how to explain why I want a lower-level, lower-responsibility job

A reader writes:

For most of my life, I have held positions that were high-stress, take-it-home with you type jobs. I was laid off in December after 4 years of being “on call” all the time. I was required to answer emails and phone calls at all hours, was expected to attend and or host 6 events a month, and was not allowed to take a real vacation. I could take 1 day off, but never a Friday or Monday. It was stressful for my husband and my children.

Now I am back in the job market, and what I really want is a decent-paying job that I do not have to take home with me. I will be there on time and do my job to the best of my ability, but have no aspirations or, rather, delusions of grandeur! Been there, done that. I was the important person and found I hated it.

I have been turned down for 2 positions. One because I was overqualified; the recruiter told me that I was more qualified than the manager I would work under and he was afraid I would take his job! The other I was turned down for because the hiring manager said that I was likely to get bored. That may be true, but I will take boredom over stress any day. I am sure many of the low stress, low skill jobs I have applied for are viewing me with the “she will get bored and leave” mentality. I really want to stay home and take care of my family, but that is not feasible with our current expenses. How do I market myself as a hard-working yet un-ambitious employee? I know the pay will not be as exciting.

Turn it into a strength: You’ve done higher level work and know that it’s not for you — but that experience has left you with a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a great employee; you know what managers are looking for. Because I bet that that’s true, particularly if you managed people — once you manage people yourself and you see things from that perspective, you get a much greater appreciation for what makes a good employee. You’re much more likely to have a better understanding what matters and what doesn’t, and why certain trade-offs are made, and how to raise issues in a rational way, and how to work around your busy’s manager’s schedule, and what to take to her versus fielding on your own.

And that’s hugely valuable in an employee. You don’t want the higher-level work, but you know how to work well with those who are doing it.

That’s a big plus, as long as people really believe you mean it and that you’re not just saying it because you’re desperate for any paycheck.

And that’s the next key: You need to be explicit about why you don’t want those jobs anymore, because otherwise people will tend to assume that you secretly do. So let them know clearly that that’s not the case, that you are actively searching for a lower-responsibility position (and that those are the only types of jobs you’re looking at), you’re clear about the lower pay that comes with it, and you’d be thrilled to in a position to support someone doing the more senior-level work. And be prepared to share the reason why — that you tried it and it wasn’t a good fit for you.

You might also try talking explicitly about the parts of the job that appeal to you — ideally, the ones that the hiring manager is going to be worried will bore you most. Hiring managers are going to worry that you have rose-colored glasses on about the job, and that you don’t fully realize what work you’ll be doing. So show them that that’s not true:  “It might sound odd, but I’m really pleased that data entry is a big part of the job. I know few people say that, but I’ve always loved doing it; I get a huge sense of satisfaction from that type of routine.”  Or, “The thing that really appeals to me about the role is handling the phones. I love helping callers get the information they need, and leaving them with a positive feeling toward the place they called. I know how important that is, and I appreciate it so much when it’s done well.”

So be clear about why your background makes you a stronger employee at the level you now want to be at, be explicit about why you prefer that, and address their concerns about boredom or ambition head-on. And do that proactively, too — don’t wait to be asked, because you might not be.

A side benefit of this approach is that it will screen out bad managers who can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want capital-P Power, and will screen for managers who have the sense to appreciate someone with your background and mindset.

Good luck.

{ 67 comments… read them below }

  1. Coelura*

    You might provide a personal reason as well to why you are seeking a better work/life balance. I made the choice to step down from a very senior position to an individual contributor several years ago. I shared with the interviewers that I was making the choice for personal reasons (fostering & adopting children) and needed to come off the road and reduce my hours as well as the mental demands of my job. I had no problems with finding a position because I had a clear reason for the change in work direction. Since then, my kids have grown up enough that I have stepped back up in responsibility, but I have no desire to go back to where I was – too much is involved & too much is required!

    Good Luck!

