Moms Returning to Work . . . and The Trades? | JobSearchTV.com

Many people have assumptions about what Jobs for Moms look like, especially when they return to the workplace. Ariana Dugan and I have a great conversation about this.

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Jeff Altman 

My guest today is Ariana Dugan. Ariana has spent over a decade in organizations such as Europe, General Assembly, and now as VP of product at Interplay Learning, working with a team that develops training simulations and VR learning experiences, to build on the job trade skills designed to help adults get the skills they need to be employed in today’s job market. Arianna, welcome. Thanks for making time today.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Thanks so much, Jeff. I’m really happy to be here.

 

Jeff Altman 

Glad you feel that way, I feel the same back at you. So with that, folks, we’re gonna be talking about trade skills and watch this one, because this one is going to surprise you. Moms returning to the workforce. Woo So this is a topic no one talks about. But it’s one that for those of you who’ve been out of the labor market for a while, it’s a big opportunity for you. So let me first start as in trade skills? Really?

 

Ariana Dugan 

It might sound a little out of left field. But hear me out. There’s there, these are important jobs. To start out with skilled trade workers keep the lights on the water in your homes, pipes slowing the heat may see functioning, right, these are important jobs that we might not notice. But when the people aren’t there to fix it, it’s a big problem.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Secondly, this is a great career to go into, because there’s such a labor shortage in trade skills. So you don’t already have to know how to fix everything in your home in order to be successful in these jobs,

 

Jeff Altman 

Which will make the other people in your home happy if you’ll learn how to do that.

 

Ariana Dugan 

 exactly exactly that to that too. So double benefits everywhere, and you get to learn on the job. So you don’t have to know it all now, because there’s such a labor shortage, you can learn on the job. Companies want to hire people with a great attitude, who have an aptitude for this kind of work, but you don’t have to know it all coming in. Or even close to it all. Now, specifically to the part on the mom’s side.

 

Jeff Altman 

I’m gonna get to that in a second.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah. Okay. Great.

 

Jeff Altman 

So the fun part of this is, what kinds of trades are these? What kind of professions are they?

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Ariana Dugan 

Absolutely, absolutely. So we’re talking about doing electric work, plumbing work, H back work. There’s people who work in residential homes. So you know, coming to my house and fixing my H vac system when it doesn’t turn on in the winter, or even bigger commercial buildings. There’s lots of different types of companies that you can work at and do this type of skilled trades work.

 

Jeff Altman 

The plumbers, will the women have to have the traditional plumber belt and problem associated, is that part of the new job description.

 

Ariana Dugan 

I mean, it could if that’s your style, you can go for it. But I think women in the trades can make it what they want, you know where, where what works for you.  There’s funnily enough, a company that I know of that is it’s women owned women run there’s it’s only women plumbers, and they very much kind of base that idea on, for women like me who might not feel comfortable having someone come into the house that they don’t know, sometimes it feels safer to have a woman coming. So just having more women plumbers in the workforce is great, let alone make it more fashionable.

 

Jeff Altman 

Thank goodness. And folks, we all know what I was talking about there, right? So Mom’s going to work doing this. I’ve been out of the labor force for 7, 8, 9 years, however long it’s been six years, whatever. And now I’m going to become a electrician. An HVAC person, a plumber. Like the only thing I know how to do is turn on the thermostat. Like how does this work?

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Ariana Dugan 

Funny enough. It’s funny that you say that because turning on and off the thermostat is actually one of the first things you are doing in a lot of troubleshooting scenarios. So not even joking. If that’s all you can do, you’re starting. But what’s great is there are a lot of different types of programs that can get you up to speed on what you need to learn. Companies, like I said, are hiring people with the right attitude and the right aptitude for this kind of work. They’re hiring apprentice and assistant positions in order to get people up to speed. So there’s these very intentional training programs baked in already at a lot of companies. There’s also you know, technical schools and colleges and other programs that you can go to if you’re more comfortable getting a more formal education. And especially for women, though, there’s a lot of great NGOs and nonprofits that are trying to get more women into the programs. There are grants and other opportunities to pay for school. If you feel nervous about going straight to a company potentially.

