The current pandemic has led many people to wonder about changing careers; an not surprisingly so. Here are a few simple principles to consider when deciding on career reinvention, that can guide aspiring career-changers through the process during these hard times.
During these unprecedented times we all need a little help. Here are a few packages which may tickle your fancy and provide some help along the way to redefining your normal.. If any of these sound like something you may be interested in doing click here to connect with me and we can schedule a FREE consultation session with no obligation.
If this is not what you are looking for let me know how I may be of Service and we can tailor make a packed to suite your unique needs.
Click here to connect with Me
This is Part 1 of 2
Goal-setting seems like a smart thing to do in a career change. However, this might actually be exactly what is keeping you stuck. Renata explains why big targets can be a false friend. Here is what she recommends doing to start making progress towards that Ideal Career instead.
Let me tell you a short story
A little while ago I was doing a cupboard purge something I had not done in a while.
I found a black hard cover notebook. I immediately recognise this old faithful companion that contain hundreds of lines of my handwriting and doodles, in different colours of ink and pencil.
Journal entries, to-do lists, thoughts I had jotted down. Pages and pages of confused, frustrated outpourings about my work, my life, my future. I took a moment to read those words and I was transported back to that year in a deeply visceral way that I haven’t felt for a long time. The desperate awkwardness of feeling like a fundamental misfit in a career and a life that was not for mine. The sense of being caged in and stuck, trapped by the very life choices I myself had made in the years before. The dark emptiness ahead of me when I tried to imagine what else I could do.
As I flipped through the pages of that old book one page in particular hit me hard.
It was a list of goals.
Big, ambitious, hopeful goals. The only kind I had, back then.
And then next to them, in a different pen, clearly written later in a fit of irritation, a series of scrawled, pointy, sarcastic flippant questions…
- “Have three reasonable career options I’m truly excited about.” LOVELY. HOW, EXACTLY?
- “Start a side line income to make extra cash” WHICH YOU’LL DO IN WHAT SPARE TIME?
- “Have ($6000) saved by June.” WHAT FOR, GENIUS?
- “Hand in my notice by September” YEAH, RIGHT!!
Reading the contents of that page was like watching a snippet of the perpetual state of the inside of my head – the never-ending back-and-forth of a hopeful, fierce optimist and an angry, hurt cynic.
I made a lot of lists like that.
I remember how painful and pointless those felt, once their initial balm wore off.
Unrealistic, hollow-feeling goals, created mostly because I didn’t know what else to do.
They sounded nice, but I rarely did much about them.
It wasn’t a question of what I wanted on a grand scale.
It was the specifics I had no clue about. I still did not know the steps to take to get there.
Goals are not very helpful in the day-to-day logistics of a career change.
YES goals can feel productive, and make yo feel good in the beginning. Perhaps these goals even feel good the day after you write them down.
But beyond that initial feel-good sensation you have initially it can actually have the opposite effect on you making any meaningful change.
Fulfilment isn’t SMART
Anyone who has ever done any goal-setting has come into contact with the idea of SMART goals at some point:
We are told Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
This is Fair enough however finding fulfilling work is not quite so neat.
Setting SMART goals is an organisational task – finding the logical pieces, breaking them into chunks, and putting them together in a way that leads you forward, step by step.
Finding fulfilling work however feels more like trying to jump off a jellyfish into an ocean you are not convinced actually exists.
You do not really know where you are going, so being specific i.t.o goals setting is laughable.
You are not sure how exactly to measure fulfilment (beyond ‘Makes me want to poke myself in the eye / Doesn’t make me want to poke myself in the eye’), so that’s a shaky one too.
You do not even completely believe it’s possible, so how can it be achievable or realistic?
And time-based… if ONLY a deadline could fix this mess.
So sitting down to write some goals for your career change… eerr if it feels ridiculous, that’s probably because it is, a little.
Extrinsic motivation is not effective
Imagine you have set yourself a goal to lose 10 kilos.
You start going to the gym every day, because someone told you that gym exercise gets faster weight-loss results than anything else.
You hate the gym. You hate the smell of the changing rooms, you hate the perky gym bunny types who take up all the machines, you hate the music they play, and you hate running towards your own reflection in a mirror for half an hour and traveling precisely nowhere.
You start taking a salad and a Thermos of cabbage soup to work every day. You hate salad. You hate cabbage soup. You are starting to hate your life.
