Career advice requested (considering major career change)

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  1. I'm really hoping I can get some guidance as nobody IRL has been able to help me (lack of similar experience).
    I have a degree that I'm dead proud of and 12 years of work experience (I would rather not disclose my job in case someone from my workplace frequents the forums). I am proud of all that I've accomplished but have learned some key things about myself as I've grown and had regular feedback from bosses/colleagues.

    The good stuff:
    1- I'm extremely organized and able to prioritize well.
    2- I'm responsible and reliable.
    3- People confide in me easily- I get all the office & personal news without asking for it. I've been told I'm trusted because I never engage in gossip and I listen well.
    4- I'm adaptable and am unafraid of change in the workplace (people would panic when we got a new boss while I would just adapt to them and allow my work to speak for itself).
    5- I'm friendly and can get along with people from all nationalities and backgrounds.

    The bad stuff:
    I will focus on my biggest flaw which is that I'm terrible at networking and I'm terrible at pitching. I'll stick to that point as it is what has led me to make a decision to switch careers.
    Some people have that gift of the gab, can sell easily, can schmooze at dinners. I truly admire them but it's not me. It's not a part of my personality. I'm too direct for that. I don't look the part and I can't charm people with the intent to get them to buy my product one day.
    I don't like doing marketing and sales pitches, I don't want to take my clients to lunch/dinner, and while I'm very friendly, I cannot fathom a 2 hour meeting where only 20 mins was work-related discussion. That, to others, is building a customer relationship, but to me it's just everyone killing time so that they don't have to complete their daily tasks under the guise of getting stuck in a meeting. It sounds harsh the way I'm writing it but I'm struggling to articulate how much I struggle with this element of work.
    I should contrast that to say I find that I'm great at supplier relations because that is a more open and direct relationship. There are briefs for what is required, a QC process, and a delivery, then payment. My suppliers trust me and vice versa because there's no fluff. The work is done in an orderly manner.
    While my clients also trust me, the process of babysitting them to get to the end product is one I find personally draining.

    Now I'm at a point where I'm looking for a new job (recently walked away because the culture became toxic) and realizing that this career path doesn't bring me joy. I love elements of my job but realise in any new position I would be required to do a lot of meetings/ pitching/ public speaking/ networking events. I dread the thought of that stuff. It feels like I'd be wasting away my life doing something that I genuinely cannot bear. It is also something that I cannot be trained to be better at (nor do I wish to be); I just don't look the part and it clearly conflicts with my nature so it comes off as forced (because it is).

    I like the back-end work, like the strategy, planning, organizing, evaluating, coordination between divisions, vendor relations. I'm trying to find a career path that I can switch over to with my transferable skills that would have me hustling in the background, getting stuff done, instead of being front-facing trying to charm clients.

    I'm starting to think HR might be a suitable option. I do love people and am friendly, but more importantly, I'm strict yet fair (this has come up in all of my professional evaluations). I am discreet with sensitive information and don't gossip (not at work or at home). Those seem like qualities that are required in HR, right?
    I also like the idea of setting company protocols and even think I'd be fine doing the more mundane monthly HR tasks of approving leaves (PTO), salaries, health and safety checks, etc. I'm not bothered by repetitive work, so long as I'm able to be busy and productive. I hate long lulls.
    I also think with training I'd be good at candidate selection and interviewing (although I lack experience interviewing people, so that's speculation based on the fact that I try to be fair and not project personal biases onto people).

    I definitely think I would be good at handling workplace conflict should it escalate to HR level. This (surprisingly) became a huge part of my last role in my final few years at my workplace. The culture changed and conflict became standard. Somehow I became the mediator and was the one to find resolutions for both sides of every clash. I think I grew the most due to this as I discovered I can remain calm even when men twice my age and size are screaming in my face, lol!

    Okay, this has turned into a longer post than I expected, but that's my story. :smile:
    I'd love to get some advice on potential career paths that would suit someone like me, and it would be incredible if someone who works in HR is able to enlighten me as to whether that is a path that may be suited to my skills (or just give me a better idea of what other roles may be required in that field).

    Thank you to everyone who has read this! Looking forward to your opinions on what careers you suggest that I explore! :smile:
  2. I don't work in HR but have friends who do. If you are not about taking dinners with customers etc and being lively friendly and with a smile on your face at all times I think it's not for you. Depends on the country though.
    The role of the HR in my country is not sales related, however, it is most of the time communicating with ALL the bosses above, mostly after hours and on weekends because that's when they have time. A head of HR in my company resigned for that reason.
    You need to chase people to sign budget approvals when they don't want to, you need to chase potential employees who might be using your offer to just get an increase/promotion at the place they are at and completely ignore you and you can't sound mean or even "not nice" at any point.
    I find that draining. You have to do PR and be pleasant always and that's not for everyone. If you are struggling with client relationships now, I don't think you would tolerate a position in HR. That's why the best HR hires are the ones with a psychology degree (there is a HUGE difference in ppl I have come to notice when they have a background in psychology rather than any other degree). I was interested in HR myself, however, as I can be the best person writing emails and on face to face, but honestly calling the client/vendor etc I hate it, I just hate the calls. When I see a person face to face or by the way they write I can get 90%, through call it's a waste of time for me.
    Also HR will not regularly resolve conflicts, the management will so they give instructions to HR and HR to employees but there is no decision making on HR side there.
    I would suggest doing a job in finance, more middle-back office rather than sales, where you don't have to actually meet the people and pamper them. You can pm me if you want so that i won't give you empty suggestions on something that is not related to your degree or experience, I have changed jobs and career cycles myself.
    jblended likes this.
  3. I agree HR doesnt sound like the place for you. Logistics sounds suited to your strengths but can you give us a general idea of the industry and you education?
    jblended likes this.
  4. It sounds like you're currently in sales or business development. Have you looked at Marketing? A friend of mine is a Marketing Manager. I don't know everything she has to do, but it seems like she and her people support the bus. dev. team: she arranges all marketing material that will be used and makes sure the bus. dev. people have all materials they need, plans (large) events and vendor shows, etc... So she has to be organized, deal with vendors (printers, manufacturers, venues, caterers, etc...) as a client, come up with interesting events that jaded tech people will want to attend, etc... The one thing she doesn't do is pitch.
    jblended likes this.
  5. I'm so grateful to have received responses so quickly! Thank you all so much!

