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Long Term Unemployed Planner Seeking Help

rover

Cyburbian
Messages
111
Points
6
Hey folks, I wanted to post my anecdote, and see if any of you have any tips/advice as I seem to be stuck.
Feel free to post here or PM me.

So, I am 35, have an MA in Geography with a GIS certificate in 2010.
I have not had a full time job since I was let go from the US Census last August.

Since then, I have been working two part time jobs. I consider both to be related to my desired profession, Transportation Planning/Demography.
-One job is with a private company I have been at since 2014. This is a quarterly surveying job, where every 3 months for some extra money I go out recording data on new subdivisions.
-The other position is a free lance one, where I go and collect parking data.
So, it's been roughly a year, I have applied to over 400 planning related jobs, had over 30 interviews, including a couple with 2nd interviews. The only offer I received was for a position which didn't require even a Bachelor's degree, and the pay was way too much of a cut for me to afford in New York.
My search has been as broad as reasonably possible; I've looked in New York, VA/DC, NC/SC, and Texas. I've had interviews in all those places. At first, I thought my problem was this was a niche field. However, I no longer believe this, as in ALL of those geographic locations, jobs I interview for are being re-posted. Hence, it's not that I am being beaten out by somebody better, rather the employer isn't finding anybody they like, myself included.

At this point, I feel as though I am wasting my time applying, that nobody in the field will hire me, and my only hope is to go a temp agency and take whatever. I've networked like hell, going to APA/YPT meetings and conferences, connecting on linked, using references, to no avail.

I wanted to know if anybody here had any candid thoughts.
I would be happy to elaborate further on my background if needed, including showing my resume either on site or off site/by PM.
Please let me know, and thanks for reading.

(Note I posted this in this forum because it appears this is the main one, with the 'Career' forum being much less used).
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,342
Points
37
Did any potential employers give feedback on why they didn't hire you - they rarely if ever do tell you so it's hard to know what's going wrong

You may want to think about applying for plain GIS positions and then move over and into positions that you really want to do

Will the Census take you in for another position as they are hiring for the 2020 Census

Being unemployed is hard financially and feeling unemployable is hard emotionally so work hard at taking care of yourself.
 

rover

Cyburbian
Messages
111
Points
6
Did any potential employers give feedback on why they didn't hire you - they rarely if ever do tell you so it's hard to know what's going wrong

You may want to think about applying for plain GIS positions and then move over and into positions that you really want to do

Will the Census take you in for another position as they are hiring for the 2020 Census

Being unemployed is hard financially and feeling unemployable is hard emotionally so work hard at taking care of yourself.
I've asked and just gotten plain generic answers like 'more qualified.'
 

Veloise

Cyburbian
Messages
5,550
Points
27
Didja see my job postings that include :mi: DOT? At least one position is pretty much entry-level transportation planning.

Yes, although you have a master's, it's not in moving little plastic cars on little plastic freeways.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,638
Points
37
I wish I could give some great advice beyond take care of yourself and we're all pulling for you. It sounds like you're doing everything you need to do and anything I have you'll just read and say I'm doing that, duh!, but I'll put out ideas just in case one slipped by you.

Try MPOs. The one near me in Phoenix does exactly what you want, but I'm not sure if they're hiring. If you see something there let me know and I'll put in a good word with some friends.

Most transportation jobs I see are state level. For Arizona I know a lot of people start at ADOT then move on to bigger better things like private sector or bigger, better city jobs. Apparently ADOT sucks compared to those jobs. Not sure if that is true with all states.

Obviously there will be more jobs in the states that are expanding freeways and transit, but I couldn't tell you what states those might be outside of Texas.

I would think private sector jobs might be a little harder to come by just because they want experience, but I've never really worked private sector so what do I know.

Are there any local/national transportation conferences you can crash? My experience, APA is just a side gig for the big transportation planners.

Sometimes it's just good to get your foot in the door doing a job that isn't exactly right so that you can promote into the job you want.

Good luck.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,276
Points
43
I can't speak for everyone, but at least in my shop, we look for a balance between the technical and personal skills related to planning. We want to make sure that a person will fit into the long term vision of the department and the community beyond just their planning skills but into creating a vibrant collaborative department. Having 30 interviews tells me that you likely have your resume locked down. Perhaps you could look into ways to hone your personal and interviewing skills. You mentioned that you made a lot of contacts and I would suggest that you engage with them to find out what beyond the technical skills are they looking for in an staff member, especially within your target sectors and geographic region. What one looks for in a small southern town might be different than what the consulting firm in NYC looks for.
 
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