But you would love to loose those 10 kilos.
So you put up with it. You eat the soup, holding your nose and visualising your life once you’ve hit your goal. You endure the gym, wishing you could just hit your goal and never have to go back there again.
What are the chances of you hitting your 10-kilo target – and, more importantly, maintaining it afterward? I would say Pretty low, no?
Goals that do not inspire you or give you that “hell yeah” feeling or rely on extrinsic motivation such as an external, tangible result or outcome you need to achieve will not be achieved.
These goals feel heavy, looming over you menacingly until you have hit them. The process of working toward them often doesn’t feel enjoyable and takes a lot of effort despite the rewards at the end.
So you’re less likely to take the steps you need to take to achieve them.
Extrinsic motivation has repeatedly been shown to be less effective than Intrinsic motivation, which is driven by enjoying the activity itself.
Extrinsic motivation: “If I walk five miles today, I can have that piece of chocolate cake.”
Intrinsic motivation: “I love dancing – I’m going to dance in the kitchen just because it feels great.”
Extrinsic motivation: “If I spend the next month learning about the political system in Uzbekistan I’ll look really smart at the university dinner party.”
Intrinsic motivation: “How DOES the inside of my remote control work? This is fascinating…”
In other words, given the choice between rewards or enjoyment, you are far more likely to do things you enjoy.
So, ironically, you are more likely to lose 10 kilos by throwing the scales in the bin and going dancing every weekend than you are by trying to haul yourself to the gym every day if going to the gym is not your thing.
In your career change, you are more likely to find fulfilling work (albeit counter-intuitively) by doing things you enjoy than you are by setting yourself a goal to change career.
Pressure encourages procrastination
There is a fair amount of pressure involved in goal-setting.
Either you hit your goal, or you don’t.
There is no room for the grey area on the way.
And if you don’t hit it, you’ve ‘failed’. Unpleasant. Scary. Dunce hat. Ugh.
Procrastination is based in fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change: all fears that grow from an attachment to a specific outcome… otherwise known as ‘a goal’.
In career change, this often looks like vacillation, over-thinking, endlessly weighing up options, researching things to death…
What if you get it wrong? What if you don’t hit your target? What if it never happens?
High stakes creates high tension – and the higher the tension, the less likely you are to act.
So if you have set yourself a goal and you are getting stuck in procrastination-whirlpools, this might be why.
You are not the boss of everything
Unfortunate, but true.
No matter how hard you try, or how much effort you put in to achieving a goal, sometimes the world just gets in the way. Life happens.
Maybe you twist an ankle and can’t train for the marathon.
Maybe the taxman slings you an unexpected curveball and your savings goal hits the deck.
Maybe your company withdraws its plans to offer a round of voluntary redundancies next month, like you were expecting.
Maybe your kid gets sick and you spend your week curled up on the bathroom floor mopping brows and blowing noses and you don’t get your LinkedIn profile up to date like you said you would.
These moments hurt. Partly because they throw a spanner in the works and we have to deal with the possibility of failure.
Partly because it forces you to realise that you can’t control results.
You can ONLY control what you do, but not what happens next.
- You can create a perfectly written LinkedIn profile, but you can’t control whether or not people will read it.
- You can reach out to someone you admire, but you can’t control whether or not they will respond.
- You can go to an event you have never been to before, but you can’t control whether or not it will spark a new career idea.
Trying to consistently hit your goals when you are only responsible for part of the process is a pretty heavy expectation.
Don’t just set goals, build habits.
Looking back at my notebook, I’m pretty proud to say that I have achieved pretty much all l the goals I set back then and am working on achieving the new ones I have set.
I found a way to visit amazing places met some truly amazing people and do work I am completely in love with.
That wouldn’t have happened without giving myself the space to dream ridiculously big and commit to consistently doing things I had no idea how to do BUT learnt that it was possible and I could them.
Read part 2 next
I have had so many amazing responses from a previous post on Limiting beliefs I though it might be useful to add to this theme by also giving some thought to How to Identify your Limiting beliefs. I really hope this provides as much help and insight as the previous post on limiting beliefs did.
To change anything, you must first identify it.
It’s important to stay relevant.
We all have tons of limiting beliefs, but the truth is that many of these really do not affect our lives in any significant way so are pretty irrelevant.
The limiting beliefs that are going to have the greatest impact on our lives however are the ones that we need to deal with and replace with new beliefs.