    1. bearing*

      Is this an exception to the ironclad rule “don’t talk about your family during interviews?”

      1. Long Time Admin*

        Absolutely. You need to give concrete, compelling reasons as to why you want a lower-stress job, and giving the interview some insight like that can help a great deal. They can see that it’s a real lifestyle change, not just a case of burnout.

      2. Colette*

        You wouldn’t necessarily need to mention your family – just something like “I’m at a point in my life where work-life balance is becoming more important, and I want a role where I can leave work behind at the end of the day most of the time.”

  2. Yup*

    “After extensive management experience, I’ve realized that what I really enjoy most is the nuts-and-bolts work at an associate or team member level. I thrive on being the steady, rock-solid employee that my manager can rely on to do the front-line things needed to keep the wheels turning. I’m deliberately not seeking out opportunities with advancement paths to higher levels because, what I really want is to support my manager and the organization from an associate level, where I can focus long-term on the kind of work I do best.”

    1. ChristineSW*

      Might this be a legitimate answer for someone who isn’t looking to even enter into management?

      1. Rob Aught*

        Maybe except for this part –

        I’m deliberately not seeking out opportunities with advancement paths to higher levels because…

        However, even that may be important if you have advanced skills and experience and the interviewer is wondering why you are not pursuing a management position.

  3. SerfinUSA*

    This sounds like me too.
    I’ve done lots of high-level corporate stuff, and it was a great experience, but being able to leave work at work is my thing now.

    Luckily I moved from a ‘big city’ to a smaller, more laid back, one and there just aren’t many jobs at all, let alone in my former field. This made it much easier to find a low key job. Hiring managers often commiserated that all they had to offer was a routine, safe, “boring” job, and they were happy to have someone with my skills and experience.

    I also experienced the overqualified, too boring thing back in the big city though, and it was definitely an obstacle. Stressing the preference for stability over advancement helps. Also referring to some aspect of personal life that requires a lower key job can help, like kids or other dependent caretaking.

  4. Victoria Nonprofit*

    Oh, this is totally me too. I even wrote in with a similar question a while ago, so I’m excited to see this covered.

  5. Jamie*

    I am bookmarking this post. Sometimes I really, truly want this as well.

    But there is a such a loud voice in the back of my head that screams that it’s just a response to situational stress and that I would be miserable and not to derail on impulse. And this loud voice is echoed by those who know me when I say this out loud.

    But then there is this powerful and visceral craving to have a job I will do well for 8.5 hours a day – never be over my skis and no access to phone or email after hours because no one would need me. Sometimes I want that so much I could cry.

    But I think for me it’s like how I feel when I see a new baby. There is a little part of me that is sad I can’t have another one, but wouldn’t really want to even if I could because it’s the cuteness and the smell of baby shampoo that I miss…and I’d hate to have to teach someone to ride a bike again.

    If you’re sure that’s what you want, I totally agree that you need to make it super clear that this isn’t a result of a temporary funk because people like me will totally understand the impulse so you have to be convincing that it’s more than that.

  6. Katie the Fed*

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that after working in a crazy, high stress job where you were on call 24/7, and you want to be more available to your family. You’re a hard worker, of course, but you’re not interested in those kinds of positions anymore.

  7. SerfinUSA*

    I have to add that one negative effect I sometimes experience is that people in your work environment who don’t really know your previous roles (and they never get it no matter how many times you explain) can disrespect you or treat you like a lifer lackey.

    Even though I would never change my path, it can be galling to be regarded as less competent or even less intelligent by newish coworkers. YMMV, but my current employment is in academia and many people judge a book by its title.

    Make sure you are “bullet-proof” enough to deal with that as part of your daily work life.

    1. Jamie*

      I didn’t think of that – but yes, one would need to make sure there wouldn’t be problems with ego if this happens.

      My fear would be the slippery slope. People find out you can do more high level stuff so your job description changes and you end up in the same position as before, without the money and authority.

      If it were me could I let people in a new office be without connectivity waiting for the IT person for hours if I could see it just needs a quick switch swapped out and would take a trip to the store and 5 minutes? Pretend I don’t know what’s wrong? Fall back on “it’s not my job.” I don’t know – seems like you’d not only have to be okay with the new path but find a way to gracefully and professionally make sure you don’t find yourself providing your old services for the new lower salary.

      1. RedStateBlues*

        “…you end up in the same position as before, without the money and authority”

        And therein lies the problem; its hard for many people to “turn off the switch”. While there might be some value in it for learning purposes, I’m not going to watch somebody stuggle endlessly with something that I can do easily, regardless of whether I no longer want that responsibility.

      2. overqualified, underpaid*

        “People find out you can do more high level stuff so your job description changes and you end up in the same position as before, without the money and authority. ”

        This happened to me at my current job and I am not happy. Very much overworked and expected to get it all done in 40 hours (non-exempt). Feeling very much taken advantage of, doing very high level work at a coordinator level. Expected to manage people without any formal authority to do so – luckily I have generally succeeded at this without this formal authority.

        Just be careful …

    2. Chinook*

      I want to echo that there is a greater chance that you may not be treated as competent or as intelligent as you ahev in the past. There is often a misconception that people do these “boring” jobs because they can’t do anything else. You really do need to have a thick skin and a solid sende of self.

      I heard a story of navy captain giving a tour to someone higher ranking who talking about how most enlisted men really aren’t that bright and not capable of fixing problems, just taking orders. The visitor gestured towards one seaman who was fixing something on deck and said “look, it is not like the guy needs to be a rocket scientist to fix a pulley.”

      The captain motioned the seam, whom he knew, over and asked what he did before he joined the navy and why he joined. The response – “I had a PhD in Astrophysics but was tired of the academic life and wanted to work with my hands.”

  8. Rob Aught*

    Alison’s advice is spot on. I know it would sell me.

    However, just keep in mind the current job market is still not great for most job seekers and there are a lot of people looking for a job. Any job. I’ve gotten a few resumes in the past from people who were former managers and the first thought that crosses my mind is “Will they be out of here if they find another manager position?” Everyone who looks at your resume and every hiring manager you talk to will be asking this question even if they don’t ask it to you directly.

    The good news is, this can be overcome but you need to be cognizant of it at all times. Don’t ever take it for granted. Even if they don’t ask, you should talk about why the position appeals to you and how much you’re looking forward to the work. I might be really excited by a candidate’s experience but I need to be convinced they are not a flight risk. As a former manager you can probably appreciate that position and just imagine what questions you would have if you had a candidate in your situation.

      1. Rob Aught*

        I feel like I should protest in defense of managers everywhere, but I find myself without a decent argument.

        Yeah, that would probably work if not outright get a chuckle out of them.

        1. Chinook*

          There is no need to defend managers in general when someone says they hate managing. Let’s face it, it is not for everybody.

      2. Chinook*

        I was once asked why I never applied to be a manager at a store I was working at. I said that I would only do that if they guaranteed that I could fire people but that, with the current shortage of workers, that isn’t likely to happen.

        Strangely, my coworkers never asked me about it again. Hmm…

      3. Jen in RO*

        Phew! I thought I was being *too* honest when I said this in interviews. I really would hate managing – I see what my former peer (current team lead) has to do and it’s stressful as hell, especially for someone like me who absolutely hates conflict. I wouldn’t be able to give negative feedback and I would be a crappy manager.

  9. Joey*

    Just make sure your salary growth expectations are commiserate with your career growth expectations. In other words if you don’t want to promote you should also understand that at some point your salary is going to level off as well.

  10. Long Time Admin*

    On your resume, lead with your typing speed.

    I can almost guarantee that it get you a lower-paying job,

    All kidding aside, I agree with Alison that you can talk about the fact that you know how to work with higher-level people, and you know what makes a good employee.

    1. SerfinUSA*

      talk about the fact that you know how to work with higher-level people

      Oh yes, this!

