Thursday, March 15, 2007

Can’t Capture That Dream Job

Finally!! A place where I can not only vent about the difficulties I've had in trying to just start my career-path, but somewhere that someone might just be able to point me in the right direction.

First, let me just say that CareerBuilder and Monster think they can match anyone up with their dream job/career, but they have YET to be able to come close to matching me! I should consider myself lucky, however, since I actually really do know what I love to do and what career I want -- setting me apart from the poor lost souls who don't even know "what they want to be when they grow up" (some at the age of 40+).

You see, I hold a Master of Arts degree in Biopsychology (Biopsy - what?) -- AKA Animal Behavior. I "dropped out" of a Ph.D program and received a Masters degree from them instead, though I like to phrase it a bit differently and say that I "left" the program with my Masters). The degree opened the door to a part time position at the Los Angeles Zoo, in their Research Division. It also allowed me to discover what I really wanted to do with my life; I wanted to be a Zoo Keeper. These days the term/title used is actually "Animal Keeper" in zoos and "Aquarist" or "Biologist" in aquariums.

And I did get to be an Animal Keeper -- very very part time (my actual title was Animal Keeper Part Time As Needed) and only after jumping through hoop after hoop - some hoops twice! One would think that with a Masters degree in Animal Behavior and a bunch of experience working with domestic and exotic animals, that "transitioning" into Animal Care at the same zoo at which I had already been working as a Research Assistant (in the Animal Care dept., none-the-less) would be a no-brainer, sure thing. Well, things outside of Corporate America are a little different, but still have no guarantees.

To make a long story even painfully longer, I waited and waited and interviewed for Full Time work as a Keeper, at several different Southern California zoos, but was never hired.

Having left my entire family here in NJ, only to live in California for almost 10 years, I decided it was time to come home. My husband and I moved back to Cherry Hill, NJ in September of 2006 and just recently bought a house. Again, I am faced with the task of starting over and trying to make that "dream job" a reality; but after so many failed attempts in the past, I don't trust it anymore.

Troubled and not getting any younger,

by John West Hadley, Career Search & Career Enhancement Counselor, “Helping Job Seekers Who Are Frustrated With Their Search”

It’s terrific that you know so specifically what you want to do, and understandably extremely frustrating that you haven’t been able to achieve your goal.

First, examine what you’ve been doing to see if there was anything in your marketing campaign (because that’s exactly what a career search is) that might have held you back. You might try reaching out to the people with whom you interviewed, to see what it was that you would have needed to have or to do to convince them to hire you. It may be that there was something you weren’t emphasizing enough, some skill or quality they felt you lacked, or even something in your interviewing style that got in the way. You might even want to try mock interviews with experts to see if they can discern any issues.

Next, look at how you uncovered the opportunities. Did you network with everyone you knew, everyone you had worked with in the past, everyone who might be in a position to connect you to anyone else? Did you put together a compelling 2 minute pitch that expressed exactly what you brought to the table, and particularly the sorts of results you could bring to a prospective employer or problems you could solve for them? Did you brainstorm with them to uncover someone else you could talk to, or did you fall into the trap of focusing on asking about openings? You need to get everyone you can on your side, recommending you, suggesting people for you to talk to, and uncovering potential opportunities.

Also look at the stories you have that cover the critical elements of the job you seek. Did you have compelling, results-oriented accomplishment stories you could tell to demonstrate why you would be an outstanding animal keeper?

Obviously there are a lot of other elements to your marketing campaign, but these are big ticket items. If you uncover significant areas for improvement in these, then it may be worth taking another shot at your marketing campaign here on the east coast. If it feels like you really gave it your best possible effort, using a very strong approach, then maybe it’s time to think about another job/career that has strong elements of what you would love doing.

You might be interested in “attending” a free tele-class I’m conducting on April 3rd, “5 Secrets to Getting a Job You’ll Love!” Click here for more information.

For further help on your search, I invite you to check out the articles available on my website,

Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email ( it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.

No comments: