Careering Around – managing your career after a break.

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Once upon a time an old chap said to me, that a ‘career is just a job that has gone on too long”. Now this line always springs to my mind when anyone is discussing or thinking about managing their careers; sadly says more about me than anyone else. I guess having had several “careers” (or more to the point jobs in past), I do understand how important careers are to many people. This came into sharp focus following a conversation around people (mainly mothers) who have or had career breaks and are now looking to get back to their careers.

Interestingly, the term career can refer to many types of employment ranging from the semi-skilled through to skilled, and onward to semi-professional to professional. Needless to say, specific careers paths will no doubt have their own goals & objectives, a plan on how to get to those objectives and a step by step evaluation on how to get to where your you want to be. Indeed moving onto career development, this can be further defined by the “lifelong psychological and behavioral processes as well as contextual influences shaping one’s career over the life span” (Herr & Cramer 1996). As such, career development involves the person’s creation of a career pattern, decision-making style, integration of life roles, values expression, and life-role self concepts.

Now with that knowledge lets assume that an individual has has career but has spent a few years caring for children or have experienced redundancy for example – how do you re-engage with the workplace once more? To many it can seem as easy as walking back into a role similar to one you left or can create an overwhelming sense of inertia as a result of outdated career management knowledge & skills. Clearly things have moved on with certain professions, along with the organisations you may have worked in the past. Perhaps the people you have worked with have also moved on, or maybe your employability skills are a little out of date and the CV is, well, a little dusty?

Fortunately all is not lost – far from it! One of my specialities is helping those folk with careers back to successful employment after a break. To start with perhaps you may consider networking, or spend time looking at your motivations, interests, constraints or personal qualities? However, a well crafted CV focussing upon your strengths, achievements and what you can offer to the lucky organisation employing you will gain is an enriching process. Even if there are gaps in the CV its all about what you have been doing, perhaps voluntary work, helping out in the community or even at a school can really help to plug the gaps in employment history. Moreover, an overhaul of your CV and where you fit can promote a call to action. The career coaching process is a serious motivator to help you with what you need to do and how you are going to reach your goal to pick up your career. Focussed career coaching will help ensure that you begin to direct your attention and manage your time toward targeting appropriate employers. The diagram below helps focus upon processes that a good career coach will guide you through.

So the CV is up to date and it starts to create interest with prospective employers or even perhaps self-employed work and you have been invited to an interview. A lot of people fear interviews, in fact research suggests that an interview or having to give a presentation is a fate worse than death! An interview is primarily the opportunity to sell yourself. Perhaps more relevant today an interview is all about demonstrating competency (behaviours and how you managed certain situations), your motivations, what separates you from other candidates (a USP) and engaging with the interviewer or interviewing panel. Many of my clients of have achieved career progression as a result of interview coaching that helps with the confidence to tell a story about you and your career successes and what you offer. Even when things did not go well in your past career, it’s about how you focussed upon the opportunities and the lessons learnt.

Needless to say there is a great deal more to supporting people manage the transitions toward a fulfilling and satisfying return to work. However, if you need targeted support I am happy to discuss your situation and help you gain the role that you deserve. So although the old chap may have been right about a career being a job that has gone on too long, the help is there to make your career last a lot longer and work for your benefit.

References

Herr, E.L., & Cramer, S. H. (1996). Career guidance and counseling through the lifespan: Systematic approaches. New York: HarperCollins)