A lot of job seekers are wisely using their transitional time to seek new skills, certifications and competencies. Whether shifting to a new field or shoring up abilities in an old one, it makes sense never to stop learning and growing.
But there’s been a lot of news coverage lately about a disturbing trend during the current downturn. A recent CBS news story points out how some for-profit colleges lure anxious job seekers into programs for which they have to borrow heavily for tuition, only to find themselves no better off in the job market. While a Wall Street Journal article, titled “New skills, few job offers”, focuses on people who spent their time, money, and energy to retrain, but still struggle to find work. Before you spend the time and money for a new degree, certification, or trade, here are some things to consider:
Reputation. Is the learning institution accredited? Does it have a reputation that will open doors for you? Track down other grads and learn from their experiences. LinkedIn makes it easy to search by school.
An open field? The Wall Street Journal article notes that crowds of unemployed are retraining for the burgeoning medical field only to find that while the field is growing, jobs are still very scarce. Worse, when jobs do open up, the field is flooded. Before you invest in new skills or switch fields, be sure this is truly a fruitful direction.
Is the diploma necessary? Find out if that really matters in your field. Again, network and connect with those who do the kind of work you want to be doing. One trade school grad said he would have learned just as much by interning in his field and skipping the degree. Most importantly, some hiring managers might take no accounts for degrees from some of these for-profit schools.
The hard sell. If you get a hard sell or hear promises too good to be true, consider that a significant red flag.
Drowning in debt. For-profit schools are highly adept at working the student-aid system. They sometimes lead their students down the path of huge debt at graduation, and no job to pay off that debt.
For many unemployed workers it makes sense to sharpen skills and explore new job fields. But approach it with caution. Avoid putting yourself into a worse financial situation. Your time could be used more wisely by furthering your skills in other ways.
Have you retrained, received certification or picked up a trade? Did it pay off? Have you considered any of the above? What factors did you consider? We’d love to hear your experience.