Author Topic: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long  (Read 2036 times)

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CharlieBraun

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Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« on: January 29, 2013, 04:33:09 PM »
Hello all.

Quite out of the blue, I received an email at work from a former colleague and somewhat friend, from a previous location and position.  He, (I'll call him Pete) I, and a third person owed an expensive software system together for a few years, teamed up on some contract assignments, and worked together.  That situation disbanded over 15 years ago.  The third person died last year in a freak accident, and Pete and I had an email exchange over the death and funeral arrangements.  Prior to that, I'd had no contact with him for literally years and another acquaintance had told me that Pete had died (which each of us admitted was not a surprise given some of his behavior.)

A bit of background: my profession is one in which there are varying levels of licensing (mandatory) and certifications (voluntary.)  I chose to go for voluntary certifications after getting the mandatory basic licensing, as well as several professional designations, and I obtained an MBA along the way.  Pete got the basic level of licensing, and although he was a candidate for the higher certifications and designations, he never completed them and, in fact, took the view that they were a waste.  He also has had a lot of really great opportunities that came his way, that he squandered.  One example was the opportunity to present findings to a government-based public commission in a hearing-type situation.  (One prepares a report, appears before the commission for a particular economic position usually in opposition to another and a decision rendered.)  He was engaged to prepare two reports on two separate issues.  He completed the first and submitted it, then showed up both drunk and hungover to the commission; he never delivered the second report.  In another instance, he was recruited for and obtained a very nice position as a reviewer of other work product.  He didn't want to give up his business of creating the work product, so for one week he did the review job while trying to run the production business.  On Tuesday of the second week, he just never showed up to the review job.

Now it's 16+ years on, and he's nearing age 60.  He left one specialty of the business to enter another, dropping all of his licensing for the first specialty.  The second specialty completely dried up and he's having trouble getting "back" into the first. 

(sorry for the length)

Last week, he sent me an email.  He wanted to know if I could recommend a program that he could take, like graduate school or a few courses, to make a career shift to essentially reviewing the product rather than producing it.

I really can't advise him on this.  I can tell him what I did all those years ago, getting the designations and the MBA, but I was in my twenties then and he knows that I did those things.  I could tell him that when we, in my current firm, are seeking candidates to do the analysis that he is considering, we look to hire them out of undergrad or graduate school, and that he would be wasting his time (assuming he stuck with it.)  I don't want to take on the position of being his advisor because, frankly, I did do that back then and he neither accepted nor appreciated my counsel.

What I want to do, basically, is punt.

Could you help me edit this suggested email to him?

"Hello Pete, it's been a few years since I was in school and I'm not up to date on the programs and outcomes.  I'd suggest registering at This Professional Forum (www.thisprofessionalforum dot whatever) which has a very active board where you could pose this question and receive better answers.  Good luck, CB."

Refinements?  Questions?  Ignore altogether?  I'd appreciate any advice.
"We ate the pies."

chigrrl1

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Re: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2013, 05:00:22 PM »
I think that's a good reply.  That said, if this guy has a bad reputation in your field that could reflect poorly on you, I would consider ignoring him in fear that he will attempt to keep up contact for networking purposes.

buvezdevin

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Re: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 05:18:23 PM »
I think your emails as drafted is considerate, to the point and offers him a suggestion he can choose to take or not for getting more information.

As you are still in the field, and his practical options seem few, you may want to be prepared for him to come back and ask for further advice or job referrals.  I don't know that it would or would not be helpful to tell him that regardless of his previous experience, training he undertakes now would be unlikely to make him a desirable candidate to your current company for the role he is seeking.   I would guess that is due to it being a position which is usually entry level for those with the right training, and a company would want someone with a longer prospective career path for developing and enhancing skills.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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Margo

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Re: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2013, 07:51:10 AM »
I think your response sounds great, and if he presses you for more you can simply repeat it "As I said, I'm not up to date on those issues and am not in a position to offer you any advice."

bopper

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Re: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2013, 08:59:05 AM »
I like your response. You are acknowledging his question, but giving him the gentle brush off and actual hint for where he could get info.

Winterlight

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Re: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 09:37:35 AM »
That email is fine. You don't want to get in the position of career counselor.
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Re: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 10:04:31 PM »
Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but just for clarification, you *thought* Pete was dead, but he's not? 

And the email you've written here sounds just fine.

CharlieBraun

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Re: Past acquaintance wants career advice - long
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 09:10:09 AM »
Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but just for clarification, you *thought* Pete was dead, but he's not? 

And the email you've written here sounds just fine.

Exactly.  Another mutual acquaintance with whom I remain in touch back in that state (halfway across the country but where I used to live) had called me to catch up, and he said "did you hear that Pete died?  One of my employees told me that he saw his obituary, blah blah" and we talked about that for about a minute, that it was sad but not surprising given the uneven life he'd lived.  Then we moved on to talking about the gonzo who was running for national president of our professional organization.

I was, of course, surprised when I found out (when the third friend actually did die), that Pete was still alive.  But of course, didn't say "heard you were dead."  Thought that might be, um, not nice.
"We ate the pies."