      I have had some opportunities to be involved in interesting projects because in addition to relevant skills, I’m used to working with higher ups. Not being a tongue-tied noob, plus disinterest in ladder-climbing or agenda-pushing has been a big plus in being included instead of self-interested coworkers.

  11. mollsbot*

    Do you think some of this advice would apply to someone in their mid 20s that is capable of higher level work, but wants to stay in the support role?

    1. Jamie*

      Just out of curiosity – how do you know you don’t want higher level work before you’ve tried it?

      I’m not doubting you – I have just known enough people who kind of advanced against their will because they were nervous about taking the next step and then absolutely thrived once they settled in.

      I think it’s different if you’ve done it and know what you’re missing – I just think it’s easier to know something isn’t for you once you’ve tried it.

      Although this is moot (or moo – Friends marathon recently) if it’s something you just know and isn’t being made out of fear of the unknown.

      1. Joey*

        This is a great point. I’ve had folks on my team who were very apprehensive to take on more, but once they actually got a taste of it they loved it. Probably fear of the unknown or an inaccurate perception of the job.

        1. Coffeeless*

          As someone who is in her 20s, currently trying to get hired for a support role instead of the higher level position she’s technically qualified for, I guess I’d just have to say that I know myself better than you know me. Throughout my life, I’ve made some odd choices on issues that other people insisted I would change my mind about if I tried another way, or the established way. In almost every case, they were wrong, and I sorely regretted being pressured into making a decision I felt wasn’t right for me.

          Sure, some people get into a position they don’t want, and they thrive. Some quiet people start socializing, despite feeling like they dislike it, and become the life of the party. I have never been that person, and I’ve seen plenty of people who’ve taken those jobs and regretted them.

          Heck, my husband took a leadership position about a year ago, with a lot more responsibility than he was originally looking for. He found out he wasn’t ready for the responsibility, didn’t like managing people, felt unqualified, and constantly needs to be available 24-7. He’s miserable. Now, I’m not saying this happens to everyone, just that there are also plenty of people who take a job they’re not sure about and regret it, too. Tonight, when we’re in the middle of watching a movie and he has to get up and take a work call, I’m going to thank my lucky stars that I’ll be in a position where I go home at the end of the night, and that’s that.

          1. Jazzy Red*


            People here do not know you as well as you know yourself. Besides, you can learn a lot by observing what’s going on around you, and the kind of stuff people going up the ladder have to deal with.

            A good friend was promoted to management, which she really didn’t want, and which she was not trained or qualified for. She was a nervous wreck because she knew she couldn’t handle the budget part of it, and the one person she supervised was difficult.

            Frankly, you couldn’t pay me enough to manage or supervise any one. I’m a good support/team person and that’s what I like doing.

        2. Jen in RO*

          Unlike Coffeeless, I don’t think I know what’s better for me… and I hope Joey and Jamie are right. My boss is pushing me towards a project-management-y role (managing one aspect of a project across a few teams)… and while it sounds exciting, it’s also pretty scary, especially considering that I have <4 years of experience in this industry and I'd be working with people with 10+ years experience!

          (Maybe it's a good thing to feel younger than you are, but sometimes I wish I felt like the almost-30-year-old that I am instead of 25!)

          1. Jamie*

            Project management is a great way to get your feet wet in managing! Because you do manage people directly but in a limited way and it gives you a taste of what it’s like.

            It tastes like chocolate. :)

            In all seriousness it’s a great way to try it out because projects are limited in time and scope. So if you don’t like it the horribleness is finite.

            Good luck!

      2. mollsbot*

        I didn’t see this yesterday, so sorry for the day delay.

        Coffeeless pretty much hit the nail on the head. While I wouldn’t necessarily turn down a management job offered to me, I do really thrive in the support-type role. I’m pretty great at making sure the office runs smoothly and being a first point of contact for customers, clients, etc.

        “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself” is not what I have here. I’m not afraid of being a manager, I’m just not attracted to that role right now.

  12. Just a Reader*

    I did this successfully a year ago. They were concerned that after extensive management experience I wouldn’t be happy in an individual contributor position. I explained that while I could do it effectively, management didn’t get me out of bed in the morning the way that the core functions of the job that I was applying to did, and that management actually took me away from doing what I enjoyed.

    They hired me, I haven’t missed management for a minute and I’m in a highly rewarding, low-stress job.

  13. AB*

    I think that there is a type of position that is being overlooked here: high-level individual contributor. Both my husband and I fall into that category: senior positions that require a lot of independent thinking, but are low stress and do not require managing people or projects nor being available outside business hours.

    I’ve been doing my job for over 10 years, and was always able to take 3 weeks of vacation (usually 2 weeks + 1 week during the holidays). My typical work hours are 9-5 or 8-4, with no need for overtime or checking email or receiving calls outside these hours. My husband stays longer at work, until around 6 or 7, but only because he likes taking a 2-hour break to go out for lunch with his colleagues. Like me, he does not need to be checking email or answering calls from home.

    Sure, we both have specialized skills that companies need and compensate well for, but I think that the OP should not ignore the possibility that the skills she developed in her previous high-stress position can be a good match for a low-stress senior individual contributor position as well. This type of job eliminates the hiring manager’s concern of “getting bored” from the equation, because instead of doing routine work, in this type of job you are focused on solving challenging business problems that are constantly changing.

    OP, it would be worth taking a look at job boards to see if you can’t find high-level individual contributor positions that would be a good match to your background and current interests. A benefit would be that you would have much less competition than, say, for an admin position that doesn’t require the same level of experience/specialization than what you have.

    1. Just a Reader*

      This is me too–it’s so nice to provide value, and feel valued, without being pulled away by the responsibilities of management.

      1. Editor*

        My husband was in IT and had this type of job — senior, specialized, got to do special projects — and it was a great fit for him. He had no desire to be a manager and was sure he would be terrible at it. (With all due respect, he was right about his managerial potential. But he was brilliant at what he did do.)

        Too many companies devise structures that don’t allow for specialists to advance without going into management. In a weird way, I blame the rules for exempt employees, because some people misread them and think every salaried person needs to be a supervisor. Plus, there’s the idea in some management circles that higher salaries mean more seat time or time at the end of an electronic tether.

        Alison — maybe we could have an open thread about how to redo these rules to reflect more modern issues and classification needs? I think we need more than exempt and nonexempt, for instance.

        1. AB*

          Just a Reader, totally agree that it’s great to provide value and feel valued without having to take on a management position.

          Editor, both my husband and I work for technology companies, and I believe it’s particularly common in our industry to have the option to follow a technical career path and climb the ladder to senior roles while staying out of managerial roles.

    2. louise*

      Would you be willing to share more about what you do? I’m floundering right now and suspect management isn’t for me, but I’ve done the admin thing and that’s not the right niche either. I wonder if it’s time to go back to school but I’m not sure for what.

    3. overqualified, underpaid*

      Oh, my, this sounds wonderful. I’ve been trying to get into this type of a position but, prior to my current position, I’ve always taking on manager roles. I know I don’t like managing, I like doing the work and I’m very good at the work. Nice to know these positions exist – need to keep looking!

  14. Joey*

    Another point. Be cognizant that no matter how well you sell it there may be positions you screen yourself out of. For example, if a manager is thinking about succession planning and wants to hire someone who will one day take his place you will probably miss out.

  15. Contessa*

    This is kind of funny, because I emailed in a very similar question just last night. I’m an attorney, and I very much want to switch areas of law–partially because I want to do something in which I am interested, partially because I feel I have not been properly trained and want to work under someone with more experience, and partially because I’m about to have a baby, and I want to do something less stressful. At this point, I would really like to be a paralegal, with someone else making the decisions and me working happily away writing all the documents (which I love doing) without having to make the tough decisions. I am already underpaid, so I would barely be taking a pay cut, if any. The problem is, I have a JD, not a paralegal certificate, so I’ve been running into this exact issue.