 

Jeff Altman 

Any particular underlying education that someone needs in order to be suitable for this? High school degree, any sort of college like what does someone need to know walking in?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, yeah, you definitely do not need a college education, I have a cousin actually, who decided to do this work instead of going to college. So I can can speak from my family base that don’t need a college education. A lot of what matters actually in this field, over time is getting certified, but those certifications you can get on the job. So the training is all really embedded within the companies. And I would say if you’re someone who likes working with your hands, if you’re someone who likes math, and maybe enjoyed a physics class or two, you don’t have to be, you know, a super smart, you know, scientist who’s sending people to the moon. But if you just get the basics of math, and physics, I think a lot of that is really helpful too. And you’ll probably probably enjoy it a lot If you like working with your hands.

 

Jeff Altman 

interesting. Math and physics. Like for which of these trades does that work in? And what do you need to know about math and physics to make this all work?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, yeah. So again, I want to make it so clear that these jobs are approachable. So you can and will learn this on the job. But a lot of what you’re learning along the way is, first, how does this system work? So when you’re an HVAC technician, and you’re learning to become an HVAC technician, you have to understand, you know, there’s the condenser, the compressor, and you know, the, the airflow through the system, right? Just understanding how does air flow through different parts of the system, and what components cool, and heat up that air along the way, just understanding that to begin with, is the kind of level of physics that I’m talking about. So that’s one. And then as you progress, you start to learn more about, okay, if I change this part over here, that is what’s going to make that’s going to unblock what is preventing the air from flowing through the system right now. So you start to move from understanding the system to understanding then how you change it to improve the conditions. So that’s the business part. The math part actually comes into play a lot on the electric side. So understanding voltage, and how the voltage changes or not, and what’s safe and what’s not is a big part of it, too. So you don’t hurt yourself when you’re when you’re working with electricity.

 

Jeff Altman 

Good idea not to do that.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, yeah, it is. I mean, like, it’s not a joke. So a lot of the companies that I know of do great job making sure that their their people are safe and really understand the basics on their their training equipment before they let them touch live electricity and are are working with mentors along the way. So they can know what to look out for and know all the right safety checks.

 

Jeff Altman 

Surprised. You know, I’ve interviewed people who run programs in manufacturing. Again, what people think of is manufacturing and what a manufacturing floor is like, is out of the 19th century. And our manufacturing is very different. Of course, it’s very much an electronics job. And I can understand how HVAC, and electrical work. I don’t know about plumbing just because I don’t know about plumbing.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, yeah,

 

Jeff Altman 

I can I can understand how some of these professions have also transitioned. And they’re not what they once were. Is that what you see?

 

Ariana Dugan 

It’s a mix. Actually, there’s there’s one aspect of it where things don’t change as quickly right buildings, any given building isn’t changing every year, right? A building gets torn up and rebuilt once maybe every 50 years. So there’s a part of it that stays the same and thus makes these very stable jobs participate in as compared to like, software development where there’s constantly new things coming that you have to learn. What has started to change in terms of different components of the work is if you think about smart appliances in the home, right your your dishwasher and your frigerator might even be talking to you these days. If not, they’re probably doing a lot more beeping than they did in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. So understanding those smart appliances, the Nest thermostat, and how that changes some of the details of the work is where there’s some some shifts along the way.

 

Jeff Altman 

Interesting, because I do remember, like, early pandemic, and the conversations about smart refrigerators. Yes. And that they would be connected in some way to a supermarket, where it would tell the store what it needed to stock for you.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, yeah. That would be cool. One day. We’re not quite there. WClose, hopefully very close. For sure. The other part I didn’t mention in terms of what also does change that people have to keep up to speed on is codes. I’d say that’s sometimes regional, sometimes national. But that’s the other part that people do have to, to keep up on with their jobs outside of the fun stuff like smart homes and smart appliances.

