How to fix a stalled career

Hope you can provide some advice on this. My boyfriend is 35 and has a BS in one kind of engineering and an MS in a different type of engineering, good GPAs and good (not great) schools. His problem is that over the past 10 years he has had a really difficult time landing good jobs, and the mediocre/crappy jobs he manages to land, he hasn’t been able to keep. Part of it is based on the economy (several layoffs) but also I think partially it is based on social skills; he doesn’t play the political game very well and he has a lot of integrity, which is good for engineering design in theory, but bad for you when you have to tell people their designs suck. He’s very intelligent and from what I can tell, has the capability to be very technically strong, if he could just find a good job match. Right now he lacks anything but entry level experience. He is working right now in a temp job for a flailing company that could basically shut down any day, and he’ll have to go through the whole process again.

The past 10 years have created such fear in him that he is paralyzed when it comes to job searching. He cannot bring himself to do it because his fear of rejection and/or failure is so intense and strong. I guess dealing with it the past 10 years has been very difficult, and it partially contributed to the end of his last marriage.

How would you recommend he proceed? Should he get a career coach? Where/how do you find one who is any good? He needs someone to help him get over this paralysis and coach him through to a good result, but I have no idea where I should point him to to even start. Do you have any you can recommend? We’re in/around the Denver area but willing to work over the internet/phone long distance. I would even pay for it, I think perhaps a kickstart is what he needs but not sure where to find something good; I don’t want to just throw money away. What kinds of jobs should he apply for; due to his spotty entry level experience, it’s hard to find something better than that that he qualifies for, but he seems to be loathe to apply for yet another entry level position. Perhaps a resume writer would be helpful as well.

1 reply
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    This email reveals more about you than the boyfriend. This question is about what you are concerned with, actions you’d like to take, goals you’d like to set. Unfortunately the email is not about your own life, it’s about your boyfriend’s life. Adult relationships are not fulfilling when one person is running the other person’s life.

    So, I think you should let him run his own career. If he wants coaching or a resume service he should find that himself. And if he wants it, he should pay for it.

    You are not going to be able to change him or help him be better at work. The best thing to do for him is to accept him how he is, which is probably nearly unemployable because of poor social skills. If you don’t want to be with a guy like that, don’t try to change him. Get a new boyfriend.

    And, if you don’t want to get a new boyfriend, try working as hard on improving yourself as you are working on improving your boyfriend. Why do you pick a guy who you think is incompetent at running his own life? That’s an important question for you to answer.


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