    How much should I be addressing this in the cover letter? I’ve been talking up my enthusiasm for certain areas of law I currently do not get to practice, but I think I should explain the perceived “downgrade” so the JD doesn’t make people think I’m just looking for an interim job. Alison has some great advice here and elsewhere regarding how to discuss it during the interview, but I’m not finding too much for the cover letter.

    I’m also afraid admitting that I don’t want the higher-responsibility jobs will make employers think I will shirk ALL responsibility. Has anyone encountered this way of thinking?

    1. Joey*

      Sort of. It can be frustrating to work with someone who is capable of so much more, but just has no desire to do more. Its similar to the “that’s not my job” mentality.

    2. Cat*

      This might be repeating something you’ve already thought about ad nauseum, in which case I apologize, but I think picking the right area of law would be key here. In my area (which is a federal regulatory practice) writing the documents is making the hard decisions – not the only way hard decisions are made, but one of them. It wouldn’t be useful to us to have someone who just wanted to write pleadings without thinking about how they fit into the larger case or the client’s strategy, and, in fact, that is not the type of work we have our paralegals do. A practice where a lot of the pleadings are 90% the same from cases to case would probably be a lot more suited to that, and perhaps a lot more receptive to it because the explanation you give above would be tied into a real understanding of what their needs are.

      1. Contessa*

        That makes perfect sense, actually. Because I write all my own pleadings now, I was surprised to see paralegal job descriptions that included writing pleadings, but apparently that is a thing in some firms (and my colleagues may do it here, but since I happen to enjoy it, I do it myself). I do general plaintiff’s litigation, mostly property damage, right now, but I want to practice copyright and trademark law (of course, without a degree in a hard science, no one wanted to hire me for an IP department when I graduated, since I am not patent-bar eligible). If I could spend my days writing cease and desist letters, sending DMCA takedown notices, and contributing to or writing briefs for infringement cases, I would be absolutely thrilled. What I don’t like is making the strategy decisions about what to _do_, as opposed to what to write. I always find that in hindsight, I did something wrong or forgot something, and the pressure and stress of always having to be right is already burning me out after 4 years. Again, that might just be the areas of law in which I work, and I might have brilliant strategy or investigation ideas if I worked in IP, but I can’t even get my foot in the door as an attorney without the science degree or even experience with TTAB cases, and after the last 4 years, I’m not sure I even want the attorney role. A job as a paralegal that includes some writing and litigation support responsibilities sounds like loads of fun to me–and any place that has paralegals will have attorneys, so if I ever WANT to move up, I might be able to, but if I end up loving it, I can stay where I am.

        1. Cat*

          Another thing to think about: I’ve read about specialist lawyers and law firms that hire themselves out to other firms to do legal writing specifically. That might be a perfect niche for what you’re describing!

          1. Contessa*

            I’ve never heard of that, but I will start looking into it, because that sounds exactly like something I might enjoy. Thanks!

    3. RedStateBlues*

      This really isn’t answering your question but I think its worth saying to somebody who is overeducated for the position they are seeking. A while ago I was part of a hiring committee and we had a position open we were trying to fill. We were basically looking for a lab technician, degree preferred. Well we had applicants with PhD’s (yep folks, it was that bad out there) submitting for the job and all were rejected outright. Fear of them getting bored and leaving didn’t even factor into it. What did factor a lot is the fear that this person would come in a second guess every decision those of us that had “only” Masters and Bachelors degrees were making. That is something you may have to figure out how to address.

  16. Anonymous*

    So glad you posted this question. How exactly do you handle the ambition question when the very next step in your progress, should you take the position, would logically be the one held by the person to whom I’d report directly and who was sitting there as a member of the inerviewing panel listening to my reply? I was stumped for an answer and the hiring manager and her colleague kept at it.

