Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Career Opportunities

The ones that never knock? One of the things they suggest you do if you're looking for a job is to blog about your job search. But how do you do that and not cause your readers to want to gouge their eyes out? Unless your readers are only made up of other people looking for jobs and then it turns into a big misery fest. So after today I'm not going to write very much about the job search. There's not much to write about anyway because there simply is no work in my field. While unemployment in Colorado is something over 7% it's more like 16-17% in the construction industry. If you factor out the stimulus/infrastructure projects which don't help me it's probably way worse. I can't hang out a shingle and start my own business because here's the stupid thing about my profession, it's loaded with liability and you don't get paid very well. I can't just take on casual side work, I need liability insurance and I also need to form some sort of corporation to protect my personal assets, such as they are. The cost of the insurance is huge and the fees I can collect on the few small projects that may be available would probably barely cover it. And if I start a corporation then I lose my unemployment and there isn't enough work out there for me to start a business right now, at least not in engineering. Now if I want to go to the Middle East or some war torn place there are plenty of opportunities. Riyadh, Dubai, Afghanistan anyone? They're all booming. I even saw a job in Antarctica working for Raytheon. Can it get any dreamier? I'll bet I could get a house for cheap in Kabol though.

So for now I've come to terms with the notion that I may need to abandon my profession, at least for the next few years if not forever. Hard to let go of 20 years of education and experience but no point in clinging to a dead profession. I'm still looking and applying for things, you never know what sort of opportunity may present itself but I can't sit around waiting for the unemployment to run out. My plan for now is to see if I can take on some pet dog training clients. Not sure what sort of market there is for people who want private training in their homes or on the trails but I can only take on 2 clients per week and still keep my unemployment anyway so it's worth a shot and gives me something productive to do other than hobbies to keep my sanity. If it turns out there's a decent market and I can build up a client base then maybe I turn into a dog trainer for a living. I don't like the idea of hobbies for a job but it's a skill I have and I really enjoy teaching so I guess I give it a go and see what happens. The nice thing about it is that I don't need to go back to school or get any sort of certification. I've looked into it and there are some certifications you can get but I'm not sure they mean anything to the average pet owner. They all look pretty Mickey Mouse anyway except for maybe the CPDT-KA and I'm supposing that if I can pass the licensing exam to be a Professional Engineer that I can pass the dog training exam without busting my brains too heavily. The sample exam they gave on the website was pretty easy anyway. I've substitute taught pet dog training for a friend when she couldn't make her class and she wanted me to take the class over for her permanently but at the time I was too busy. I've also taught math/science on a volunteer basis to people trying to get their GED and that went really well so at least I know I like teaching and I can do it. There's always a learning curve when taking on something like this but I don't feel like the idea is too far-fetched and at this point I have nothing to lose.

I should be back to blogging more regularly. I was surprisingly busy this past month and the trip to Chicago threw a monkey wrench into what little of a schedule that I'd developed for myself. Even the poor dogs have been neglected but we're getting back on track with their exercise/training schedule. They say that looking for a job is a full time job in itself and this is certainly true. The internet and all the information that it makes available is a double-edged sword. And some of those online job applications, especially through the federal government, can take 2 hours to fill out. I've had a few that wanted not only month and year but the actual day for date of employment, degrees, etc. Crazy. Who keeps track of the specific day they were hired for a job 20 years ago? And you want to know how many semester hours I completed for my Bachelor's Degree and my GPA? Really? I've got 20 years of experience, a Master's Degree, a Professional Engineering license and you still need to know the driver's license number of the boy who took me to prom in high school? I wonder what happens in a good economy when any good candidate with half a brain takes a look at these applications and says who wants to work for a place this screwed up? But such is not my luxury now so I've spent the required hours to gather all the goofy information and answer the pages and pages and hours of questions. But I've got a system more or less dialed in now and these things are taking less time so I should be back to the blogging and training.


  1. Hi Elayne,
    Sorry to here that the job market sucks for you. I work in software for the construction industry and we are starting to see some uptick in customers and projects...

    On the dog training front you probably want to consider some insurance and even setup an LLC/Corp (don't know the laws in CO) to protect your personal assets in the event of a student suing you (I've talked with enough trainers that it actually happens...sigh). Another option is to have a local trainer hire you and then as an employee you'd be covered by their insurance.

    As far as certifications, I'd think word of mouth recommendations are more important than a certification. At least in the agility training world around here. But if it was easy to earn one or more it could help with acceptance by people who don't know you.

    Best Regards,

  2. I was talking to an engineering recruiter in my field yesterday and she said she's starting to see things picking up in other areas of the country but that Colorado is 'dead' (her words). The only people hiring want really out of the ordinary, specific, specialized skills.

    If I start an official dog training business I'd do an LLC and get some insurance for sure, especially if I was doing groups classes. But I can't do that and collect unemployment and I don't want to start an official business until I'm sure of the market and that I'll enjoy it. Right now I'm thinking of doing private lessons in people's homes just twice a week and though anybody can sue you at anytime for anything I'm thinking the risk in that scenario is low. I'm not going to take on any severe aggression cases, just basic obedience.

    It's also my feeling that word of mouth is way more important than a certification. When I look for trainers I don't care about those pieces of paper. You need to work 300 hours anyway before they'll let you take the test. But I imagine it's easy enough to get and may give some people the impression that I know what I'm doing.

  3. Sorry to hear and good luck in your ventures

  4. Well, thank you for your kind words.