Once you have dealt with the beliefs that have the greatest impact on your life you can work on those that have a less significant impact.
Part of moving forward is focusing on the most important issues in your life.
Remember to keep that in mind as you go through the process of discovering your limiting beliefs:
Start by making a list of the areas in your life where you feel challenged.
If you have an area of your life that displeases you and you are not actively doing something to repair it, then there is a fairly good chance that you have a limiting belief lurking. We can assume that if that were not the case; would it not make sense that you would just fix the issue or change the situation? Do you need some help making a decision why not do a really quick assessment using the Wheel of Life Tool
Very often Your behavior is an indicator of your beliefs.
Consider how you’re doing in the following areas:
- Finances. Are you feeling ﬁnancial pressure in your life? Do you have all the things you need or really want? How much money do you have in savings? Do you have the income you desire? Is that income secure?
- Relationships. Are your relationships satisfying and fulling? Do you feel the connection you want to feel in your relationships?
- Consider your intimate relationship as well as your relationships with your family, friends, and co-workers.
- Health. Are you taking good care of yourself? How is your weight? Do you go to the doctor regularly for check-ups?
- Fun & Adventure. Are you doing the things you really want to do? Do you dream of going overseas but haven’t been yet? Do you want to learn to play the guitar but never have?
- Any other aspect of your life in which you’re experiencing dissatisfaction. Think about any other areas of your life where you’re less than satisfied. If you’re not pleased with your life, a limiting belief could be the cause.
# Identify the beliefs that are contributing to your challenges.
Make a list of all of your beliefs, good and bad, regarding the challenges you identiﬁed above.
Don’t attempt to ﬁlter them as positive or negative while carrying out this process — just get them all listed as you brainstorm and examine them later.
Here’s a short example around money:
- I’ll never be wealthy.
- Rich people are dishonest.
- I will never have enough money to have a nice house.
- If I’m rich, people will try to steal from me.
- My friends will treat me diﬀerently if I have a lot of money.
Can you see why it would be diﬃcult to make a lot of money if you believe these things?
# Identify the beliefs that are holding you back.
Think about which beliefs are having the greatest negative impact on your life.
One way to do this is to consider how your behavior would change if that belief were eliminated from your life.
Don’t just guess which beliefs are the most damaging.
Genuinely examine them and consider the change that your life would experience if you weren’t held back by that belief.
# Put those negative beliefs in order.
Start with the limiting belief that you feel is creating the most challenge in your life.
Put them all in order from the belief having the greatest negative impact to the least.
It makes sense to spend your time where it’s going to do the most good.
Prioritizing your time is always a valuable strategy.
Now that you have a list of your limiting beliefs and have them in order, it’s time to start dealing with them.
Career transition at senior level is difficult as there are only a few available opportunities and plenty of very tough competition. More and more senior managers and executives are using career coaches to gain competitive advantage. Many of the best business leaders engage executive coaches. Career coaching can help executives navigate career transition quickly and effectively. Engaging a career coach will substantially improve competitiveness, marketability and ultimately the success of your job search and long-term career.
If your strategy is to send out hundreds of copies of your Curriculum Vitae and hope for the best, you will quickly discover that this doesn’t work and is a futile use of your time. Even if you have the best LinkedIn profile, it is not a guarantee of success.
A good career coach will help you articulate your best attributes and highest skills for a prospective employer to notice. A career coach will help you develop an effective job search strategy to identify the best target companies and secure your ideal position.
It can significantly reduce the time it takes to find your ideal position by helping you develop a comprehensive job search strategy. Many people including senior manager and executives find it difficult to articulate the value they can bring to an organisation and as a result how to pitch themselves effectively feels awkward. Many are also unsure what exactly they are looking for in terms of both position and type of company and this can be a significant disadvantage. If your vision is not clear, then you cannot develop an effective strategy to achieve it.
Get help to create a Vision. Vision guides you! In simple terms, if you are going on a business trip or holiday, you would not arrive at the airport without knowing what your destination is. Your destination guides your choice of airline and ultimately which terminal to arrive at. Your career transition journey is no different. If you don’t know where you are going to how will you know when you get there?
