When to Take a Chance

July 22, 2010 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Often, those who have lost their jobs are told by well-meaning folks that this is a time of opportunity. And though you may want to throw something at them after hearing this advice  — sure, it’s an opportunity to send out tons of resumes and be rejected tons of times! — there is something to this. When the job you used to have — and perhaps, let’s be honest here, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be much of the time — no longer exists, it’s often a good time to start looking at taking a chance on doing the kind of work you’d really like to do.

And therein lies the opportunity. Most of us had dreams, sometimes many years ago and for new grads, just last week, of doing a certain kind of  work we really enjoy or toiling away for an organization doing something meaningful. Then, often, life — spouses, kids, mortgages, college tuition, caring for elderly parents — gets in the way and we comfortably settle into jobs that pay the bills and help us establish a career path. Yet when a roadblock is thrown in front of that path it can be a good time to take a chance on reviving a career goal that we may have lost along the way.

You can’t always do this — those mouths to feed and bills to pay often demand that job seekers find something soon in D.C., and realism prevails. Yet sometimes, just sometimes, a job hunter can gamble a bit on fulfilling their broader career goals and ambitions. Here is when to consider taking that chance:

*When you can afford to do so. Many mid-career professionals lament, for example, that they didn’t head overseas to become a foreign correspondent or a diplomat when they were just out of school and not tied down to a big mortgage. If you’re young and don’t have many bills (and especially if your parents or other relatives may help you foot the bill for a while) this may be a perfect time to take a chance — especially if you need to move to do so — on doing the kind of work you want. And this experience may be just what you need to distinguish yourself from other job seekers in the future. One woman I know, after a layoff, decided that rather than try to beat the competition in D.C. for a reporting job she would live with her parents for a while to save money and then, after some introductions others were happy to provide, head to the Middle East offering her skills as a foreign correspondent. And that’s what she’s doing right now. Another young man I know badly wants to work in D.C. as a political journalist; so, with some savings and backing from his family, has come here without a  job and has found enough free-lance and contract work to finance his search. A few years from now neither of them could likely “afford” to pick up and move in search of desired work, but now is the right time for them.

*When you don’t have much to lose. Hence, the advice to those who just got laid off or took a buyout that this is a time of opportunity. Or as investment advisers say: Weigh the downside risk of a possible investment against its upside potential. If your job is behind you and you don’t have a lot of near-term possibilities in your field, that’s a good time to take a chance on something else that could be lucrative — financially or otherwise — going forward.

*When there’s a good likelihood of a payoff. Even when you’re taking a chance, you should be clear-eyed about whether the time, energy and money you’re spending to head in a new direction will likely enhance your future career possibilities. Several journalists I know who decided to get out of the business in recent years and head to grad school did a great deal of research before making that commitment — one, for instance, is finishing up an environmental studies program (teaming that with her environmental reporting background) and another is pursuing an MBA with a focus on fund-raising and giving. They both loved journalism but determined that they really wanted to do something else and so decided to take a chance but a targeted one that would give them possibilities in fields predicted to flourish in coming years. Especially for those considering a commitment to more (often expensive) schooling, it’s important to figure out whether this likely will pay off in terms of job opportunities. Always ask: If I take this chance, how might it pay off? Even if I can afford the cost, will it be worth it going forward?

*Here’s a link to some great advice from glassdoor.com for those wrapping up their summer internships or looking to embark on a fall program….And it’s a time-honored tradition in Washington to hire, where there are openings, the best of the internship class for full-time, entry-level jobs upon their graduation. Many D.C. journalists and Hill elite started off as interns. And even organizations that say they don’t typically hire interns sometimes will find a place for those who really stand out:

Turn Your Internship Into A Full-Time Job

*Also, while late July and August in D.C. is a relatively slow period for hiring in general (though I know of several people who had key interviews this very week — good luck to you all!), the “dog days” of summer is the time when organizations are busily selecting their fall interns. If your organization — or one you know about — is looking for fall interns, please send along a description so I can include it in the dcworks leads in coming weeks.

