4 Things to Consider when Restarting A Career
In the current economic realities, we all now know people with work gaps. People by the 1000’s have been laid off and are still searching for jobs after 1 or 2 years. It’s an issue, but it doesn’t have the hiring stigma it once did. Now try to imagine not working for the past 10 or 15 years. That’s not a work gap. That a career restart, if in fact it’s not simply a career launch.
This situation happens most frequently with women who have delayed their career to start and raise a family. However, this is not the sole domain of women, as I have known of men who have had to take years off for raising a family or caring for aging parents. If you are in this position of restarting or launching a career in your middle years, I know you are concerned about your prospects. There are real issues; and some real thought that you have to put into plotting out your career.
- Not knowing what you would do. This is a problem for most people launching a career. It’s just that now you have a few more considerations in life that you didn’t previously have. You may have children demands, mortgages and location restrictions to add into the decision.
- Solution: Please don’t launch a job search without getting clear about your career. You will have a muddled mess; you won’t like the results. Review the next points on the issues you have to consider. Just know that you have work to do to figure out your career direction; you will need some time and resources to get yourself prepared.
- Education is dated. For many people who launch a career following college, there comes a point where the experience outweighs the value of your education. The experience is more specific, current and relevant. What you learned in college, while good, has a shelf life. If you obtained a degree and haven’t amassed much, if any, work experience, you have a job search problem.
- Solution: Depending on what career you have selected, you will most likely need to go back to school. I would spend time with a college advisor to discuss the best course of action. If you are starting a business, this issue goes away. You don’t need a degree or a “fresh” degree to start a business. But for most employment, you may be considering, unless pursuing unskilled labor, you will have to bolster your education.
- Work is dated. Similar to the education, the relevancy of work gets dated as well. To help make this point: The general guideline for how much work history you put on a resume is to stop somewhere around 15 years. If you haven’t been employed for over 10 years, much has changed and is not going to impress prospective employers. It’s almost like not having any experience.
- Solution: Volunteer. I know I sound like a broken record about volunteering, but it’s the one true untapped resource for a job seeker. There is everything a standard business would have in a non-profit, only they can’t pay for many of those functions. If you’re willing to speak with a non-profit group about their needs and your career direction, you may find yourself able to learn something new. It will also be immensely helpful to the non-profit group. This work experience is up to date and good for your resume. A second solution is to seek temp work doing something in or close to your new career.
- Restart is hard. Everyone I have seen in this situation finds it daunting and difficult to shift gears. It is a change in lifestyle, as well as a personal change. There is nothing that will go untouched when restarting a career.
- Solution: Don’t try to tackle the elephant! Create a plan for making a decision. Then execute on those things to arrive at a good career decision. Next create a preparation plan, whether it is getting another degree, certification, degree refresh or whatever. This will be the first point where you will start making bigger changes in your life, so list those in your prep plan. Most likely you will start to have a routine schedule you will need to work around. Many people facing this change try to wrap their arms around all of the parts at once. Break your actions down into manageable parts.
When faced with restarting a career, the best attitude to take is that you are starting a journey. There will be many steps along the way, a few curves and bumps, but the scenery will be great. You will arrive at your new career at a time that is perfect for you.
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