Pursuing a new career direction after a career break - Career blog - Position Ignition - taking you to the next step in your career

After taking a career break to be a parent, a lot of us decide to pursue a new career direction instead of returning to our old role. Changing career can be daunting at the best of times, so it's natural to feel overwhelmed by the challenge if you haven't been in the workplace for a while. However, it's by no means an impossible feat. The most challenging aspect is perhaps deciding which career you want to pursue and then finding a way in. There are five key messages to take on board when deciding which path to take and how to follow it:

1. Start planning

To ensure you choose the right career for you, it's important to do some planning. Choosing a career can't be done overnight, it takes time to think things through and work out the best options for you. Get a feel for the types of career you're suited to by doing a few of the career personality tests available online. These are basically psychometric tests that identify possible careers for you based on their assessment of your skills set, aspirations and character traits. There are a whole range of them available and the costs varies from free to expensive-but not too expensive!

2. Define your criteria

Another good starting point is to think about what your constraints and priorities are in terms of career. Can you only work certain hours because of the limited childcare options available to you?  Is it a priority that you work close to home? Once you've worked out what your criteria is, start researching different careers to see which ones match up to the criteria.

3. Get experimenting

Although it's good to start planning, we risk never getting out of the planning stage. We keep planning and researching instead of moving onto the next stage and get trapped in one big cycle of procrastination. Don't over-plan: although it's important to know who you are when choosing a career, what does that actually help you to do? The best way to test out potential avenues is to go out and try them as soon as possible. Go to conferences and networking events within the career field you're interested in. Join a club or group that will allow you to participate in relevant activities. Not only will you get a feel for the kind of work you'd be doing, you'll also start meeting new people. It's about getting both yourself and your name out there.

4. Don't restrict yourself

The relevance of meeting new people in the field you're targeting is that you can actually talk to them about that particular field. By all means keep talking with your existing network, because you may be surprised by what your established contacts can help with. For the most part, however, if you only talk with your existing contacts, you'll only be talking about your existing life. You built up your professional network through your previous career, but you're no longer focusing on that career. Signal to both yourself and to potential leads that you're serious about finding a new career by finding new people to go with it.

5. Prepare yourself

Meeting new people is easier said than done, especially on a professional level. Those of us who are not natural networkers often get tongue-tied and just don't know how to approach people. Either that, or when we do get into a conversation with someone we ramble on nervously without making it clear what we want and what we can offer. Before you start networking be clear on what you're going to tell people. Plan beforehand what you would say if you had two or three minutes to tell some what you want to do.

Running through this entire process is the core message to take your time. Frenetic activity does not equate to career openings. We can be tempted to fill in as many job application forms as we can get our hands on, or to spray our CVs around but this is not the most productive method. Instead be smart about finding a new career by identifying a specific path to take and then focusing your efforts on it. Career break or no career break, changing careers can take any amount of time, be it 6 months or 2 years. Be patient and know it'll be worth it when you find the career that's right for you!


Author: Nathalie Metcalf. Nathalie is a Position Ignition Career Guide, running the ‘Mums 2 Work’ workshops for mothers wanting to return to work. She helps people with change and transition whether looking for a new job, returning to work, wanting a career change or setting up a new company on your own.

Posted via email from AndyWergedal