 

Jeff Altman 

When you say codes, you’re speaking in terms of building codes, for example, and other sorts of regulatory requirements, a state, a city, a town might have implemented in order to ensure compliance with whatever?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yes, there’s, there’s those kinds of codes. And there’s also, for example, electric codes that change every three years nationally, that the electrician, as a trades person needs to understand. It’s now more appropriate to work with this kind of material than that kind of material when you’re working with conduits. So it’s a new materials honestly come into the market in terms of what’s being used to build and maintain buildings that can change codes. Environmental regulations is another good example of federal where the refrigerants change. There’s, there’s a big one happening right now. So people have to change the fluids, change the refrigerants, and learning how to do that is now going to be part of a tradesperson’s skill set.

 

Jeff Altman 

Interesting. So what is training like, like, a typical day while you’re in training? Are you going to a school generally like always learning?  Doing something remote in that way, because I assume people are not flying them to you. You have curriculum, am I wrong?

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Ariana Dugan 

We have curriculum, but we are not a physical school, we are fully online, and we have simulations. So if you were, if you were using our training program, you would be employed at a company who has said, I really like training my people hands on, I know, I need to train them. And I’ve now got 20 people coming in the door. And I can’t have all 20 of them standing around my, you know, Master tech, they cannot see what’s going on. So I need a more scalable way to do that. So that’s a quick explanation of what Interplay Learning is and what we do. But we’re certainly not the only experience out there in terms of what training ism looks like. There is that very hands on part that companies are almost always doing and supplementing our curriculum with. And what that looks like is some companies do have lab environments where there’s, you know, fake modeled setups, that you’re going through to troubleshoot equipment. A lot of what they’re teaching you in those training programs is how to problem solve and figure out what’s wrong, right? That’s often the hardest part and the most time consuming part. So they’re giving you reps on troubleshooting, problem solving, understanding what could be wrong to shorten that time and then also teaching you how to go in and fix it. So that’s, that’s the core of it. As you can imagine, there’s a ton of variability in terms of the types of scenarios that you see and need to learn about. So that’s where some of our own online training can help because you don’t have to wait to encounter something in the field. You get to you know, just pick the simulation out of the platform. And, there is also a very real field component of actually going out and doing it. And as I mentioned, there are mentors and more experienced techs that you are working with shadowing, doing bits and pieces of what they’re doing along the way before being asked to totally go out on your own for a job.

 

Jeff Altman 

It’s interesting because mentally I’ve been starting to think about some of the people have come to my house to do repairs.

 

Jeff Altman 

Yes, yes. I would say most people at our company often talk to the people who come and do repairs at their house and asked if we can take photos of what they’re doing, learn more about it. But a lot of times they are they do, you know, have to go to YouTube or go to an online forum just to get a quick refresh on what they’re encountering. Because of that level of variability, right? Houses have many, many different ages of systems and setups and systems in order to keep them running. So one, one tech can’t know it all. There’s lots of resources out there.

 

Jeff Altman 

It’s very obvious.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah.

 

Jeff Altman 

And, for women, during training, and we have mom with kids at home, and she’s gone for training, what’s a typical day going to look like?

 

Ariana Dugan 

on the training side, so if you’re training at a company, it is a little bit more of a formal schedule, especially if that company is bringing a few new folks in at the same time. But as you progress past, it’s usually about a 90 day onboarding and formal training process for new new folks that are coming in, after that, you start to go out in the field a little bit more. So I can’t say I know for sure whether you can bring your kid to work with you for that onboarding. What probably would be cool, probably would help their future education and job prospects. But I can say that, as you start to be more advanced, and know more skills for yourself and get sent out onto jobs, that’s when your schedule you know, you can can start to be a little bit more flexible. Location is also flexible, not because the work is remote, but this work is needed all over the place. So if you wanted to move somewhere closer to family for childcare as well, that’s far more feasible in this job maybe than others that that are very location based.

 

Jeff Altman 

I live in western North Carolina. And this is a market area for the trades that’s huge. We have a lot of retirees. And none of them know how to do anything. They’d rather than just write a check.

 

Ariana Dugan 

To be fair, I do not yet know how to do a lot in my house, and I’m not a retiree.

