Author Topic: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?  (Read 2200 times)

Peradur

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Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« on: February 10, 2020, 03:53:38 PM »
I would love any advice or thoughts you could offer on the below situation.  I'm stuck and I'd love to get some outside perspectives on my situation. 
I just don't feel comfortable talking to anyone about this in my personal life.  I'd be happy to elaborate or provide more info.  Thanks in advance for reading.  Here goes:

I am 33 years old and work as a recruiter with a small recruiting company in northern NJ.  I have the best boss you could ask for, but I don't think I'll be able to retire here, because the business is very much a product of my boss's personal connections, which I think will start to dissipate in the coming years as my boss nears retirement (maybe 10 years at most).  In addition, because of the size of the company there really are just two positions, recruiter and owner, so I can't really get promoted into a higher-paying role.  Finally, I suppose there could be the option of succeeding my boss as owner, but that is obviously no sure thing, and for what it's worth, I don't really want to do that (that's based on 10 years working here -- again, love my boss, just not sure this is the field I want to be in).

So, based on the preceding paragraph, I think I'm going to need to find a new place of work in the next few years, both because I want to increase my income and because circumstances may force my hand.  The easy option might be seeking another recruiting job, but my concern is I don't really know what recruiting is.  I know for a fact we don't use many of the basic technologies used by our competitors, and frankly, in addition to recruiting, I do a lot of non-recruiting tasks here (QuickBooks, applying for the company's worker's comp, scheduling maintenance) such that I'd have a lot to learn anywhere else, and they might, justifiably, offer me LESS than what I currently make.  My last reservation about recruiting somewhere else is that I feel very uneasy not knowing a "hard skill".  I don't really know how to do anything you need to go to school for, so if I were to lose my job I think I'd have a VERY hard time finding another, particularly in a downturn.  I remember a few years back I'd routinely meet middle-aged people applying for entry-level jobs after being laid off, and the common thread was that they were all liberal arts grads working random jobs in offices.  It was so easy for their employers to automate their job away or replace them with a fresh-faced college kid for half the money that they did just that when the market crashed.  I really don't ever want to be in that situation.

I'm wondering if I should go back to school.  As a Political Science grad (yikes!), it would seem I'd have a long road to hoe if I went back to college, as any good ROI degree would require all new pre-reqs in addition to the more advanced classes.  Not trying to be a wuss about it, but also not trying to spend additional years and dollars if there's a better way.

As an alternative I've looked at IT.  Programming seems like it has a good future, and I like the sound of ~$20K for a bootcamp and 6-10 months of time compared to what I'd need to do to get a second bachelor's.

If it helps, my goal for increasing my income in the long run is getting married and having kids.  I know people say 33 isn't that old, but I really don't want to just be getting started with a family much later than now.  But maybe I just missed the boat in that department and need to find a new purpose in life.

Some background if it helps:

Single, never married, no kids
Currently take home $868/week. 
Spend $650/week all in (that includes rent, health insurance, etc.)  I'm new to the site and am prepared to be hammered on that number lol - I'll gladly take the advice
Have ~$70K in savings and checking accounts
Have ~$19K in IRA (my job doesn't have a 401(k)
No debt
Car situation: my job pays for my gas, I pay for everything else.  I own it outright and it's probably worth $7K.

seemsright

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2020, 04:12:27 PM »
I may be way out of the box with my opinion but here it goes.

I want you to write down every skill your job has given you.

I want you to write down every skill your degree gave you.

I do not think going back to school is the wise move. I think with some work you can get a job with ease that doubles your income. You have a liberal arts degree, you know how to write, how to deal with people and how to interpret information. And being a recruiter you know how to juggle things. Look into documentation, project coordination, buying, etc. Once you have your skills listed you might have some other ideas.

Hell I FIRED at the age of 31 with a degree in Art and a job as a buyer. If I can do it anyone can. Going back to school is what society says you should do...because STEM degree are valuable per society but Liberal Art degrees are just as important, that book you are reading...Liberal Arts, that movie you saw, Liberal Arts, that painting in the hall way, Liberal Arts, that soup can in your pantry Liberal Arts.

Use what you have to get to your goals.


Villanelle

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2020, 04:28:01 PM »
It seems like you don't dislike recruiting. Given that,  I would aggressively pursue anything that would help beef up my recruiting resume.  Take certificate courses (and perhaps see if your employer would be willing to pay for them or at least split the cost, and/or give you paid time to go take them if they are in-person), find online coursework that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and start developing mentor relationships.

