On the Job

Make the Most of Your Experience as a Business Owner

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, July 4, 2008; 12:00 AM

When the bottom falls out of a business you had been nurturing successfully, it is an obvious rude awakening.

But one can hardly live on past success. So what do you do now?

For the past six years I made my living in the mortgage industry, in Southern California. The majority of my time in the industry I spent as a manager and the last three years I owned and managed an office with 25 employees. The recent fall-out of the mortgage industry has caused me to close my office and look for new work. I am in the process of relocating to the Washington area and have started with my search for a new career. I have a B.A. in marketing and have been in sales for more than 11 years, but can't seem to find anything other than 'entry level' sales jobs. It seems everyone wants industry experience. How do I get the industry experience if companies only hire people with industry experience? Does any of my sales or management experience count for anything?

Beth Brascugli De Lina, a human resources consultant with HRM Consulting Inc. in Murphys, Calif., says this worker likely needs to rethink what salary might be acceptable to her since she has worked for a lengthy period in the high-end Southern California real estate market. "She may have an unrealistic understanding of her worth," De Lina says, especially if she is switching to a new industry.

The consultant says that if the worker wants to stay in real estate, she ought to contact the big national real estate firms for job possibilities, even as the housing market retrenches, or property management firms.

"The biggest benefit is she has managed an office for several years," De Lina says.

But if she wants to switch to a different industry, De Lina says the worker ought to check what salary she might expect, based on her career so far and the skills she possesses. Several Web sites do calculations for workers for specific occupations in various cities and one such site is www.salary.com.

Then, De Lina says, the worker should take care to craft her resume and cover letter to "promote the skills she has to whatever she's applying for, so she creates a link for the employer. How well she promotes herself will determine how good a job she gets. Play down the real estate angle if she's not applying to a real estate job."

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com.

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