  17. Bryce*

    As you might guess if you’ve noticed a pattern to my posts, I’m a big fan of scripts. While I don’t advocate that you rely heavily on them, they at least take some guesswork and stress out of sticky situations.

    That said, if what’s below is true for you, that conversation would sound like this:

    “I got promoted to Management Position X because I excelled in my previous position, Staff Position Y, specifically, I was good at doing Z. After I was in Management Position X for a while, I discovered that it entailed doing a lot of Q, which I’ve founf that I like a lot less than Z, plus people say that I am better at Z than Q.”

    “That said, I’m looking for a position where I can do more Z. My knowledge of Q has helped me be better at Z for reasons ABC.”

    Keep in mind that a lot of employers will turn you down. That’s OK. The wrong employers will say no, but the right employers will say yes. It’s a platitude, but so true.

  18. Aubrey*

    Plain and simple- print out what you wrote and call it a cover letter…… It’s respectable! Try new business’s- they lose employees fast in the beginning and start to take anyone!

  19. Hugo*

    This is exactly why I left corporate America for government work. I was doing 10-12 hours per day, everything was high stress, calls on the weekends, at night, dealing with typical corporate knee-jerk reactions and waste-of-time corporate initiatives, couldn’t take a day off because something so “important” always came up, profits over people mentality, etc. Now I don’t work a second over 8 hours each day, make more, do more, and surprisingly, in a more efficient environment than the so-called business world.

  20. Kelly*

    This is fantastic. I am in exactly this boat now and have run into the same obstacles. Folks just don’t seem to understand that I have no desire to continue to climb the corporate latter and would be thrilled to be a support staff member. the stress is not worth it to me and at this point i my life i want to focus on so many more things that have nothing to do with work

  21. Nanci*

    Thank you so much for posting your reply to this nagging question. It is by far the most intelligent response I’ve seen or heard, while keeping it real!!

  22. Mary*

    This is a very helpful thread thank you. A further question is how to adapt your cv to “play down” management roles.
    Thank you!

  23. John*

    Yes, a VERY helpful thread. Thanks all for sharing. There is nothing to be ashamed of about wanting to live a fuller life.

  24. Debbie*

    I don’t want to downgrade to the fastfood or nursemaid or room and board (sleeping in laundry room while changing homeowner’s diapers) She is able to talk on the phone, use a computer and shop for short periods. She had botched surgery that can’t be fixed and is on narcotic grade pain. Her life expectancy is normal but I would be homeless upon her passing. The “friends” referring me to this job consider it very telling that I am not jumping all over this. Home maintenance, cleaning and cooking are expected. Rent and utilities are too.

    Pastor’s wife told me to do fast food and I can worship anywhere even while working two min wage jobs. Now she is suggesting I go be a sister to an severely deaf/blind/mute 50 yr old whose mother does not want respite she wants an instant sister again changing diapers while mother supervises every move. Room and board provided 24/7 on call.

    My background is office work. One friend works for a large financial company but will not refer me. The pastor’s wife run’s her own dog grooming business but is not willing to train me.