This would all be faster and less expensive than a second bachelor's.  And it's more likely to get you a well-paying job because it's specialized, whereas a bachelor's degree is not.  The programming boot camp is also expensive, and it's kind of wastes the experience you do have.  You'd be starting over from scratch, whereas with recruiting you have experience, and that's valuable and differentiates you from every 21 year old seeking an entry level job after college. 

mspym

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2020, 07:02:16 PM »
If you don't hate being a recruiter why not talk to your boss about what your next steps should be? Pitch it as learning how to add more value to their business.

Otherwise I second the idea of working out all the skills you have from your degree and your work and then use some of your expertise to work out what jobs you could be doing. Heck, you work in recruitment. You should be able to look at a resume (yours for ex) and know where and what you can pitch this for.

Anecdata, I have turned a degree in history and 3 years on an IT help desk into a 15 year career in IT projects. You don't have to go the programming route unless you find that interesting. There are so many other options - I am (currently) a business analyst which means I get paid a lot to be super nosy and learn how people and systems work. Your version of fun may differ.

Laura33

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2020, 09:05:03 PM »
First, you are massively undervaluing yourself.  The reality is that your degree and your hard skills get you your first job, but it's all the soft skills you learn in that first job that get you every job after that.  Communication, planning, managing projects, meeting deadlines, even things like the unwritten rules of the workplace -- basically, figuring out how to get shit done.

Second:  if you can sell, you will always have a job.  Always.  You know who gets laid off in recessions?  People who cost the company money.  You know who doesn't get laid off in recessions?  People who bring in money.* 

You think of yourself as a skill-limited recruiter.  Dude:  you're a salesman.  That's what a recruiter is: selling potential employees on potential employers; selling potential employers on potential employees; selling potential employers on your company and skills to persuade them to hire you in the first place; etc.  If you've done it successfully for ten years, you've mastered the art of persuasion to no small degree.

So, first, I agree that you should talk to your boss about your career path and his own plans.  If you decided you wanted to stay, what would you want?  Sell him on that vision.

But if you don't want to be a recruiter, where else could you use those skills for something you're more interested in?  Selling doesn't mean working at a used-car lot or making 500 cold calls a day, btw.  It can also mean, say, going to work for a university or nonprofit in the development office to build relationships with potential donors and raise money to do things you care about.  Think that sounds like a $30K/yr job?  It can be.  But I also know someone who turned a few years' of development experience into her own company advising nonprofits on how to run those sorts of campaigns, and who is consistently making $300K+/yr. 

And that's just one option.  You have the skills.  You are limited only by your imagination.

BTW:  if you decide you need a degree to get in somewhere, the degree you want is an MBA.  And if that is of interest, you should see if your current employer will allow you to take classes part-time while still working so you keep your costs and don't have to take out massive loans.

*And yes, the former category includes engineers and other "valuable" STEM majors.  BTDT for 6 long, annoying years and three states.  You know who didn't get laid off in that recession?  The business guys back at HQ.

Moonwaves

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2020, 01:38:27 AM »
Have you read all the posts in the blog? If not, you should do so and at the very least, please read The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement.

You have maybe ten years before your boss wants to retire so you have time to not just re-skill/up-skill, you have time to get well on the way to FIRE, so that even if you're not FI by the time you need a new job, you might be able to just get a part-time job or a less well-paying job that you think might be fun.

Apart from saving and investing, the other important part of the puzzle is spending. You might consider writing a full case study (here's a thread on how to write a case study) and seeing if people can come up with suggestions for potential changes you could make, if you decide to go all in on following the road to FIRE.

mistymoney

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2020, 07:59:15 AM »
Talk to boss about the future plans the the biz/their role. Who will replace, how will that person be prepped to step into those shoes?

Could it be you? What steps to take now?

acepedro45

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2020, 08:32:16 AM »
Quote
I know for a fact we don't use many of the basic technologies used by our competitors, and frankly, in addition to recruiting, I do a lot of non-recruiting tasks here (QuickBooks, applying for the company's worker's comp, scheduling maintenance) such that I'd have a lot to learn anywhere else, and they might, justifiably, offer me LESS than what I currently make.