 

Jeff Altman 

But all the firms in the area lament that they can’t find people. They will cannibalize one another. And they all try to figure out how to get people to move here. And it’s hard because, you know, housing prices have gone up a lot in recent years, yada, yada, yada. And thus, the dilemma is where we find people that were even going to train, let alone like we’d love to get some experienced folks, but we’ve kind of gone through the cycle of everyone in the area. So like, what do we do? So, obviously, there’s a future in this. I’m curious what kind of hourly rates or salaries people earn. And I understand that there are geographic differences. Like, if you’re working in New York, on a large construction project, building a high rise building, that’s one thing versus you’re going into people’s apartments is another, or you’re in my area, which is a lower cost area than New York, or Chicago or Miami. So any sort of a sense of what someone earns doing this?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yes. Um, so the national average, I’m glad you brought up all those examples, because this average is an average of that high variability, national average starts at $16 an hour for this job. That’s like, when you’re just starting out at that very apprentice level, you can progress rapidly after that, you know, 25, 30, beyond,  dollars an hour. As you continue to add skills, certification, joining the union can sometimes influence how much you make. So, lots of lots of growth potential, both in terms of pay and career development, which is some of those companies that we’re talking about having the problem of cannibalizing employees across different companies,. As, I,  the ones that can focus more and more on internal career development and making it clear what that path is, hopefully, I have a little bit better retention. And then that’s also great for the people who are there to know exactly what are what, how much can I make and what do I need to learn in order to make more?

 

Jeff Altman 

And where do the union show up in this because you mentioned in passing that union membership will tend to cause someone to earn more, you’re paying some dues, obviously, but for people who are . .  .Is it the high rise projects that are unionized?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, I’ll be honest, I am not an expert on unions. I do know that it does influence pay, but There’s lots of lots of different organizations and companies you can join, and really certifications that you can get that can increase your pay the most, I don’t know that a union necessarily changes the type of work that you’re doing. It more changes the standards of the type of work that you’re doing, when it comes to pay when it comes to safety when it comes to other agreements and whatnot.

 

Jeff Altman 

You don’t know when you’re going to be watching this. Two years from now, if we were . . . if I asked a follow up about the certifications someone should get two years from now, they could be very different. So I’m not going to ask that follow up question. Just start, if you decide to explore this, find out from people you talk to who are in the fields, what certifications are valued, then. So that we’re not suggesting you get a certification in something that’s from the antiquities that’s obsolete. It isn’t going to benefit you because by that time, there are now 2 million people certified in that particular function or training or what have you.

 

Ariana Dugan 

What I will say, with fair confidence is that in 2024, OSHA will probably still be a thing. So being OSHA certified is a good thing. And there’s a couple EPA, EPA certification for environmental protection, that a lot of folks so some of those federal ones are pretty constant over time or national ones, though I agree. Both based on location and time, how far we are into the future. What you add on to that changes.

 

Jeff Altman 

So catch that one. The federal certs will probably stay in place. They may be upgraded in some way. And what I also heard was environmental certifications. Did I catch that correctly?

 

Ariana Dugan 

 Yes, yes.

 

Jeff Altman 

Just making sure. I don’t want to send people down the wrong path, because you’re gonna be polite guest. You probably won’t correct me.

 

Ariana Dugan 

I’m trying, I’m trying, you know, to be a less polite guest, maybe that’ll be my goal for the rest of the episode.

 

Jeff Altman 

We just care about the audience getting what they need and entertaining them along the way. So, we’ve spoken or in passing, about plumbing, electrical work, HVAC> What other sorts of trades are there that people could look into?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, there’s certainly on the automotive side and automotive repair. There’s more new construction, and a lot of what I was talking about with HVAC, electrical, plumbing sometimes can be more focused on fixing, but there’s a whole other like, building and installing side of things. That’s relevant as well. So lots lots of variety, honestly. And it just depends on the the size of the organization and how many techs they have that changes what what a person might encounter.

 

Jeff Altman 

I think we’ve all seen the cars have changed a lot. And they’re now technology hubs, as well as things with motors and wheels, fenders and things like that. So when people get trained on automotive, what sort of training does that involve? Is it interpretinging the diagnostics and then affecting the change? Like, I’m ignorant. I have no idea.

