5 Tips for Reinventing Your Career After a Break
If you’ve taken a career hiatus to start a family (or due to illness, ailing parents, or any other number of life’s unexpected journeys), it can be a daunting proposition to get back to the professional world. Even more daunting if you decide you don’t really want to follow the same career track you had before. Perhaps you booked 80-hour weeks at your law firm and are now looking for better work/life balance. Or maybe you worked in accounting and are now looking to do something more creative.
Whatever your reason for wanting to find a new career path, you’re going to need to put in some hard work (and a bit of creativity) to carve out a new niche for yourself. Remember, it is never too late to do what you want and follow your passions.
USE THESE FIVE TIPS TO NAVIGATE YOUR CAREER CHANGE AND COME OUT A REINVENTED WOMAN
- Pivot Your Career. If a complete career makeover is too much for you, try “pivoting” your career. Taking a few small steps may be an easier transition than making one big leap. Elissa Tomlin successfully relaunched her career from high-powered finance executive to a school admissions director by doing just that. Prior to having children Elissa worked long hours at a job she found both challenging and fun. After she had a baby, she tried the working mom thing but eventually decided to stay home with her child. Once her child entered preschool, Elissa was ready to get back to work and used her finance background to land a job as a bookkeeper at her child’s school. Not only did working at her child’s school take care of any childcare issues, it allowed her to take the initial steps to start a new career. Eventually Elissa worked her way into a Business Manager position and is now the Admissions Director and marketer for the school.
- Join Industry Associations in Your Newly Chosen Field. Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli, a professional resume development and career services firm specializing in helping women who’ve taken time off from their career, suggests women join a professional association in their newly targeted career area. This will allow you to network with other professionals in the field and gain insights into what it takes to succeed. Even better, become a leader in the organization, which should only take 2-3 hours of your time per week. “Contacts made during this time will regard your contributions as 100% legitimate—not as a side-act while you raised your child,” says Terach.
- Go Back to School. Lori Burger, a 25-year Wall Street veteran, completely reinvented her career and now enjoys life as a holistic health coach, helping women “get their sexy back.” After leaving corporate America, Lori worked with her own coach to get her life back on track and felt so good about it, she decided to go back to school and become a coach herself. She now enjoys a life following her passion and helping other women become healthy and happy. School can give you just the edge you need to give your career a reboot.
- Volunteer. Julie Shifman, author of Act Three: Create the Life You Want After Your First Career and Full Time Motherhood, suggests women consider volunteering as a way to build both skills and experience (and fill resume gaps) and that it may just lead to a paying job. “Joining a nonprofit board can provide a chance to hobnob with influential people in your community,” says Shifman, and these influencers can likely help you land your next gig. Added bonus? You get to feel good about helping a worthy cause while building a new career for yourself.
- Interview professionals in your new industry. Allison O’Kelly, founder of Mom Corps, a national talent acquisition and career development firm with a focus on flexible work and herself a reinvented mom, says that conducting informational interviews is “a great way to decide on your next career path, determine your next career moves, focus your aspirations, or figure out if a company/role would be a good fit.” Knowing what a typical day in the field looks like is critical before leaping into a new career, especially if you are also working around a family schedule.
One last key piece of advice? Dr. Marla Gottschalk, a prominent industrial and organizational psychologist and workplace strategist says to “always remember that maturity is an asset, in problem solving and decision-making.” Even though you are embarking on a new career, you aren’t 22 and just out of college anymore so use this to your advantage when talking to prospective employers. What you lack in experience in the field, you more than make up for in life experience.
Now get out there and reinvent yourself, Career Girls!