Dear Matt: I need to start over in my career — make a fresh start. How can I create my own job search and find a job I really want?

Matt says: I have a brother-in-law who recently retired from the Air Force after 20+ years of service. A Master Sergeant, he was one of the most respected men at his base. He was also educated, with a degree in aeronautical engineering and a Master of Science in management. When he retired he wasn’t sure what he was going to do next. While in the Air Force he also worked as a motorcycle safety/training instructor. He enjoyed teaching and considered becoming a math teacher.

It also didn’t matter if the opportunity was part or full-time, short or long-term. He took a job officiating youth/high school basketball. He drove a school bus. He got hired by the railroad (and he got laid off by the railroad). He took a job as a temporary package delivery driver and then landed a permanent job as the facilities manager at one of the coolest motorcycle shops in the Twin Cities. This all happened about one year after retirement.

This is an example of someone not being afraid to take on new challenges. He didn’t limit his job search — he embraced it, looking beyond job titles and beyond focusing on jobs where people with his educational background “traditionally” worked.

There is more than one way to find a job or to start over in your career.

So many job seekers let the market dictate their search, their career and their future. They wait for jobs to open up and then apply, hoping to get noticed because the job title and description “matches” what they’ve done throughout their career. My brother-in-law never worked in the motorcycle industry, but he drove motorcycles and taught motorcycle safety classes and turned that knowledge — combined with the leadership, operations, management, analytical and communication skills learned at other jobs — into a full-time job. You can be sure his stint at the railroad, where he had to quickly learn how to troubleshoot and fix a broken down railroad car, also played a role in getting hired.

That’s how you create opportunities — by focusing on your strengths and passions and learning new skills that can be applied to a wide variety of jobs.

He also wasn’t afraid to fail. Did he know if he would like the railroad job? Not at all. But he did know they liked hiring ex-military workers. Do you know what industries or companies like hiring people with your background? There are many ways to get a job. Some people sit back and send résumés online, hoping to get noticed. Some people are aggressive, focus on their passions and strengths, look beyond job titles and end up in jobs that fit them, not jobs that they have to fit into.

Which one are you?


Contact Matt at