Don’t let others manage your career; it’s yours – own it & ensure it doesn’t run into a dead end!

I was recently speaking with someone who told me that after more than 20 years with the same employer, his role had been made redundant. Although he’d really wanted to change careers, he said he didn’t know where to start. So instead he found a new job that was very similar to his old role.

by Therese Larnder, Mining Families Matter
I was recently speaking with someone who told me that after more than 20 years with the same employer, his role had been made redundant. Although he’d really wanted to change careers, he said he didn’t know where to start. So instead he found a new job that was very similar to his old role.

Reflecting on this after I’d hung up the phone, I realised that most of us generally don’t put too much effort into managing our career. We don’t really take control of it. Most of us look at the opportunities presented and choose the best ones, rather than creating opportunities that we really want.

Similarly, we tend not to plan in advance for big changes in our career, such as a relocation or starting a family. Instead we fly by the seat of our pants and hope for the best. As these events can be stressful in and of themselves, planning for the career aspect of these changes will help to increase the amount of control you feel over the situation and also make the change a little smoother for the whole family.

So here are my top tips for effective career management during big life changes:

  • Do your research. If your partner has been transferred to a new town, or you’ve chosen to relocate the family and you plan to work in your new home town, investigate local employers who might offer the types of roles you’re looking for. Also look out for recruitment agencies and employer groups who will be well connected to local employers. Talk to others who live, or have lived in the town: who would they suggest you speak to?
  • Visualise what it will be like. If your major life change is planning to start a family, really think about what you want your work life to be like if and when you decide to return to work. Will it be full time, part time or contract work? Start to plan and position yourself now before you start a family. Will your current employer offer what you’re looking for after the baby is born? If not, you may need to shift jobs now rather than wait until the baby is born, and then have to build trust and credibility with a new employer while dashing out the door to pick up your sick child from day care. The key here is to start planning early, rather than a few months out.
  • Build your skills. Regardless of the change that’s coming up, building your skills will boost your confidence as well as your ’employability’.  There are so many distance and online learning choices, as well as in-person options available through Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), TAFE institutions, universities and private colleges. A quick Google search on any of these terms in your state is likely to give you some options to explore. If you’re not sure what skills you need, or what direction to take your career, check out websites likewww.myfuture.edu.au that assist in exploring career options. If you love learning for the sake of learning, choose something you’re passionate about and go for it!  Never underestimate the difference having that ‘fire in your belly’ again can make to your life and your family. If you plan to be out of the workforce for a little while, building your skills becomes even more important, as there is an inevitable dip in confidence when you return to work. You feel out of sorts, thinking, “can I do this?”, “can I remember all of this?” Even just keeping in touch with what’s happening in your industry or company while you’re gone can help you to boost your confidence. And this can be done from the comfort of your home in front of the computer!
  • Network. I’m constantly amazed by what can be achieved through networking, which is really just talking to people. Especially if you’re planning to relocate, networking and talking with locals can boost your visibility (helpful when competing with others for that new job!) and can also help in accessing local support and resources. Try networking at your child’s new school or day care, a local sporting club etc. Likeminded people are always more likely to help out if you ask for information or referrals.

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Major life changes are never easy, but taking control of your career can help to cut some of the stress.  Really think about what you want; think about what it will look like; and go for it!

Don’t let someone else manage your career – it’s yours, own it!