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Dear Stephen, 

It’s a new year and time for a new job for me. I’m on the hunt. 

I’m currently employed. I have a good job, but it’s just not good enough. I don’t see career advancement in my current role, I just see more income because of increased sales, and I’m tired of being just a salesperson. When you work at a dealer or a manufacturer, if you’re selling and making good money – it’s a catch-22; bosses never want you to leave, they just want you to sell!

The furniture industry is notorious for not having advancement opportunities, just income opportunities! 

Many of my friends from other industries think I’m crazy because they would love a job where they could just increase their income by selling more and not having to take on more responsibility. However, I don’t feel satisfied professionally anymore. For a number of years, it was great, and now, I’m bored. 

I’m a bit torn because in order to move ahead, chances are I would need to relocate to corporate. Right now, I’m at a manufacturer, and I’d need to relocate to Grand Rapids, which is not happening. (I live in Dallas). Any suggestions?


Dormant in Dallas


Dear Dormant, 

What you’re saying is true. In the contract furniture industry, you could increase your income and perhaps get an increased “sounding” title, but it’s difficult to get additional responsibility in an industry that’s set up to produce more income, not necessarily more management opportunities. 

Simply put, it’s the nature of the contract furniture industry – be it a dealer or a manufacturer. Anytime someone writes to me this question, I always explain to them it’s time to consider moving into a new industry. I also suggest they consider an industry outside of their comfort zone, and one of my top tips is to find businesses that are local to the geography in which you’re located. Why is that important? Well, because the more interesting jobs are typically at headquarters, and if you’re in the city of a company’s headquarters, chances are, you’re going to start at a higher level. 

Most other industries are more welcoming of people outside of the box than the office furniture industry is. That’s why I suggest going outside your comfort zone. 

Keep in mind, in order to make this change, you may have to take salary negotiations off the table because you have no track record in this new industry. Instead, if you’re looking to make a career change, craft your resume and LinkedIn profile to look more generic and focus on the skills you have that are more universal and versatile to other industries. In other words – rebuild your whole “brand”. After you do all of that – interview away!

And one more recommendation. If a specific job is especially interesting to you, take the time before the interview to revise your resume to show how your skillset might apply to that company and that position. It will improve your chances of landing the job. 

2023 is the best time to change careers and change industries. At least make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to try!