This jumped out at me. No.

The "basic technology" is the tail. The dog is knowing how to effectively network and work with job candidates. The administrative experience running a small business makes you sound more valuable to me, not less.

I will echo what others have said. Your writing is effective and clear (if self-flagellating). You don't sound much like a stuck loser with no options to me.

LifeHappens

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2020, 09:06:26 AM »
You think of yourself as a skill-limited recruiter.  Dude:  you're a salesman. 
This was my first thought as well. You have a very valuable skillset. Don't sell yourself short.

I'm batsignaling @2Birds1Stone because he turned his sales skill into a very lucrative career and is now getting ready to travel the world with his wife. He's also very busy, so if he doesn't respond here, check out his journal https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/phase-two-transitioning-from-ft-work-gt-vagabonding-on-shoestring-budget/

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2020, 09:28:48 AM »
Thanks for the batsignal, @LifeHappens.

I agree with many of the posters above. You sound like you have a resume that can be tilted to find a number of different jobs that could leverage your natural skillset. If you plan on actually working 10+ years, the most important thing will be finding something you enjoy and won't feel like work once you skill up and execute.

Decent recruiters who self employ/work contract can easily make $100k+ in the NYC area. Even the top 25% of recruiters in firms like Robert Half/TekSystems will probably clear $200k. If you could spend a year learning what you needed to know to successfully recruit in the IT/Financial Services spaces the retirement goal could be reach much quicker, so long as recruiting is something you want to make your career.

My background is in software sales. Enterprise and SaaS sales people typically start in the $120k OTE range in NYC for inside sales positions, and $200-250k OTE for outside positions (which typically take 2-4 years to work up to). The OTE is typically split 50% base and 50% commission earned at 100% sales plan. There are 1474 large software companies across many different niches. Most offer remote positions in those pay ranges. If you have no background in software at all, but can sell yourself, there is a shot at getting into these companies directly as an Inside Sales rep. Some may require you to join as a BDR  or SDR, which is a more Jr. position responsible for more of the lead gen/qualification, and sales/marketing support duties, but it's a great way to learn the business and company messaging, after which you can parlay into sales. I've helped a few friends do this and many are now $250k/yr earners (50% of them WFH).

Hope that helps you OP, or anyone else that is looking at something that may not even require ANY college.

wellactually

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2020, 09:51:26 AM »
As an alternative to what's already been mentioned, I think it sounds like most of your duties also fall into many HR roles. Even bookkeeper/HR administrator.

What parts of your job do you really enjoy? What parts would you prefer to do less of? If you like the recruitment/sales side, by all means look into training or certifications. If you like the administrative stuff or HR stuff, learn more about those and pursue training or certs there.

I'm a math education grad who works in public communications & events. I get it. I had a lot of graphic design knowledge that was self-taught. I took a look at what kinds of jobs I would like and what was available in my community, then I looked at what was on my resume. I asked how I could highlight the parts of my resume that fit who I wanted to be. For example, I've always done email newsletters every where I worked, but it wasn't a huge part of those past jobs. I even pushed to start one at my previous job and kept track of open and click statistics. Then I had something to highlight on the resume which was super relevant to my current position. Where there were holes, I did a ton of free online courses which I kept track of from Udemy and brainmeasures and elsewhere.

You know what good resumes look like. Think about the story you want to tell about yourself and figure out what's missing to make it a solid line.

I don't think you need to go back to school. I certainly wouldn't recommend unless you've got a clear and passionate idea about what you want to do. If you think you might have an interest in programming, look for some free options for exploring that to see if you have the aptitude and desire to do more.

affordablehousing

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2020, 10:59:25 AM »
I think you have a lot of options in front of you. I have two friends who were both in your situation, one slightly younger, one older. The younger one tested the waters asking for a raise, got a lot of pushback and a small raise, and that convinced her to get motivated and start her own competing firm. The older person was very business minded but more passive, assumed he'd be taking the business over, and when the time came the owner turned on him, gave him onerous terms, and my friend quit and started consulting in the same field. Different "fields" but the same fields, essentially sales with a small particular knowledge set. Both friends have succeeded.

As others have said, the fungible skill here is people and sales skills. Only you know how much entrepreneurial savvy you want to take on and how much you want to determine your own income. Coding camp would be a complete departure and I don't quite know how to advise there. recognize that any transition would be hard, it's like leaving a parent for your own adulthood.