A career coach can help you create an impactful Curriculum Vitae (CV) / Resume and LinkedIn profile. Many people forget that the purpose of a CV / Resume is to get the interview and not the job, and as such this document must be carefully constructed to articulate just enough information to create interest and impact and encourage an employer or recruiter to reach out. BUT…. not too much information! At Renata Career Coach we sometimes see CV’s / Resumes that lack impact, are poorly written and in many cases are simply a cut and paste of a job description with little attention given to achievements. Remember that the attention given to each CV / Resume by a recruiter or potential employer is very short so making an impact quickly is essential!
Develop your networking skills. Some experts say that 70% of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking. Others say it’s more like 80-85%. Which ever statistic you believe what is clear this is substantial and as such incorporating a comprehensive networking strategy into your job search strategy is one of the most important actions you can. Effective networking provides a focused way to talk to people about your job search and can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information, support and most importantly uncover hidden promotion job opportunities. A good career coach will help you review various opportunities, networking events, existing contacts, developing new contacts and how to prioritise those that could generate the best results.
Preparation for interview and the overall assessment and selection process. Most organisations now have comprehensive recruitment and selection processes consisting not only of competency-based interviews, but also psychometric assessments as well as situation-based presentations. Having someone help you prepare for this puts you at a distinct advantage versus your competition. In our career coaching practice, we help you identify and segment your achievements across your entire career and then help you articulate them in a structured and impactful format. This process alone greatly assists Executives in interview preparation therefore it can also help you. Remember …. 90% preparation = 10% perspiration. 10% preparation = 90% perspiration!
A good career coach will hold you accountable for the goals you have set, offer valuable advice and expertise, and help you acquire different perspectives. Inevitability, there will be setbacks throughout your job search journey and your coach will be there to pick you up and encourage you to keep focussed and face your next challenge with renewed confidence and enthusiasm.
On-boarding into your new position. Depending on the terms and duration of engagement, some career coaches provide on-boarding coaching. The first six months of any position can be critical for both the organisation and the new appointee. On the one hand the hiring organisation will need to see evidence of added value from you. On the other hand you will need to feel that you have made the right career decision.
Various sources of research have shown that the average executive failure rate within the first 18 months is approximately 40%! A career coach can help with embedding and securing the success of the new relationship and provide a confidential environment to discuss goals, objectives and any potential issues that may arise.
In conclusion, you must remember that the role of a coach is to facilitate you to acquire different perspectives to get more out of work and life. The true value of the coaching process is gained from the work you put in between sessions.
At Renata Career Coaching we provide 1-2-1 coaching for people who are in career transition or planning to change jobs. We tailor a structured programme appropriate for the needs of each individual which results in a professional and effective job search campaign and improved confidence.
Our career coaching service can include:
- Skills and competency assessment
- Curriculum Vitae / Resume preparation
- Development of a Comprehensive Achievements Profile Document
- Development of a Job Search Marketing Plan
- Effective networking
- Engaging effectively with Executive Search Consultants
- Interview training
For those people looking for an improved alternative to the traditional outplacement program, our Career Coaching programme provides unique and highly customised support on how to conduct a professional job search campaign. Ideal Careers Happen by Design let us at Renata Career Coaching help you find the ideal career that suits you
For a free no-obligation consultation please contact our office via email at email@example.com
Are You a Prime Candidate for a Mid-level or Senior leadership Role?
If so, you have to shake up the way you tailor your resume for that position.
The way recruiters and hiring managers look for leadership candidates is slightly different t the way they search for candidates in other roles.
Before you apply for that leadership position, make sure you leverage these seven strategies to tailor your resume for maximum impact.
Revamp Your Resume’s Keywords
You may know, the computer databases, or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), that stores and analyses incoming resumes from job boards, employers, and recruiter sites, count the number of times certain words are used in your resume. These keywords are industry-specific and unique to each role in each company. Your resume ranks higher if you include more of these words in the document.
- Include a keyword section in your summary and stock it with 12 to 15 keywords pulled from the job description of the role you are pursuing.
- More importantly, use these keywords in each relevant job listing you include in your document. These words can be easily woven into sentences in your position overview statements, as well as your achievements.
- If you’re a new graduate, have recently attained a qualification, or don’t have all of the experience sought in the job posting you’re applying for, try listing relevant coursework in your resume’s education section. This will boost your keyword count.
- Fairly universal keywords include terms such as strategic planning, operations leadership, business management, cross-functional, cross-cultural, global, talent management, organizational restructuring, and P&L accountability.
