Career Opportunities in a Bad Economy

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Today I ran into a woman whose husband used to work with me at a hotel in our area. She also had a career in hospitality, but through a series of cutbacks and job eliminations, she had to make some changes. She now works for one of the largest national insurance/finance companies selling personal life insurance, and felt she had found her true calling. How she got there could be told by many who have experienced the misfortunes of our down economy.

Out of a job, she searched the job market and found an opportunity as an Executive Administrative Assistant. At this level, her degree in accounting was a plus and helped her land a job with a higher level of responsibility. Finding a job in the financial services industry was another “fit,” and though it wasn’t in a field she was initially interested in, she was happy to have the job until another one came her way.

Sometimes we are so focused on what we think we want that we are not able to see the opportunities in front of us. After a couple of years in her admin position, she felt comfortable with the company and realized that regardless of their position or title, employees all had an insurance license. So, she took on that challenge and got her license as well, not because she aspired to a sales position, but because she wanted to achieve a level of professionalism shared by her co-workers.

Then, the light went on. As if awaking from a dream, it was apparent that there were many profitable and challenging career opportunities right where she was. It would take leaving the comfort of her current position, but she had the advantage of visibility, credentials and a reputation as a professional built by working for all the staff in her admin position.

I once worked as a career transition coach, helping individuals who had lost their jobs for a number of reasons. One woman I worked with told me that getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to her. She hated her job, but hung on to it out of fear of the unknown and the security of a paycheck every two weeks. You can look at a job loss as a tragedy or an opportunity. Sometimes it takes being uprooted to see that you aren’t planted in the right place at all. My friend today, like this woman years ago, found themselves not at an end but at a beginning. All it takes sometimes is a shift in perspective to see the possibilities.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a freelance writer, blogger, and workplace consultant. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in "Training" magazine, "Training & Development" magazine, "Supervision," "Pulse" and "The Savannah Morning News." You can read her blogs at, and on the web at

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