How To Relaunch Your Career
One of the most common questions asked by mothers or carers on an extended career break is, "What can I be doing to improve my chances of returning to work?" A big issue for anyone planning to take a significant amount of time off work to raise a family or care for a relative.
I spoke to career adviser, Leah Lambart, who has given her top 8 tips for you to maximise your career launch.
1. Start Exploring New Career Options Early
Time and time again, women leave their return to work to the last minute. Many are keen to explore new career options as they don’t feel they can go back to the same line of work after having children. In these situations a career change can often be a slow process, often taking between 6 to 12 months, depending on how radical the change is.
Start exploring your career options earlier in your career break. Identify the career areas that you are interested in and make the time to get out and talk to people in these regions to assist you in narrowing down your options, allow you to evaluate your skills against these options, and give you more time to upskill before returning to work.
2. Complete A Skill Evaluation
Research your ideal jobs online through job search engines such as SEEK, Ethical Jobs and on recruitment agency websites. Each advertisement will have a description of the key responsibilities and selection criteria to allow you to compare your skills and qualifications, evaluate which skills you have and those that need updating.
Often the first skills that become obsolete are technical or IT skills. There are some excellent short courses available that will allow you to increase your skills, boost your confidence and build new networks. Attending seminars and webinars is also an excellent way to get up to speed with industry and technology updates. Some great places to start are: CAE and General Assembly.
There is also a plethora of free or inexpensive online courses that may help you upskill in a technical area or provide you with a ‘taste’ of a subject area before committing time and money to an expensive post-graduate course. Completing a short course or online course will also signal to employers that you are pro-active and grave about relaunching your career in that particular field.
To find some great free online courses, check out the following websites: Alison, Coursera, Futurelearn, Udacity and Udemy
3. Volunteer and Internships
If you have a substantial career break, you want to think about ways to maintain and develop new skills, particularly if you are considering a career change. Volunteering will be more useful if it is strategic and tailored to your area of interest. Volunteering at the RSPCA will only really help your career relaunch if you wish to work with animals. If your interest is in marketing, then look for an opportunity to do an internship with the marketing department of a small business or offer to take on the marketing for the school annual fair.
Volunteering will allow you to acquire additional skills, learn about a new company/industry, expand your networks and potentially open up pathways to paid work.
4. Become Clear About Your Values
Taking time off work to raise children or care for a relative can often give us a different perspective concerning what is most important. Before returning to work, you need to get clear on your values, or what is most important to you. You then need to consider whether the career you are planning to return to will allow you to express this new set of values. Happiness begins when you achieve your values.
5. Talk To People
Once you have decided to relaunch your career, it is important that you get out into the real world and tell people what you are trying to do. Talk to people in your network and look for opportunities to meet with people outside your network. If you are a social worker keen to make a career change, then it is no use talking only to your social work colleagues and connections. Results show that it is important to go out and meet new people in different industries to find out what they do.
Researching careers on the Internet and applying for jobs through job search sites are rarely successful for the career changer. Going out and meeting people face-to-face, conducting information interviews, attending short course and seminars will give you a better chance of a successful relaunch.
6. Create A LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for the launcher. LinkedIn is fabulous for researching career options and identifying people that may be helpful to speak to about a new career area. You can also look at the profiles of people in that industry to see where they studied, what skills they have and what their pathway has been to get to their current role.
LinkedIn is also perfect for connecting with old colleagues and for expanding your networks. Don’t be afraid to contact people on LinkedIn to see if they would be willing to talk to you about their career or organisation, even a quick chat over the phone if they don’t have time to meet face-to-face.
7. Update Your Resume
In many cases, individuals returning to work feel that updating their resume should be the first step in their return to work process. It is appropriate if you are planning to work in the same capacity as you did before having your career break (although you may want to check that your resume format is up-to-date).
However, if you are planning to make a complete career change, then updating your resume should be one of the last steps in the process.
It is important to firstly complete a full self-assessment of your skills, interests and values so that you can tailor your resume for your ideal role.
8. Get Energised
Job search is a time-consuming and demanding activity that at times can be quite disheartening. To put your best foot forward, you need to feel confident and energised. You also need the physical and mental space to work on your career change each week.
If you feel that you have lost confidence on your career break, look for ways to get your energy back. Take up a hobby or interest that you have let fall by the wayside, catch up with some friends who make you laugh, improve your image by sprucing up your work wardrobe (find out how here) and obtain some interview coaching. All of the above will assist you to regain confidence so that you can present yourself to future employers in the best possible way.
Leah Lambart is an experienced career changer herself, commencing her career as a Chartered Accountant before transitioning through Recruitment, Human Resources and later Project Management.
After having three children in four years, Leah decided that returning to corporate work was not going to work for her family, so she set off on the next career change journey. After months of self-discovery and a ridiculous amount of coffee meetings, Leah completed post-graduate studies in Career Education & Development and was finally ready to ‘relaunch’ – hence the name of her business Relaunch Me.
Leah tailors her sessions to the needs of the individual and provides services including Career Counselling, Interview Coaching, Job Search Coaching and LinkedIn Coaching. Leah also provides Return to Work Programs for parents or carers to assist them with planning and executing a successful return to work.
Consultations can either be face-to-face in Armadale VIC or via Skype or Phone.
Time to start is today, good luck with launching the new you and your career. Check out our wellbeing page for more career and confidence articles.
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