*And now, for some fresh job leads, focused today on communications positions:

*United Way Worldwide in Alexandria is looking for a director of strategic communications:

Director, Strategic Communications – USA
United Way Worldwide – Alexandria, VA
USA Communications Council to ensure communicationscommunications metrics/goals. Must be a strong writer/editor, and an effective communications consultant…
From Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

*The Primary Group has an opening in Alexandria for a director of marketing communications:

Director of Marketing Communications
The Primary Group – Alexandria, VA
a Director of Marketing Communications to develop marketing communications and strategic programs based on… management marketing communications in a retail…
From The Primary Group

*AED in D.C. has an opening for a senior VP and director of communications:

Senior Vice President and Director, Communications, AED President’s Office
AED – Washington, DC
Senior Vice President for Communications is responsible for all external communications activities, including developing communications strategy, managing brand…
From AED

*A software company in Arlington is looking for a senior manager of corporate communications:
Sr Manager, Corporate Communications
Arlington, VA
Sr Manager, Corporate Communications Our client is a… Manager of Corporate Communications. The Senior Manager of Corporate Communications will be responsible… $100,000 – $115,000 a year
From CareerBuilder

*Time Warner has an opening in D.C. for a VP of global policy; a strong media/communications/policy background is desired:

Vice President, Global Policy
TimeWarner Corporate – Washington, DC
in government, law firms and/or corporations. – Background in media/communications policy is strongly preferred. – Must have a successful track record in…
From Time Warner

*The FBI has an opening in D.C. for a writer focused on “printed” media:

Writer (Printed Media)
Federal Bureau of Investigation – Washington, DC
Branch: National Security Branch Section: NSB Executive Staff Unit: Communications and Administration Unit Location: Washington, DC Working Hours : 8:00 AM… $89,033 – $115,742 a year
From Federal Bureau of Investigation

*With a hat tip to mediabistro.com for this lead, Americans for the Arts has an opening in its D.C. office for a press and media relations manager; sounds like it could be a fun job for an arts lover:

Americans for the Arts is looking for a press and media relations manager to promote the non-profit’s events, activities and products from its D.C. office.

You’ll be handling handling day-to-day media relations for the organization, including developing stories, pitching and placing content and building relationships with key reporters. You should also brush up on your social media skills as you’ll be collaborating with the marketing, communications and tech departments to develop online strategies for the org.

Three to five years of editorial or media relations experience, coupled with top-notch written and oral communications skills will put you on par with other candidates vying for this position. Show the organization that you can whip up superior press releases and op-ed pieces and you could set yourself apart from the rest. Interested? Apply here.

*And to wrap up today’s leads, Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates in D.C. is looking for mid- and senior-level communications associates:

Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates, a boutique, Washington, D.C.-based communications firm, serves a range of clients – from Fortune 100 corporations to high-profile individuals, from foreign governments and international organizations to trade associations and non-profits. Some need to protect their reputations from intense threats. Others are trying to shape new laws. Our professionals use their experience, creativity – and often attitudinal research — to craft the messages and strategies needed to meet these objectives.

If that sounds like fun, we invite you to apply for one of our mid- or senior-level positions. Ideal candidates should have 4+ years experience (8+ for senior positions) in public affairs, corporate and/or crisis communications, political campaigns or on Capitol Hill. Experience in the media, a PR agency, or in a communications capacity at a company, association or non-profit is also desirable. Strategic-minded, energetic professionals with superior writing skills and a passion for communications are encouraged to apply. Fluency in Spanish required for some positions.

Email your resume and cover letter to mamd@clsdc.com. For more information, visit www.clsdc.com.

Happy hunting!!

Jodi

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Why Job Shifts Look Good on a Resume These Days When You’ve Been Out of the Market

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