Re-Position Your Resume’s Summary
Each time you apply for a new role, you need to tweak your career summary to maximize the number of keywords. You also need to emphasize the right capabilities.
When you apply for a leadership role, it is imperative to showcase your skills and experience with strategy creation. In lower-level jobs, you have to demonstrate your tactical execution strengths; in director-level plus positions, designing and implementing strategic plans is absolutely critical.
- Briefly describe the high points of your leadership experience in your summary. Relevant details you may want to include are things like key industries, sizes of companies you’ve worked for, the largest team size you’ve led, and the largest budget or P&L you’ve managed.
- Include brief descriptors of your leadership and communication style. These are less hard-hitting issues that deserve more attention on executive resumes. If you don’t know your communication style, take this free quiz to find out what it is and how to use it to your advantage.
- Be sure to include your strategy experience in addition to listing strategic planning as one of your key skills.
- Consider including two or three brief (but meaningful) career achievements as part of your summary. Choose accomplishments which demonstrate your core leadership strengths and ability to deliver top and bottom-line impacts on sales, revenue, productivity, efficiency, and expense management.
Clarify The Context Of Each Position, Promotion, Or Achievement
One of a resume’s key tasks is to tell the story of your career. Yours must convey the importance and relevance of each position change you’ve made while simultaneously clarifying the key challenges you faced in the role.
- Include a brief position overview or introduction to each role on your resume. If the position was a promotion or special assignment, make that clear.
- Showcase the context of your hire or promotion. Were you the first sales person in a new territory, or the newest manager in a series of five within a short time frame? Were you hired or promoted with specific challenges in mind? Were you hired or promoted based on specific skills or experience you possessed?
- If you were placed in the role to resolve specific challenges, it’s vital to note the circumstances of your entry into the position. For example, if you were hired to turn around declining sales, what was the sales level when you started? What sales level did you attain or position during your tenure?
- Keep it brief. Your position introduction should take up only two to three lines of text. Make every word count!
- Do the same thing with your achievements by including key details that reveal the larger context of your actions. If you averted a division closure by turning around sales, that’s vital to highlight. If your marketing efforts helped open new market sectors which paved the way for a mission-critical merger, say so.
- Don’t just focus on results—put your results in a larger context that makes your overall contributions more clear.
Front-Load Your Resume’s Achievements With A Strategic Focus
Most job seekers assume that recruiters read resumes the same way that they do. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
Many recruiters read a resume “in order” (a.k.a in pieces and parts) to see the big picture of the prospective candidate’s career. This often includes reading achievement statements differently than you and I do.
Before reading them in their entirety, some recruiters briefly review the first few words of each bulleted statement to test the waters, so to speak. They also do this to see if the accomplishments are more tactically or strategically focused. It’s imperative that you front-load your achievements with the strategic focus they’re looking for, assuming you have that experience.
- In leadership positions, your strategy influence is often a bigger deal than your monetary impact. Begin your bulleted statements by clarifying your strategic impact, then note the specific impacts you achieved.
- For example, here’s a typical “homemade” bullet written by a real job seeker: “Working on a green field project that would double the capacity of the plant.” Here’s a revamp which shifts the emphasis to strategy: “Road mapped Greenfield plant start-up from strategic planning to on-time, on-budget roll-out in 2 years. Outcome: Doubled throughput and increased revenue by $46 M.”
Align Your Education & Extra Sections With A Leadership Focus
It’s always important to include up-to-date listings of your educational credentials, including certifications, relevant affiliations, and professional development coursework. However, you shouldn’t overlook other details that can bolster the leadership focus of your resume.
- Any evidence of your present or past leadership experience may be relevant. So, consider adding present or past volunteer leadership roles in professional or community organizations.
- Make sure you include any for profit or not-for-profit board or committee roles you have fulfilled. And if space permits, include key initiatives you have contributed to during your tenure on these boards or committees.
- Leadership courses completed at major grad schools deserve emphasis as well.
- When you list industry-specific certifications, include them in acronym form as well as spelled out because either form is a keyword.
- If you have won leadership awards or been selected for leadership development programs with any of your employers, make sure you note these.
Use The Job’s Title As Your Resume’s Title
This is a quick change but a critical one: make sure you insert the exact title of the position you’re pursuing into your resume as its title. This will add more keywords to your resume, but, more importantly, it will shape the perception of your resume’s readers to see you as qualified for the position you are targeting.