 

Ariana Dugan 

You know what, I’m also ignorant. That’s actually an area that we haven’t focused on yet. So I would be totally making it up and for the sake of the audience, and not giving them false information. Go down that path. See, she stopped being polite.

 

Ariana Dugan 

I think, I think unfortunately, I still sounded polite.

 

Jeff Altman 

but you told the truth. That’s all it really matters. We didn’t we didn’t send them down the wrong road. So we’ve got a couple of different kinds of trades. And once someone is through training, we’re past the $16 an hour stuff, let’s say they’re an age factors. What’s the typical day like? Like? Let me back up since we’re talking about returning moms, how strong, do you have to be for some of these professions?

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Ariana Dugan 

That’s a really good question. I’m sure if you were in construction, that would be a very different level of strength, right? The minimum requirement of being able to lift at least 50 pounds, I’m sure would be in there. But if you’re talking about doing more of the, you know, maintenance and troubleshooting side of things,

 

Jeff Altman 

The residential work.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Exactly the residential work, um, there will be times where you would need someone to help if you were to install a whole new boiler system because I think it’s big and heavy but on a day to day, like I said, a lot of what you’re doing is problem solving, turning things on and off. You know, measuring, you know, the voltage of a particular part of the system. So you don’t have, you aren’t doing a ton of lifting necessarily, you’re problem solving, you’re getting into small parts of the system, rewiring, you know, sending a camera down a plumbing pipe to see what’s what’s doing the blockage. So not a lot of lifting necessarily in a day to day.

 

Jeff Altman 

You know, with job descriptions I’ve seen for IT positions, it’s pretty common for the last line to be must be able to lift 50 pounds.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Mm hmm.

 

Jeff Altman 

So I was curious if there was something comparable? And it seems like there will be in certain ways, but the real (grunt) is in commercial.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah. Commercial and new construction, as well. Right. So you could be when you’re building a new residential building, there’s a lot of new pieces of equipment that you’ll need to be bringing in.

 

Jeff Altman 

Gatcha. What other trades are there that we we haven’t spoken about? Or identified yet? In this conversation?

 

Ariana Dugan 

We’re really are hitting on a lot of the core ones. Solar, I guess, is kind a component part that’s, you know, related to homes and residential buildings. But certainly being able to  troubleshoot a solar system, and for some companies, install solar panels and whatnot is a newish thing.

 

Jeff Altman 

Is that something that you feel comfortable discussing?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Oh, gosh, I love it.

 

Jeff Altman 

And if the answer, if the answer is no, that’s fine. But I

 

Ariana Dugan 

No, I know, I know, a little I know a little more about solar than I do about automotive.

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Jeff Altman 

Great. What can you tell the viewers and listeners about what it’s like to work as a Solar Tech?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yeah, I am also the proud owner of solar solar panels as well.  can tell, I can tell you what I observed. I had them come over to do some maintenance, right. So part of part of that solar panel work is maintenanceSometimes you’ll have to go up and just like wipe the surface off, you know, every six months. You can have techs come over and do that. So I would say probably can’t be afraid of heights to be a super successful solar technician because you are getting up on the roof. So yeah, but a little bit, it’s like very basic, just cleaning. And then as you can imagine, a lot of electrical work up there to to connect the system to the house and the generator and also the electric grid for the city.

 

Jeff Altman 

That’s interesting. So in addition to the panels and what have you, it’s the connection to the grid. There’s electrical work that’s involved with it. What kind of salary do people earn or rate do people earn doing the solar work?

 

Ariana Dugan 

That one I don’t know, specifically how solar differentiates from the other ones. I do know, there are a lot, obviously more federal incentive programs for folks to get solar panels and for companies to do the installation. But I do know those agreements are fairly complex. I don’t know that I can give you a good, straight answer on on it for an individual tech.

 

Jeff Altman 

That’s okay. So what haven’t we covered yet that we really should as part of this conversation?

 

Unknown Speaker 

I think, honestly, a big part of we haven’t talked about benefits, right? We touched a little bit on the stability of jobs. But I do want to emphasize the point that these jobs are stable, and then the benefits as well.

 

Jeff Altman 

Excellent. What kind of benefits do people earn at small firms, large firms, any sense of that?

