I have a master’s degree and am job searching. I’ve been out of work for two years. No employers in my career will hire me because I don’t have any work experience in the field. Before going back to school I had 10 years of experience in retail management but decided to get my master’s in a new field.
I’m shocked and ANGRY that my past work experience and master’s degree don’t matter to employers. I’m thinking of enrolling in a six-month program so I can work in health care. What do you think my next move should be?
I’ve heard from several people with situations similar to yours – unemployed with a master’s degree and no related work experience.
If you had contacted me while you were in still school I would have advised you to seek out internships and volunteer opportunities before graduation. That’s how you gain experience and find out if the career is a good fit for you.
But hindsight is 20/20, and it doesn’t pay the bills. So, what can you do about your career options today?
>> Related: Q&A: Job Or Grad School? <<
1) STOP spending money on training or other degree programs until you are certain you don’t want to pursue the career that matches your master’s degree. Going to school is NOT the same as job searching. You need to focus on connecting with employers, not getting more debt from student loans.
2) Make looking for a job using the skills you learned in your master’s program your top priority. I’m sure you are already doing this, but look for work at nonprofits with programs in your field. You will likely only be offered lower positions, but you need foot in the door, real-world experience, and a paycheck.
3) Do informational interviews with people in your chosen field. Talk to people working in the fields related to your master’s degree. Also talk to other people who graduated from master’s programs similar to yours and find out how they are using their skills.
Contact people through professional associations, online professional groups, and your networking contacts. Also do informational interviews with people working in health care. Find out if that health care program is a good fit for you before you spend money on tuition.
4) Go back to the university where you earned your master’s to seek career guidance from your former professors and the career services department. No college will guarantee alumni job placement, but part of your tuition paid for career services, so use it. Even if they only have websites or alumni groups to refer you to, it can help.
5) Have a professional in your chosen field critique your resume. The number one reason people don’t get job interviews is because their resume doesn’t fit employer expectations. You might have the skills employers want, but your resume isn’t showing it. Make sure your resume shows you as a professional, not a student.
6) Look for places to volunteer or create internships for yourself. Let the organizations know you are job searching and the time commitment/schedule you can commit to. Any activities in your field will increase your experience, and expand your network.
Hope these suggestions help. You will likely have to (continue to) look for work in any field as you pursue a “real job” related you your master’s degree. That’s OK. Just get focused and make a plan for yourself.
Keep looking up!
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