a decent job (such as what's already been suggested: maybe something in marketing) and possibly a new career or a related career.

And finally, don't stop learning! Reinvent/retrain yourself... be it computer skills, industry knowledge, ect.

Hmm... I just realized, reading through everyone else's comments, they mostly seem to in way or another mention maintaining a positive attitude. Yea, it's important.

I hope whoever asked the original question is reading this.

Get out and meet people in the field you want to pursue. Join professional organizations, attend their meetings and network events. Do your homework and find out who is in the know. Take them to coffee or lunch and ask them what the current problems in their industry are and what problems they foresee in the next five years. Start shaping your persona to solve these problems.

And I agree with the above comments, do not leave your currnt job until you have something lined up.

Oh, and my P.S. If you do not know what you want to do, start asking everyone you know to coffee to talk about their work (buy me a cup of coffee and ask me to talk about me??? is there anything else any of us would rather do?!)


What would you have me do, lie? That is not helping him. This is what it is like in the job world. It is reality. If you think I am being hard on him, just wait until he is sitting in front of a hiring manager during a job interview.

Frankly you were kind to him. Much of the other advice given is good someone who wants/needs/desires to changes jobs, and doesn't quite know how. doesn't sound like he has ever had to look for a job as he went into the family business. most of us know that looking for a new job/career is a full time time job. It has to be approached like a job. And these days, it can be depressing even if you have quality skills.

Unless he changes his attitude (therapy?) he is going to bring his "hang dog" "I'm not worthy" auroa into the interview with him. He needs to evaluate himself first. Somewhere he needs to gain/re-gain self confidence. Otherwise, he will answer each of the above good suggestions with those weasel words: Yes, but... None of us understand his pain.

He spent 20 years getting to where he is, it will take him some time to get out.
I wish him well.

Don't do anything rash and quit your current job without lining up another job first. You've been there 20 years so a little while longer is ok. We can't tell you what to do with your life. You need to decide that for yourself. I could arbitrarily throw out random careers that may or may not suit you but thats a waste of time. I'd look into getting career guidance to figure out what you want to do. That can be as simple as getting a pile of career books from the library. Take stock of your skills and try doing some testing to see where your interests and aptitude lies. I'm not sure why you consider your degree worthless unless it was from a degree mill or something. Even an unaccredited school is still a degree, so it counts for something. You may have management skills given your experience, that could get you into a variety of industries.

I think it is a great idea to look for something in Marketing, but you should also keep the job you h ave while you are looking. Have you given any thought to going back to school for a year or two before leaving the company? Perhaps you could get some education on the new career path under your belt before leaving.

I wonder how old the children are - if they are nearing 18 then you can just tell them they're on their own for college and that gives you a lot more flexibility. But since the LW is 43 they could just as easily all be under 10 years old, which is very different.

I am wondering if the wife works, and if not, maybe she could look for a job? If they are living off 1 salary currently, then she could look for work and once she found something they could live off of, he could be a stay-at-home dad for awhile, which would let him either go back to school or take his time finding something that was really right for him, career-wise.

Though I second those who say this is a tough time to be looking!

I hope someone else hasn't already said this: You've got a ton of marketable skills as you've probably personally helped manage most aspects of the business. You need to quit worrying and start taking action. Complaining over lost time will lose you more time. Get out there and see what interests you. Apply for everything possible that fits your ideals in a job. Work at the family business while you find another job. Make it a goal to spend a few hours a night working to find something better. Keep your spirits up - that crappy job helped raise your family!

If you can stay with the family business and go back to school, A 2 yr nursing degree will start you off at about 45K and go up from there. There are MANY options once in the nuring field you can specialize in and continue upward with the income. As an RN, I can promise, you will never want for a job.

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