  25. Al*

    For the first time in 32 years I found myself unemployed… It sounds like the beginning of a horror story and could have well become one. After the first three weeks of anger and self doubt passed I went to seek counseling. I was in senior management and managed up to 36 people. The first thing I learned is to drop my attitude, I am no longer in charge. In Canada we have EI (employment insurance) however that did not kick in until months from now. Then came the sleepless nights: How can I pay for my mortgage, my car all my first world issues like internet etc. There was never an “Aha” moment, strange as that may sound. The past year in my job it had become clear that more and more responsibilities were pushed across the pond and that my position was going to be chopped at some point. One does need a degree to understand the politics in a company that “grows” through acquisitions. The second thing I learned was to become humble. I found myself applying for jobs again, it was a humbling experience, sometimes frustrating when I got that overqualified, ageism, coming on too strong. One evening I sat down with my spouse and I asked her to interview me. We did a couple of these and slowly I got more at ease in answering questions that pertained to why I was unemployed. The third thing I exercised was something that had started some 14 months before and that is to redefine myself. I took courses and became certified, which only proofs that I understand the matter. With this knowledge and with the clear understanding that I was in the fall of my employment cycle I revamped my resume and with a much changed attitude I could explain why I was unemployed, that I had a lot to offer to a company and my technical background was now surrounded by certificates and diplomas. Searching for a new position takes at least 6 hours a day and so I split that up in going through the newspaper, job ads online and following up on positions I had applied for. Then I took a two hour break in which I went for lunch (just moving to the kitchen table from my office but no electronics around) and walked to the gym to work out for at least 45 minutes. The three hours during the afternoon were used to network, go out to events that were put on by local IT companies. My job offer did not take long to arrive, it actually arrived just before Christmas and I humbly accepted the position. I really look forward starting this position as it has this great balance between my technical background and managing people, a much smaller team. Ultimately I found this position, that was not advertised, through the networking opportunities and getting referrals from ex-staff members. The position is what they call “a step back” but I am seeing it as a step forward, actually a leap forward. I realized that I did not want to bring my work home, that working 14 hours a day is not something I can see adding to my joy. I know this may sound like a clip from “grandpa is telling a story” but I want to instill that even an old dog can be taught new tricks. It takes a lot of guts to admit that things were not going swimmingly and that I also realized that I did not need my kind of responsibility of working 7 days a week and not being able (allowed) to take more than one week of vacation but only in the slow times. I accepted all this because I thought it would be appreciated by the company I worked for – I was so wrong!! Overall the experience brought me from the picture where I stand in a cornfield, it is pitch black, it is raining, I have no clue how to get out, my cell phone is broken and I am soaked. I yell and nobody hears me, I try to move forward but have no clue where I am going…. To: The sun is shining; I have harvested the corn and I am at peace. Happy New Year.

  26. Hopefull*

    Al & all – I wanted to thank you for your stories, as they resonated with me and found them to be uplifting.

    However (of course), my issue is the ego one – which was mentioned above several times. I dropped down from a senior management position into a new individual contributor role, but it feels that my level of self-worth dropped down also. I know that this is tied to my feeling of where I am with my career – is tied to where I am as a man, husband and father. This probably does not make sense to allot of folks, but it the reality that I live with. I hate to think that it is all a matter of perception, but it is deeper than that. It is like when I, like many others say that “I do not care what others think” – but I do – I care allot.

    Ultimately I feel that it is just a funk from the transition, which will pass – but it shore does take the wind out of your sails some day. However, after reading Al’s post, I think I can see the corn coming up as we speak.

    Well did not want to rant on like a weenie, but I liked the thread and wanted to share my own thoughts and issues…

  27. LBC*

    So very glad to find this thread. I’m 45 and my career choices have been based on what others thought I should do. I take full responsibility for not being stronger. I received my bachelors degree and immediately began a “routine” lower-level support based career. After time I thought I needed a title to validate my worth and others were telling me that I needed to do X so I went back to school. It took me 3 years of leveler courses and 2 years of grad school to get my masters and get my title. I’ve now been working in a health service career for 3 years and I’m absolutely miserable. I wasn’t meant for a full responsibility, higher-level career. I am consumed with guilt regarding the tens of thousands of dollars I racked up in student loans and how much I’m taken away from my family. I long for the days of a routine position where I can leave work at work and take care of my daughters and ailing in-laws. I am going out on a leap of faith and resigning from my position without having a position to go to. I was worried about how I was going to market myself. These posts are invaluable and I will be cutting and pasting comments to use in my resume and during interviews.

  28. Suzi*

    I have been in Upper Management most of my working career. I now want to take on a position with a company that is an 8 hour role. Unfortunately, I am struggling with a cover letter to explain that I am mo longer wish to be in upper management. Does anyone have any advice for me?

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