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Marketers leave the industry but where do they go?

Marketers continue to move on to new career challenges with issues such as youth and life balance playing a part, but what is it they go to do and why do they decide to move on? Industry career coach Jon Mitchell has some answers.

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I worked in the marketing world for seven years, moving on to run my own marketing recruitment agency for four years. Over that time I developed a large number of relationships with marketers. As time has passed a number of them have moved on to new careers for various reasons, but what have they gone on to do?

This is a question I am repeatedly asked, and now finally in my capacity as a career transition coach, I feel I may be in some position to answer it. The first question I would like to pose though is what are the common driving forces behind making the changes?

Marketing, especially on the agency side, is a very youthful industry. If you generally aren't at a senior position or running your own agency by your mid to late 30's then it is often time to consider other options.

On the client-side, once you have reached the heights of marketing director, and if you have the passion and drive to go further, what options do you have open to you? There are options of course, but often they are limited.

Burn-out is also another key consideration. Marketers can work extremely long hours, resulting in them wanting or needing to make a change. The internet and email has been a positive revolution in so many ways, but with it has come the need for employees to often be accessible for longer periods of time, and to cover greater volumes of work. This isn't a problem isolated to marketing, but a growing concern across a number of industries. The number of people who have studies at home and who work in the evenings has dramatically increased in the last few years.

Quality of life and work/life balance are also reasons for making changes that I often come across. Work/life balance is a term that is often banded around, and something that the current working generation is thinking long and hard about. We now work longer hours than most countries in Europe, and a lot of people are starting to question that. They want to spend more time with partners and families, want to see children grow up, have more leisure time, move away from city life etc.

Wanting to be your own boss, control your own destiny, get away from the politics often associated with big business and work in a flexible environment are other reasons. With the advent of email, the internet and wireless communications, more and more people are choosing where they want to work. I am an example of this as I sit writing this article looking out of my window at a beautiful Devon coastline -- I work from offices in London and Devon, and for me it provides the perfect balance.

Sometimes marketers become disillusioned with the industry. They lose the feeling that they are "making a worthwhile and real difference" and want to get that feeling back. I also have clients who are simply looking for a new challenge. Their career in marketing has run its natural course and they are looking for a completely new set of experiences and challenges.

Maybe surprisingly, but a move is not often driven by financial needs. In fact finance often comes low down on the list of priorities.

So what is it they move on to do?

When we train in marketing we develop a broad range of business skills which can be transferred very successfully to a range of careers, so not surprisingly marketers move on to a whole range of new things.

I recently worked with a client called Lisa who was a group account director at a large marketing agency in central London. She had become disillusioned and unhappy with the way her life was going -- long working hours, stress, commuting into the West End, "living on the run" as she put it. She no longer enjoyed the buzz and excitement of agency life. She wanted to make some big changes but didn't know what to do.

Lisa is passionate about food and cooking, and through working with Lisa we established what her priorities were -- what she really wanted from her career and her life.

I received a postcard from Lisa just over a week ago. She has just opened a little but upmarket B&B and restaurant on the waterfront in a small Greek fishing village. In the postcard, she told me how much she is enjoying her new life and how her marketing skills are proving to be invaluable in attracting clients. She even offered me a discount if I went to stay, an offer I am more than likely to take up.

Careers that marketers go on to do range from working in property (eg residential property development, running ski chalets and gites in France) and food and beverage (eg running restaurants, B&Bs abroad and at home, hotels) to management consultancy, estate agency, running a garden centre, working in the not for profit sector, teaching (marketing lecturer, primary and secondary school etc.), human resources, running a flower or antiques shop and of course in my case career coaching.

If you feel you are at the point where you need or want to make a change in your career but are unsure what to do, don't be disheartened... with the skills you have developed as a marketer the world is your oyster.

Jon Mitchell is a career coach who specialises in career transition coaching for marketers.

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