So obviously, the job market is still in the tank for planners. I haven't tried as hard as some of you but I'm coming up on 15 applications now (around 10 of which are planning) since last October, and so far, no offers my way. Each time I got through to the interview round, the candidate that ended up being selected usually had more experience and a Masters. I currently only have a BA in geography and planning and for personal reasons, am not really in a good position to go back to grad school just yet.
On the horizon now, I'm waiting on a few opportunities, two which are non-planning but tangentially related. One is a Transportation Coordinator position for a local school district, and the other is a Policy Coordinator for the downtown business association of a mid-size city. On the off chance I might get an offer for one of those two positions, I'm guessing I can probably negotiate a starting salary somewhere close to the mid-40s, so the pay is not out of line with what starting planners make.
However, both obviously aren't planning jobs, and won't provide me technical experience I need to grow as a planner. My concern is that if I do get an offer and accept one of these positions, it makes me less marketable as a future planning candidate. If I get the second job, I'm wondering if I should wave goodbye to planning and simply establish a career in policy. I could go back and get a Masters in planning while I'm working, but I'd still have a non-planning work exp "hole" in my resume if I do decide to pursue a planning job in the future.
Also, I have about 2 years transit planning experience so this is an obvious deviation from what I have already done. I'd consider it a shame if this experience becomes old and stale.