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February 23, 2012

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He should consider being self-employed. I think he is too stuck on getting the same kind of career as before, for which he is over-age and over-qualified in the eyes of most companies. There are agencies which will place mature executives in companies on short-term assignments but basically I would suggest he try to make a switch.

Easy enough to say, I know...

Is he truly "stuck on getting the same kind of career as before," or simply seeking meaningful work? In my small market there are very few opportunities for experienced communicators and little opportunity for consultants (qualified candidates and consultants outnumber available positions/clients). I've re-tooled to an extent and continue working to find the fabled niche.

He Is not stuck. Chris sounds like a proud and brave man who does not want to give up the fight as so many do. That in its self tells you alot about a person that you dont find anymore. And what is "over-aged"? Because the 20-30 age group that I see on a daily basis alot of them still live at home and use "Mommy and Daddy's" money. Few even work or are going to school. Good luck to the companies that are looking to hire that. Chris keep the fight up!!!!!! I admire what you are doing very much.

"Over-age and over-qualified" is not my assessment but that of many companies. Personally I think they are mistaken but companies are very frequently mistaken and there is nothing much to do about it. And it is surely possible to find meaningful work which is not the same as that one has done to date. I remember a hedge fund manager who quite profitably switched to making chutney. The skills which a communicator uses can easily be transferred to other kinds of work.

PS> There's absolutely nothing to stop him pursuing several career options at the same time- continuing his existing approach but at the same time exploring other, more radical, possibilities.

Along these lines of radical possibilities: Chris, I'd encourage you to think about--as if you haven't already--what the truly enjoyable bits of employee communication actually were, and figure out a way to do that stuff, even if it's for free (maybe even while you're working for the Circle K).

During a time when I thought my freelance work was drying up, my reaction was senseless, yet consistent: "Fuck you world. I write. And I'm going keep writing, whether you pay me to do it or not."

And I did a lot that year for the Huffington Post and poured a ton of energy into this blog. I kept my skin in the game, and my name out there, and eventually when the economy bounced back, opportunities presented themselves.

So whatever you loved doing for employee comms--writing, helping organizations think about comms strategy, whatever--find an organization or a politician or a movement of some kind that needs a volunteer to do it. And kick some serious ass for them. (Just make sure it's a nice liberal cause.)

Chris, thanks for putting your story out and thanks for choosing Writing Boots as the place to do it. I hope you'll agree my thoughtful readers treated you well. So thanks to y'all, too.

The job market stinks. It definitely stinks since 2008, maybe it stank a while before.

David's advice seems best, it's advanced networking. Don't bother applying for jobs you haven't networked your way to, you'll be wasting energy and getting yourself down. 400 applications!! You must've been ready to take a bat to your head.

Your experience is now the norm. Some companies will only hire people who are currently employed. Some will only hire people who live in the same city already, not planning to move. A glut of over-qualified candidates allows companies to hire formerly high-level people for lower level positions - If you were a comms VP, might have to apply for manager positions, if you were manager, for associate or specialist. Anyone else doing comms out of HR seeing recent recruiting restrictions?

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