Making a career change can open the doors to improved work-life balance, time with family, and greater enthusiasm at work. But, what do you need to consider before you change course?
Regardless if you are thinking about starting a family or are a tried and tested parent, what you need and want from your job will change over time.
You may have worked in a specific field for years, or you may have had a history of different jobs here and there: when the time comes to change career path it’s best to consider all the options.
Claire Simmons and Fiona Haynes provide career coaching and mentoring through their company newfuture.me. With more than three decades of experience between them, Claire and Fiona have helped countless parents choose the right career path.
Each parent’s needs are different when it comes to their career, Fiona emphasises:
“What we want is changing all of the time and what we want out of work adapts and matures as you go through your career cycle and your family grows.”
“Sometimes people have only had a few months maternity leave, sometimes they have been off for years and now it’s the right time to return to the workforce,” explains Claire.
The desire to make a big career change could come at any point in your working life, but if you want to make the move it is important to be confident that this is the right decision for you. “It’s not always necessary to make a big career change,” advises Fiona. “Sometimes it’s possible to negotiate the way you’re working with your employer – if you can work less contract hours or have more flexibility, this can sometimes be a better solution.”
The motivation to move on can come from a lack of enjoyment in your current role, a poor work-life balance or just wanting to know what else is out there. The reasons are unique to you, but if you are feeling unfulfilled then it is worth investigating.
“Some people don’t actually want to go back to the job they were in before, so they are looking for help, support and guidance in terms of a similar role or maybe doing something completely different,” explains Claire. “It’s quite often about discovering what else is out there, one size doesn’t fit all with a career transition.”
The prospect of applying for a new job, attending an interview and starting afresh in a new workplace can seem daunting – that is where a career coach could assist you and help build your confidence.
“Maybe you haven’t had to apply for new jobs for several years so you are out of touch with what the most up to date practices are in the industry, what selection techniques are used or what skills are in demand these days,” stresses Claire. “Where to look for jobs because it has changed so much in the last ten years.”
A new job doesn’t have to mean the same job.
Fiona says: “It’s very common to think about doing something different or, if you are conscious that you have been out of the market for a while, wanting to make sure you progress and move forward.
“As people’s families grow – what they want out of life and their career changes.”
“If you’ve got to the point where you’re really unhappy, you’re not getting satisfaction, you’re not challenged and you feel miserable going into work, weigh up making a significant change to make things better,” recommends Fiona. “Ask yourself: will a new path suit the way you want to work; will you be able to earn the money you need – we’ve all got bills and mortgages to pay.”
Balancing what is necessary; earning enough money to cover your outgoings, knowing what you want out of a new career, a better work-life balance is key to the success of making a career change. Without carefully considering these factors you could end up regretting the change and find yourself in an equally challenging scenario.
“It’s a whole balancing act between weighing up how much push and pull factors there are,” says Fiona. “It’s not [a decision] to just enter into lightly, it’s something you need to think through, and we help you to do that in a realistic, balanced, constructive way.”
Making a career change doesn’t have to happen in the same sector you are in, Claire says: “There are so many opportunities out there for people that they don’t realise, if it is something realistic that has come to mind then it’s probably worth exploring further.”
Maternity leave, paternity leave or time off being a full-time parent is a great opportunity to reflect on your situation, what you want and what skills you already have to provide a prospective employer.
You might already have a specific set of skills fitted to the industry you work in, but this isn’t all you bring to the table.
Being a parent opens new doors for you, Claire adds: “It’s not just thinking about your transferable skills in work, being a parent there’s so many other skills you develop. Parents are some of the best multiskilled, multitaskers on the planet.”
From good time keeping, negotiation and planning skills, to a knowledge of nutrition, take note of what you have learnt from starting a family.
“Some people become very active in child and parent focused groups or sometimes might help out at a nursery class or a play scheme,” says Claire. “There are other skills that parents develop but might not even realise they have.”
Whether you want to pursue the career you have dreamt of since you were a child, start your own business or try something completely new – with the right planning and support a major career change could give you everything you are looking for.