27 November, 2006

Job Search Clarification, part 1

A number of people on and off-line have been giving me increasing amounts of good advice about my job search. I've realized that I've hinted here at times about what I'm looking for, but I've never quite laid it all out here. So, here goes (background first)...

I long thought I wanted to be a music teacher and I worked my butt off to reach that dream, including receiving an undergraduate and a master's degree from Indiana University. In recent years I discovered that my passion for teaching music to young children was poorly placed, as that career is being slowly strangled in America. But this spring I stepped out on a new dream, one that is going to take time to realize.

My ultimate dream, now? Something similar to the job I applied for this spring: a position that involved monitoring, researching (through interviews, etc.), and synthesizing the issues facing military families, brainstorming solutions, and working with both military leadership and lawmakers to address the identified issues or needs. It would've admittedly been a growth position for me, but I and others in the field believed I could've done it.

Obviously, someone else got the job (like I said, it was a stretch for me). But I've kept dreaming. And people associated with Valour-IT keep telling me that I've demonstrated the skills and knowledge to break into the field of military-related NGOs, etc, through my work on Valour.-IT

The big issue is that paid positions in this field are few and far between. The best way in is unfortunately starting at the bottom--in unpaid positions. Which is what I have been doing at the USO and the SYMCA. This preparation has also been supplemented by my local networking in the military community. But so far, little has turned up. The best thing that I've seen is a part-time position with a respected military-affiliated charity that I'm waiting to hear about.

So in the meantime, I need to pay my bills. My non-musical skills are strongest (very strong) in secretarial-type work: I type 95 words per minute (error-free), I score in the "expert" level on typical office software when tested, and I've got extensive experence in customer service, PR, business communication, organization, etc.

Sounds pretty good, huh? Unfortunately, tht's where the "over-qualified" part comes in. People seem to be very nervous about hiring secretaries with master's degrees, no matter how much skill and experience I have in that arena (an extensive amount, since that's how I put myself through my three college degrees: A.A, B.S., and M.A.)...

And then they see all the work I did in project planning, PR and fundraising with Valour-IT and I start hearing things like, "But you'd be so bored being a receptionist." But if I take the Valour-IT work off my resume, all I've got in the last five years is Muisc Teacher, Church Organist, and three months as a volunteer receptionist at the USO. Yeah, that'll get you a second look for a secretarial/admin position. Not!

But hey, an empty resume with some good references could get me a cashier position and that's better than nothing, right? Yup, and I'd last 2 days in a standing-required position on my battered and surgically-enhanced feet that have caused knee and hip-alignment problems.

So, there's the sob story and the likely reasons I'm still unemployed. Next time I'll put up all the things about me that should make me an irresistable hire for both business and charity (haha), in a format that a potential employer might actually pay attention to.