Getting Paid to Talk About Your Job; New Company Seeks Experts
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney brought up the need to re-train Americans for new careers during Wednesday's presidential debate.
Still, making a job switch in a tough economy can be a challenge.
That's why a new company, launched Wednesday, is designed to give job seekers practical advice from experts in the fields they want to enter.
According to company creator Brian Kurth, PivotPlanet (http://www.pivotplanet.com) is the only global exchange helping people looking to "pivot" from an existing career or hone their skills by connecting them with advisors in hundreds of fields via one-hour, live video and phone conferences.
Kurth says the company has "curated" hundreds of high-quality expert advisors across hundreds of professions, but he's still looking for more.Those interested in mentoring can apply by completing an advisor questionnaire at: https://www.pivotplanet.com/expert-intake-survey.
Kurth says that advisors set their own rates and availability (can be at night or on the weekends, when not at work).
Thursday morning, Matty O'Reilly, the owner of Republic restaurant near the University of Minnesota, was chatting via Skype with web designer Becky Wiberding. Wiberding, who lives in Oregon, dreams of opening "a small bakery cafe" and selected O'Reilly to be her PivotPlanet mentor. He charges $120 an hour.
Wiberding picked O'Reilly's brain, listened to his insights, absorbed his experience. Afterwards, she said, "Having direct contact with someone who is in the industry currently, and who knows the industry in and out--I think that makes a big difference."
Matty's best advice? "Create that foundation of 'if everything goes perfectly, this is the way it looks'," he said, adding, "you also need to be prepared for 'if all the wheels fall off, this is how it looks.' You really need to manage your expectations."
Kurth says all the mentors are thoroughly vetted. "we have only taken on 10 percent of those folks who have applied," he said.
The key question, though--is the service worth the price?
"It helps you decide 'is this the direction I want to go?'" Kurth explained. "Is it the answer, is it the cure-all? Probably not in an hour. But you can determine 'is this something I want to pursue further?'"
"It's just a way to test the waters," said Dr. Sally Power. She's a former University of St. Thomas professor who wrote a book called "The Mid Career Success Guide: Planning for the Second Half of Your Working Life." She says trying to re-define one's professional identity can be risky.
"Most people who've done research on this say it takes between one and five years. It's changing your identity. And so you should really look at it, particularly in the early stages, as an experiment. You shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket. Leave things tentative, so that if it's not working in a couple months, you can get out."
Change can be good, she says, but it's also sometimes very hard.
Before signing off from her Skype chat with O'Reilly, Wiberding seemed to sense that she had a long road ahead of her. "He kind of gave me a reality check and showed me there are two sides to this coin," she said, "which was really really helpful."
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org