Bullish Q&A: Help! My Job Experience Isn’t “Professional”


Help! I have spent the past 5 years after college in a lucrative (but not professional or sustainable) job. I now have good savings/ no debt, but my resume reads like a blank page– how can I get a “real job” (or something like it) now that I find myself wanting to settle down and join the adult workforce? I have considered grad school or coding bootcamp(I can code a bit already) but am wary of spending money on something that doesn’t eventually help (like college didn’t in my case)?


Wait, you spent five years succeeding in a job – how is that a “blank page”?

You say the job was “lucrative but not professional or sustainable.”

Fuck that! You showed up on time, did work, got paid: it was professional. 

Let’s say you were a nanny. That’s a gendered job – and a pretty common one – that maybe doesn’t look that great on a resume. Or maybe you sold knives door-to-door. Fine.

You’re going to spin the hell out of that. Did you manage children – and their relationships with doctors, teachers, etc.? Maybe while letting in the cable repair guy? You “managed multiple vendor relationships for a busy high-net-worth household.” Etc.

Get a great recommendation. If you really were a nanny, ask the parents for job leads, explaining that you want to leave nannying and bring your skills to a new industry.

Spin your resume, and practice talking about it like you’re actually proud of it.

Go to networking events and tell everyone, proudly and excitedly, that you just left a five-year position as a nanny and are looking for your next opportunity “in tech” or “in marketing,” etc.

Now – among other job search activities – go apply for jobs at startups that have some connection to children (or, if you sold knives, food and cooking). Find companies where your “non-professional” job experience is an asset. 

Look, I went to college with a woman who interned at a big company like Proctor and Gamble or something, and she sat in on a meeting where a roomful of men argued about how many tampons should come in a box. As an intern, she was not permitted to speak.

There are startups out there where a bunch of male recent college grads are making an app that helps parents coordinate babysitters. Those dudes are not parents and have never been babysitters. There are places where the expertise you think is ordinary and vaguely embarrassing is actually very valuable. I think those places will mostly be startups. You can apply to work at a startup even if they have no jobs listed. You need to pitch them on what value you can offer. Get comfortable pitching yourself, getting rejected, and pitching again.

As for coding bootcamps, those programs have a MUCH HIGHER ROI than formal education in general. We’re talking $80K for a degree that isn’t particularly meant to lead to a specific job versus $12K for a program that takes less time and is intended to lead directly to a specific job. It’s probably a good move for you.

Stay bullish!

Also of interest:

Bullish: High-Paying, Women-Friendly Tech Jobs Are Out There (Even If You Majored in Art

Bullish: Should I Learn to Code at Age 27?

Bullish Q&A: Can You Go Full-Time to Part-Time and Back Again?

Bullish: Every Weird Thing You Do Will Help You

Bullish: Reg Braithwaite On How Tech Can Help Women, Minorities, and Non-Schmoozers

I’ve Been Put on the Reserve List for a Coding Bootcamp

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