Now, this won’t work if you apply for a leadership role for which you have few, if any, qualifications. However, if you are well-qualified for the position you’re targeting and meet 75% or more of the role requirements, then this is a wise and appropriate thing to do.
Harness Your Career Brand In A Tagline
Whether you call it a tagline or a power statement, these single-line headlines are the perfect length to encapsulate a key leadership trait you possess along with your most influential and important career-long impacts.
These kinds of statements are big picture by nature, so they encompass the whole of your career rather than just your most recent role. Secondary or tertiary power statements can be used to spell out additional role-specific achievements.
- For example, here’s the tagline used for an executive resume: “Fuelled $15B in revenue career-long while delivering 5x investor returns.” As you can see, short statements are more powerful when used as headlines; key details can be provided in the work history section of your resume.
- Let’s say you’re a leader with a turnaround history—that would be important to note in a key location. Hence, a tagline such as this might be beneficial: “Reversed the performance of 4 mid-size companies from negative to up to +$144M in 11 months.”
All of the above are content shifts you need to make in your resume to properly position yourself as a leadership candidate. In addition, consider overhauling your resume’s “look and feel” to ensure you call attention to executive-level experience. Remember an organisation posting a job is looking to fill a capacity gap; so make sure you convince them that the capacity you have can fill their gap.
Hello there hope you are having a fabulous week.
So I have been reading this book about mindset and this thought crossed my mind. I wonder how many other people may need to read some of these pearls of wisdom I have been reading. I then realised that you may not have the time or the interest in reading a book on mindset and how our thoughts influence our daily lives. More importantly how our thoughts can change our reality.
I know I was a bit skeptical at first too but I kept reading anyway. I came to realise this is not magic, its not some new age pop-psychology or even something reserved for those “enlightened gurus” or “flower-power” types. It is all quite real and surprisingly well researched. In fact it is used very successfully by many people who many of us know [maybe not personally but we know who they are].
You know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is right – like him or loath him go read his story. There are many like him who have used these little pearls and have made remarkable changes in their lives.
Truthfully what do you have to loose – that was my view anyway so I decided to give it a bash. I have only just started so will let you know how it goes. Why not give it a try and let me know how your reality changes. Or maybe just try it for sniffs-and-giggles and see what happens. Looking forward to hearing from you.
So here goes the first little pearl of wisdom I came across.
Visualization is using your imagination to see yourself in a situation that hasn’t yet happened, picturing yourself having or doing the thing you want, and successfully achieving the results you desire.
- Decide what you want to do or have.
- Relax. Spend several minutes unwinding so that you are comfortable in body and mind.
- Spend five to ten minutes visualizing the reality you want.
The mental pictures we indulge in, become a blueprint for our goals, a mold into which we pour our energy.
The more the thought is repeated the more energy and power it generates, and the more readily it is able to manifest itself.
Strong and concentrated thoughts are strong and concentrated forces.
Just as there are many reasons to leave your job to become a stay-at-home parent, there are many reasons why you may choose to go back to work. Many stay-at-home parents go back to work once the children are in school or have left the nest.
For some families, there are financial reasons driving the decision to return to the workforce. Others may find the life of a stay-at-home parent to be challenging and isolating. Whatever the reason, going back to work is often easier than it sounds.
Steps to Re–enter the Workforce
Finding a new job can be intimidating for anyone, but it is particularly intimidating for someone who has been out of the workforce for a few years. Normal fears of a stay-at-home parent may include seeming to be out of touch or behind in skill level. You may even worry that a potential employer won’t be able to relate to you or understand how hard you have worked to take care of your home and children over the years.
Don’t waste time trying to eradicate these fears. Instead, focus your energy on finding a suitable sustainable job. Use this step-by-step process to get back into the workforce with confidence.
- Know Why You Want to Return to Work
There may be an obvious and direct answer to this question, but you need to search a little deeper for an answer that will appeal to potential employers. When an employer figures out that you have been out of the workforce for a number of years, the first thing they will want to know is why you are returning. If you tell them it is simply because you need money, forget ever working for them – you need to give them a reason why they should employ you.
