WorkWise Q&A: Can dead end gigs lead me down a career path?

culp@workwise.netJanuary 6, 2013 


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve been living a double life. I play in a band, which I love, and do temp work during the day. If you could see all of the jobs I’ve had, you’d think I’m good at job hunting. But I wouldn’t go back to a single one of them, because they’re dead ends.

I’ve sorted stock in a warehouse, waited tables, worked in customer call centers, sold at department stores and developed a new filing system. I’ve also answered telephones. Some of the jobs I’ve had were in industries I found boring.

I’d like to job hunt now that the holiday parties are over. Where should I start?


A: Dear Drummer, That long list of dead end gigs might come in handy. Think about each one individually. What did you like about it – industry, company, mission, environment, size, product or service, functions you observed others tackling or people, such as co-workers, supervisors, customers or vendors?

Organize the different pieces from all of the jobs. You might have headings such as industry, company characteristics, products/service and people. Imagine a company that would have most of them. Find one. Research its competitors to find your channel.



Q: Dear Dr. Culp, A friend told me to email you about a problem I’m having in my job search. I’ve never asked a question through a newspaper and I don’t know what to say.


A: Dear Striving, Writing a newspaper isn’t much different from writing another outlet. Start by being clear about your question. Know exactly what question you want answered.

Ask yourself what background information the recipient needs to understand your question. Be careful, though. Weighing an email down with countless details could create confusion. A question you didn’t mean to be answered might be.

Protect yourself by not specifying the names of companies, people you’re discussing or geographical locations. Instead, mention types of companies or industries, and either regions of the country or sizes of areas, such as small town or major metro area. Give the people fake names or leave them anonymous by referring to their relationship to you or function in a company.

When emailing a newspaper, expect your writing to be edited or printed in full. Make certain you don’t include anything you don’t want to appear in the paper. It may also live in the ether for others to read.


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