Peradur

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2020, 08:53:18 PM »
Thanks everyone for your responses!  It was so helpful to get these thoughts out of my head and read your responses to them.  I am considering all of the points you made; they'll be invaluable in making my next move.

@seemsright Thanks for the idea of writing down the skills I've gained from my job and degree.  I didn't think doubling my income would be possible in my current field; that would be amazing.  And congratulations on FIREing that young!  That is amazing.

@Villanelle  Great point about wasting my current experience, and not out of any real necessity.

@mspym Thanks for the idea, I do think my boss would be receptive to a conversation like that.  Where it goes from there, we'll see.

@Laura33 That was an interesting way of putting it regarding soft and hard skills, and you anticipated a lot of my reactions in your response (used-car salesman, nonprofit examples), so thanks for that thoughtful answer!

@Moonwaves I've just started reading this blog and plan on familiarizing myself with FIRE.  Thanks for the link and case study tip, I'll be looking into both.

@mistymoney Thanks, I've started thinking about what my "pitch" will be.

@acepedro45 and @LifeHappens I appreciate the kind words, thank you both.  Maybe because I've never talked to anyone about the ideas in the post, they never received the proper scrutiny.  I would never stand for someone else calling me a loser, but you know, I guess that's what I've been doing to myself.  I'm going to stop doing that.

@2Birds1Stone Thanks for that detailed information.  I have a number decisions to make regarding whether I'll stay in my current company, or industry, but I'll definitely be researching recruiting in IT/Financial or transitioning to a different type of sales role like some of those you outlined.  I'll also be adding your journal to my reading list as per @LifeHappens 's recommendation.

@wellactually Thanks.  I agree, it probably makes sense to see to what degree I can maximize my current career before looking elsewhere.  Even if I need to gets some certs, as you mention, that's a lot less expensive than school.

@affordablehousing Thanks for the advice and the stories about your friends.  Sounds like the more important thing in their success was that they both worked hard and were good at what they did, not either one pursued the "perfect" career strategy.

Lucky13

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2020, 09:13:06 PM »
As an alternative I've looked at IT.  Programming seems like it has a good future, and I like the sound of ~$20K for a bootcamp and 6-10 months of time compared to what I'd need to do to get a second bachelor's.
You know what else all these expanding tech/IT companies need, besides programmers? RECRUITERS! If you have a genuine interest in programming (in addition to liking the speed of qualifying for the new career that you mentioned above)  you could consider becoming a Technical Recruiter. 

Zikoris

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2020, 10:24:44 PM »
I'm really surprised you don't mention anything about FIRE, and nobody's asking you about it, because isn't that kind of a big deal given that this is a FIRE community? It seems as though everyone answering is assuming a full length working career, which is really strange given where we are. So here are some FIRE factors to ponder.

Do you want to retire early? If so, what kind of timeline are you looking at? That's a HUGE factor if you're considering going back to school. Five year timeline, probably not worth it unless you find some very short program that leads to something super lucrative. Twenty year timeline, different story.

If you don't want to retire early, are you looking to cut back on working or move somewhere else or do any other big life changes once you reach FI? That's a huge factor in choosing a long term career path, because not every career route scales well, and many career routes are location-specific.

Of course, if you're looking to just work a normal length career and retire at 65, ignore all of the above.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Would anyone like to help me figure my life out?
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2020, 02:26:11 AM »
You mention being worried about unemployment in a downturn - but you have over two years living expenses in savings ( not to mention unemployment benefits) so really you’re pretty safe.

You also mentioned wanting marriage and kids. I’ll ask you some hard questions about that.

Do you REALLY want kids? I ask because many women who “forget” to have kids and then find themselves desperate to have them in their 40’s, never really wanted them badly enough to make them a priority. If having a biological child is a huge priority to you ( as in not having a biological child would leave a giant gaping wound in your heart) then you should be trying to get pregnant now, from a purely physiological standpoint.

If having your own biological child is not a priority and you would be just as happy adopting or raising stepchildren then there’s not such a rush.

If marriage is a priority, then are you doing the work of dating? It takes work to find the right partner, to make and go on dates, and to work on your issues so you can pick a good spouse and BE a good spouse. Is anything holding  you back from that? Or is “marriage and child” just an assumption you grew up with that isn’t really that important to you now?