Furthermore, you also need to understand that there are many reasons to go back to work beyond a financial need, so find out what these are for you. Having a solid reason, you’ll have the motivation to work hard at finding the right job and the motivation to be a good employee. Consider reasons such as:
- Contributing to society to make the world a better place
- Using and developing your unique skill-set
- Having more responsibilities
- Learning more and sharing your knowledge
- Interacting with and helping other people
Know What You Want to Do
Knowing why you want to go back to work may help you figure out what you want to do in the workforce. This will increase your passion for finding a job, which employers will notice. If you are returning to work after an extended absence, you also have the unique opportunity to decide if you want to go back to your previous industry or if you would like to try a new career. You can be very selective at this point in your life so use that.
Here are some things to consider when getting back into the workforce:
- What do I want to do?
- What industries do I want to enter?
- Is it important for me to get a job at my previous level, or am I okay with getting an entry-level position?
- Is it necessary for me to have a part-time or flexible schedule?
- In which geographic locations am I willing to work?
- Would I like to telecommute or work on location?
- How do I feel about travel?
It’s important to know what you’re looking for, but it’s equally important to be flexible. For example, you may desire part-time work, but such positions can be hard to find. Therefore, it may be more practical to look for a family-friendly employer that will allow you to have a flexible schedule.
- Update Your Experience
When you haven’t been employed as a professional for a while, it’s normal for some of your skills to slip. When you are not practicing your skills regularly, you will eventually lose them.
So how do you overcome this obstacle and prove to potential employers that you are just as strong in your field now as you were when you left?
- Volunteer. This may be the easiest, cheapest, and most fulfilling way to get your abilities up to par. Depending on your career field and industry, consider contacting a hospital, vet, school, local business, or church to see if you can offer your services or be part of a volunteer program. If you are in a more technical career field, target the skills you would like to regain. For instance, if you want to improve your computer programming skills, volunteer to build a website for a business in need. If you want to relearn or upskill your Excel knowledge, find someone who needs a spreadsheet. There are no rules about volunteering and working for free to gain experience, so be creative.
- Take a Class. Take a class, or get a degree or certificate if that will help you take the next step in your career. Keep in mind how long it will take to complete your training in order to plan out a timeline as to when you’ll need to start your job search.
- Attend a Conference in Your Industry. Another disadvantage of being out of the workforce is not being up-to-date in the latest happenings and trends in your field. A quick way to get caught up – and to also make some professional connections – is to attend a conference for your industry or career field. Professional conferences are usually held annually, so be sure to plan ahead if you want to attend before your job search.
- Research. If you are unable to attend a conference or lack the funds to attend, you can still do your own research from home. Hop onto the Internet and look at reliable sources in your industry. Subscribe to professional journals to learn about the latest research and discoveries in your field. Your timely knowledge would be highly impressive to potential employers.
- Schedule Time. If you do not schedule the time to improve your skills, you’ll constantly be telling yourself that you’ll do it tomorrow. Make it a priority, and you’ll reap the benefits.
- Strategically Organize Your Resume
When recruiters look at your resume, the time gap in your work experience is going to be a red flag. To ease the impact of this gap in professional work, organize your resume in a way that downplays that fact but emphasizes your skills.
Here are some resume tips:
- Use the Combination Format for Your Resume. Put your skills toward the top of your resume and your professional experience toward the bottom – this is known as the combination format. Most recruiters will glance at your resume from top to bottom and note your skills first. Otherwise, they may toss it once they notice the experience gap.
- Forget Reverse-Chronological Order. Typically, resumes list experience in reverse-chronological order in order to showcase your most recent work experience first. However, if this is not to your benefit, showcase your most impressive work experience by listing it first.
- List Transferable Skills. While this is always important, it is especially important when you are trying to break back into the workforce. In addition to listing all transferable skills, make sure to mention any leadership experience; for example, if you were the PTA president.
- Be Honest. Never lie or exaggerate on your resume. Sell yourself while being completely honest.
- Check for Errors. It may have been a while since you last put together a resume, so make sure to avoid common resume mistakes, such as grammatical errors. Have friends or even a professional proofread your work to ensure that you have a great resume.
- Practice Interviewing
If it has been a long time since you have written a resume, it has probably been years since you’ve been interviewed. The best way to prepare is to go online and write out your answers to sample interview questions. Then, get a friend or family member to perform a mock interview with you. Be thorough yet concise with your answers, and practice until you are able to accurately respond to the most common interview questions in 90 seconds or less.
Remember, you should also be prepared for a phone interview at all times since this is how many companies screen before doing an in-person interview.
