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Advice for Mums Seeking Career Change

by EricaL (follow)
Writer, blogger, Mum-of-two. Advocate for sustainable fashion (recycled-fashion.com) melbourne.kidtown.com.au
Melbourne Mums, do you seek a career change? Helen from Career Confident explains that sometimes, you need to start by looking in the mirror.

Helen from Career Confident

My children are 12 and 15. Over the last 15 years, I have often looked at work and career in a different light, as have many of my friends. It is not that I was necessarily less interested in my career or that I did not enjoy my work. For me, it was about a value adjustment and a desire for some balance. My mother’s group would meet at the park or dinner as the children got older and similar themes would emerge as we reflected on the extent to which we were coping with our work, still enjoying our work, feeling supported from our employer for all those “sick days” and so on. The word “juggle” was frequently mentioned, usually in the context of our perceived failings!

Staying in a job or career you are unhappy in can be damaging on a personal and family level, yet jumping in too fast to make a change without close self-analysis and adequate research can result in disappointment and possibly financial consequences. If you want to make a career change, large or small, do your research and make an informed decision. You owe it to yourself to do it properly. A happy mum is good for everyone. The points below are general though you might find them helpful.

Career change starts with you
The reasons people change careers are so varied. It might be due to unhappiness or boredom at work, a desire for career progression or for a less demanding or more flexible career, or perhaps a genuine “light bulb” moment of clarity. Aside from job loss or redundancy – both of which can have a huge impact on individuals – changes in financial, health or family circumstances are also prime motivators for changing careers.

What career change is right for me?
Being informed, prepared and realistic around expectations will help you to be confident and develop a plan of action to help you realize your change-of-career aspirations.

Health and well-being matters
It would be fair to say, many people undergoing career change for whatever reason can experience a roller-coaster of emotions. Above all, your health and well-being is paramount, especially if you have recently encountered changes in your work or personal circumstances. A visit to your GP, counsellor or other allied professional may assist. Seek help if you need it and surround yourself with supportive people where possible, especially other mums.

Time for some thorough self-analysis
Preparing to change careers is a very individual experience and usually requires several steps, though the first and perhaps the most important involves getting to know yourself better. But what does this really mean in the context of career change? Here are just a few key pointers to help you begin the career change self – analysis process, based on the assumption you have a few thoughts around what you would like to do. Why not ask a trusted friend to work through these questions with you;

This is the tough part. Ask yourself (and make sure you answer honestly):

• Why do I want to make a change? Is it my career I want to move from or my job (two very different things and each requiring a different approach)? Is there anything else going on in my life which might be colouring my views about my current job that I can deal with so that I can continue in my current position (if I am otherwise happy in it)? This is an important point.

• What are my current values? Have they changed since having children and to what extent are they compatible with my current work?

• How motivated am I to make a change and how substantial do I want that change to be? A career aligned with that I am doing now or completely different? What research have I undertaken? People I have spoken to?

• What will I miss about my current career?

• What have I enjoyed/not enjoyed about my previous positions?

• How important is salary to me? Can I afford to take a reduced salary for a period if need be in order to start a new career?

• Do I have the necessary skills and personal qualities required of the industry(ies) I am interested in?

• Will I require additional training/education to launch my new career and how am I placed to pursue this from a cost and time perspective? To what extent would I have family support to pursue this?

• What style of work do I prefer and hours/location of work?

• How do I picture my new career? (Part-time, full-time, working from home, combined with voluntary work or a portfolio approach?) How flexible do I need my new work to be especially as I have family responsibilities?

• What are my strengths and limitations and how are they relevant to my proposed career?

• To what extent do I have the support of my family and other networks? (Make sure you don’t gloss over this one; it may not seem like it when there’s everything else to consider, but it’s pretty important).

Helen Green is a qualified careers consultant and professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia. She recently launched Career Confident, a small boutique careers service in McKinnon.
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