 

Ariana Dugan 

I couldn’t, I couldn’t differentiate. I have a lot of averages, unfortunately. But now I’m going to go bit by bit into my segments better. I mean, like your I shouldn’t say traditional because unfortunately, it isn’t as traditional as we all might wish it were. So you’re, you know, medical, dental, vision, you know, you need to be physically healthy to do these jobs. And so companies are aware that if my my tech can’t work, I can’t make money for my business. So your traditional medical benefits, the flexible hours, the flexible locations, that I mentioned are also a big part of it, as well along with the career progression side of things. So there’s both longevity in your career and longevity and just like the existence of your jobs, as well, because these will always be needed.

 

Jeff Altman 

And I’ll point out, if you and your husband, wife or partner, decide that you’re gonna move to another part of the country. There are jobs that are there, too, and you can start your own business doing this as well, and start marketing yourself and we’re not going to go down that road today.

 

Ariana Dugan 

That’s true. Yeah. I mean, like a lot of people after they go, you know, years and years, your training programs at companies, if they’ve got a knack for running a business themselves do sometimes just start their own business also. So that’s, you know, something that folks are interested in, there’s definitely folks who take that pathway as well, after they’ve, they’ve learned the nuts and bolts of the job.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Join a BNI chapter. Go there every week, pitch your business, you have other people selling for you. So it’s not just you. Lots of different ways that you can start your business. This has been wonderful. How can people find out more about you the work that you do your firm? Tell us?

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Ariana Dugan 

Thank you, thank you for giving me time at the end, to chat about Interplay Learning. So interplay Learning is where I work. I very much believe in the what we believe as a company, which is better careers lead to better lives. And I know you believe that too, Jeff That’s why you do all these great podcasts. So our online training platform gets people up to speed on trade skills quickly. For anyone who’s listening, who’s considering entering the trades, we have individual subscriptions, you don’t have to work at a company that’s bought us you can, you know. Try us out. $25 a month, you know, go in, play with those simulations, see if you like it, and if it kind of scratches that itch on the problem solving side of your brain, for anyone who may be is listening and owns a trades service company, you can bring our training platform into your company, which we’ve seen help folks with recruiting, onboarding, skilling your folks up. So two ways you can get in touch with our with our product. And in terms of where to go www.InterplayLearning.com. You can learn more there, see our catalog, get a demo if you’re so inclined, and sign up for one of these subscription plans there.

 

Jeff Altman 

Could choose spell Interplay Learning for folks.

 

Ariana Dugan 

Yes, Interplay learning, i n t e r p l a y l e a r n i n g

 

Jeff Altman 

If someone had a question of you, how can they reach you online to do that? Email or what have you?

 

Ariana Dugan 

Absolutely. You can reach me on LinkedIn. I checked my LinkedIn messages every day. So Arianna Dugan is my name A R I A N A D u g a n. You can find me on LinkedIn.

 

Jeff Altman 

Super. Ariana, thank you so much. And folks, we’ll be back soon with more. I’m Jeff Altman. I’ve got a ton at my website, TheBigGameHunter.us. Go to the blog and go exploring. You can find out a lot, a lot about job search, hiring, better management, leadership and dealing with workplace issues.

 

Jeff Altman 

I also want to mention while you’re at the site, you can schedule time for a free introductory call, schedule time for coaching, find out about my books and guides and take some of my courses. There’s just a lot there to help you.

 

Jeff Altman 

I’ll also mention connect with me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/TheBigGameHunter.

 

Jeff Altman 

I hope you have a terrific day and most importantly, be great

 

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JobSearchTV.com
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Connect with me on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/thebiggamehunter Mention you listen to the podcast or watch my YouTube channel.

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Since 2007, FlexJobs has been the #1 site for work at home opportunities www.TheBigGameHunter.us/flex

Thinking of making a career change and need some ideas that fit you. CareerFitter offers a free test and if you want more you can upgrade for the paid version.https://thebiggamehunter.us/Career

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We grant permission for this post and others to be used on your website as long as a backlink is included and notice is provided that it is provided by Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter as an author or creator.

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