So you’ve been out of the job market due to redundancy. Or maybe you’ve taken a career break or been on extended maternity leave.
It’s all very legitimate but that’s not the way some employers and interviewers see it.
Here are 5 steps to help you handle conversations about your career gap and, in fact, turn the gap into a positive differentiator which helps you stand out from the crowd.
• Planning a career change?
• Starting a new business?
• Taking an extended career break?
Well – here’s a suggestion – Don’t Give Up The Day Job!
Your “day job” – i.e. the “work you’re known for” is what pays the bills when you’re making a transition. It’s what provides some stability when your new business idea or career transition takes a stumble, which it will at some stage.
So as liberating as it is to say “I’ve left my banking/legal/marketing job forever!” – don’t do it.
Sometimes you need to shut one door before new ones begin to open up to you.
– You need to decide that you’re giving up on a project or business venture before ideas for a new venture show up.
– You need to make a firm decision to move on from an old job or career for new opportunities and ideas to show up.
– You need make a decision to change city or country before new options come up and before chance conversations come your way to create opportunities.
Intuitively we all know this to be true don’t we?
“We are dying from over-thinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap”
– Anthony Hopkins
Most people have a vague idea about the type of career or lifestyle change they’d like to make (even if they never share them with anyone else).
Some have aspirations for a completely new career. Some want a change in lifestyle and live in warmer climate or maybe in the countryside for a slower pace of life. Some dream of starting a small business or enjoying the flexibility of working part-time and enjoying a better work-life balance.
Despite these aspirations and very good intentions, most people never get their ideas off ground as they simply overthink things.
This over-thinking and over-planning usually results in overwhelm.
Which means they become paralyzed with indecision and do absolutely nothing. Over time the fear of change sets in and they become stuck until some major external event (e.g. redundancy, a health issue, a divorce or financial challenge) forces them to re-examine what it is they truly want.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Any major change process is never ever a linear, step by step process. By it’s very nature, ‘change’ has uncertainty and unpredictability built in. Which is precisely why it’s scary.
So whilst you can’t ‘plan’ such a change process in a linear, objective fashion, there is a more subjective methodology that will get you there much faster:
1. Have a broad direction in mind
Career Changer: “Sital, I need your advice.
I’m a qualified accountant but have taken a career break for a number of years for family reasons. I’m about to start a 12 month teacher training course and become a teacher. But I’m not too sure if I’m doing the right thing. What do you think?
Sital: “Firstly, tell me attracts you to teaching. What made you sign up for the course?”
Career Changer: “Well it’s the easy option”
Sital: “The easy option?”