Often, when it comes to finding a job, it ultimately comes down to who you know, not what you know. Here are some excellent ways to network:
- Join a Professional Organization. You may have already done this as a way to re-educate yourself about your career field or industry, but if you haven’t, find a group that you can join. This can be especially useful if you have a local chapter that has meetings that you can attend. If not, use information on the web to let others know you are looking for a job. When I was in college, I was able to land an amazing job working as an industrial engineer at a hospital by emailing members of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and inquiring about job openings.
- Reach Out to Your Alumni Association. If you are a college graduate, get in touch with your alumni association. People enjoy working with those who attended the same college as they did. It’s a fun way to relate to your co-workers or employees.
- Attend Networking Events Regularly. Networking events are very common, unlike job fairs, which only happen occasionally. Many churches hold networking meetings for those on the job hunt as well. Attend as many of these events as you can. You never know who you might meet.
- Get a LinkedIn Account. Although online sites have typically been known as a non-traditional way to find employment, more people are finding jobs though social networking. In fact, in a recent survey, 15% of people found their most recent job through sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. While that percentage is small, as someone returning to the workforce after a long absence, online networking is only to your advantage.
Know that it will be tough going back to work after years of being a stay-at-home parent, not only in finding a job but also in readjusting to the working lifestyle. Also, if you are re-entering the workforce after a long absence, 10 or more years, and you are in your fifties or older, it may be even more challenging to find a job due to age related bias. Being aware of the realities and the challenges of the task you are undertaking will help you have the courage to keep going and be fully satisfied when you succeed.
Have you ever re-entered the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent?
How to Decide on a New Career
The first step to any career pivot is to get a clear understanding of what is important to you so that you can then figure out what the right career is for you.
Often career changers ‘jump in at the deep end’ of career change, trying to list job options they would consider before thinking about what exactly they want to get out of a career change. This can result in a lot of frustration, and rarely results in a good career change.
Why? Because picking a new career without understanding your basic ‘me-criteria’ is akin to closing your eyes and picking a career at random. No wonder people spend years going around in circles trying to decide what to do next.
With a real understanding of yourself you can create a list of your career ‘must haves’ and ‘deal breakers’.
- Do you will have criteria for deciding which careers to explore and which to eliminate?
- Do you understand how to filter your search by what makes you tick, what motivates you, what environment is right for you?
Here is a three step process to help you:
Step 1: Get clarity
- Your passions are important but not the whole picture. Remember to maintain a balanced lifestyle so that you are able to give attention to all aspects of your life that need it.
- Identify what stage of the career change journey you are at and how that can help you know what the next steps are. Spend time evaluating your current job satisfaction and reoccurring themes of dissatisfaction. Which aspects of your current job do you like and dislike? Are your dissatisfactions related to the content of your work, your company culture or the people with whom you work?
- Remember you can’t figure it out by figuring it out. The simple reality is that if the solution to your career change lay in more analysis, in making more lists, reading more books, taking more psychometric tests, or simply figuring it all out in your head – you’d have found it by now.
Step 2: Generate & filter ideas
- Be practical if you don’t know where to start
- Choose the best ideas, if you have too many
- Start testing your ideas without leaving the safety of your current job
- Don’t try and do this alone – having bursts of energy to do something about your career, followed by periods where you get swept back into ‘life’, surfacing weeks or months later and realising nothing had changed is not a useful roller coaster. Seek out others who also wanted to escape and did; enrolled a career coach; and start to meet and hang out with different types of people. The net effect of different ideas, different connections, and accountability will all lead to forward movement.
Step 3: Draw a road-map
- Don’t Rush the decision.
Before you commit to the decision to change careers, make sure you are positive—absolutely positive—that you’re doing it for the right reasons. The following qualify as the right reasons: Your industry is dying. Your life priorities have evolved. You fell into your career by accident, simply because it was convenient at the time.
- Decide on your priorities and do your research e.g. Salary, flexible working conditions, remote working should be considered
If you’re in a low-paying field and the current job is no longer keeping the lights on, running the numbers doesn’t mean you’re money-hungry—it means you’re realistic. The mistake however would be choosing your new career solely on earning potential, rather than how well it matches your interests, values, or strengths (you know, the good stuff). In the end, salary may be part of the reason you’re unhappy, but it’s probably not the only reason.