    @phaedrana, your insights into what HR requires is so very appreciated. Seems I had it all wrong after all! That's why I'm asking to be honest. There's no way to know what a job truly entails unless you try it or know someone who has tried it. If I find a new career path to follow that brings me joy, I'll be pursuing an MA in that field (hopefully studying part time while working), but I can't even consider further education unless I'm sure the field is right for me.

    @A1aGypsyA1aGypsy Logistics is something I hadn't even considered! I'll have to look into specific roles within that field to see where I may fit in well. Thank you so much for the suggestion!

    @apey_grapey Ha ha! Okay, you just described my last job to the letter! So, that's the field I'm moving away from but thank you for the suggestion! :smile:

    As I think about it further, there's no need not to disclose more information. I have a Communications degree and have work experience in marketing and event management.
    I loved all the stuff you mentioned (apey_grapey) about my old job: vendor relations, the logistics and organization of events, the writing and production of marketing material. That was stuff that had me working away, head down and focused.
    But a huge part of that role is client-facing. Maybe it differs in other places, but for me we had a lot of socializing as part of the role. You have to man the event booths and give product pitches to people who walk past, mainly acting as a support to the business development people. You have to network at dinners alongside the sales people in order to drive customers their way to close the deal. There are product pitches both to clients and to advertising agencies (in the form of briefs for upcoming campaigns). There are endless meetings that don't accomplish anything but somehow eat up half your day. That's the bit I find psychologically draining to the extreme.
    It's insane how well I do with small groups of people, when meetings are short and productive. It's when it's large groups, or a group that's in the meeting just to look busy to their respective bosses and have no intention of collaborating with your company, that kills me. I can tell from the off that nothing is going to move forward but I have to play nice and sit in that room giving them the benefit of the doubt just in case they may work with us one day in the future. It's so exhausting.

    I'm doing a lot of soul searching but feel so lost at this stage. My family tells me to follow my heart, my friends tell me to do the same job because I'm so good at it, and I'm just stifled because I don't know what to do.
    Being unemployed and getting to start a new chapter means I can dip my toe in to something completely different, challenge myself and discover other skills. Going back to the familiar would mean building on the foundation I've already created.
    I have no idea what I want other than knowing I am neither pretty enough nor charming enough to play the marketing and promotions game the way others do.
  6. I could have written this post almost word for word.
    I was in the music business (sales/marketing) and HATED the whole shmooze fest and dog & pony shows I had to put on. But I loved putting together events and coordinating with vendors - all the behind the scenes mechanics and creating graphics. I woke up in the fetal position one morning and just quit (after 15 years). I switched gears, did a complete 180, and pursued my other passion - animal care. I became an animal keeper at a major zoo and have never looked back.
    The point I’m making is to not be afraid to take chances and go after something completely different if you are passionate about it. I changed careers at 39. I’m now going on 17 years as a keeper and cannot imagine doing anything else.
    I’m excited for you and can’t wait to see where you land.
    Keep us posted!
    juneping and jblended like this.
  7. Also, I was thinking I'd be great as a part of a socal media Influencer's management team. I'd be able to strategize their brand collaborations, organize meet-and-greets, manage their posting schedules, and all that kind of stuff, while they are the ones front-facing and interacting with people.
    Social media marketing is a massive part of any marketing and events work these days (and was a tiny bit of my work previously, albeit we didn't use influencers).
    The problem is that I find Influencer marketing really insidious and unethical most of the time. Even with new regulations coming in to manage the situation, most influencers are scamming impressionable people and that conflicts with my personal ethics in a way that I can't overlook.
  8. Wow! That's exactly what happened to me (and I'm 36). I just woke up the other day with this pit in my stomach and I knew I had to quit. I even negotiated my way out of my notice period (forgoing some compensation and working the weekend to train my replacement) because I just couldn't take another day in that world.
    I knew in my gut it was better to be unemployed than to waste another day (that I will never get back) being that deeply unhappy.

    I'm so glad to hear that you got to find your passion and pursue it! Life's too short to do something we hate. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me! Truly happy for you! ❤️

    Looking forward to posting my own happy ending soon. :smile:
    bagnshoofetish likes this.
  9. Just a quick update to say that I've reached out to several companies requesting that I shadow some of their staff to get a feel for the job (thanks to phaedrana for the recommendation :smile:).

    I've started with 2 logistics firms and a handful of local radio stations. At this point, I'm really leaning towards radio production as that seems like a good fit for me but, I don't know the ins and outs of it so if I get the opportunity to shadow someone it may give me an indication of whether or not I'm on the right track.

    Thanks to everyone for your suggestions thus far, it's highly appreciated!
    Also, I'd be extremely grateful if anyone can offer insight into radio production and what that entails, or even post an opinion on whether or not that sounds like it would suit given my original post and leanings.

    Hope to be able to post some good news soon! :smile:
    Thistle and phaedrana like this.
  10. I really hope you find the perfect fit for you!
    You are not alone out there! :hugs::heart:
    jblended likes this.
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