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Making a career change... How to do it?

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Making a career change... How to do it?

Post by Ludmilla » Wed April 13th, 2011, 3:40 pm

I’m trying to prepare myself for making some lasting changes to my life. I’ve been in a decade-long rut and unhappy with my work, but it hasn’t been so horrible that I’ve been willing to forgo the security of the salary I make. I’m well paid for what I do (essentially provide executive support in a large office for a global firm). However, my oldest daughter will be starting middle school in the fall, which is going to require some advanced planning on my part. I’ve already decided to take a leave of absence from work this summer so I can be with the kids and spend more time with my husband. He’s been assigned to a long-term project three time zones away from where we live, so I get no help from him in terms of child care and shuttling kids back and forth during the school year. I really don’t have anyone who lives reasonably close to me that I can rely on for help either (and being the loner/independent type, I’m not sure I would want it).

My current role at work wasn’t designed to support flexible work hours or working from home, so I know when I come back to work I’m going to have to look for something else within the firm that would allow a 30-hour or less work week or look for another job entirely. Or, I could decide to stay home for a while. Since I’m already suffering from burn out, I’d like to do something very different, but after years of stagnation, virtually sleep walking through my job, I’m at a loss how to go about making changes or even what I want to do with myself. The world has changed so much since I last had to look for a job. I’ve never been very good at networking or overselling my accomplishments and abilities, and that seems to be more essential than ever in today’s rabidly social environment.

My husband and I are also at a place in our lives where we could afford to take some risks now. If I didn’t work, we’d have to make some lifestyle adjustments, but we’d get by. I don’t particularly relish the thought of being without income for a long period of time, but I could deal with a sporadic on/off again situation. I'm so tired of my time being owned by other people. I want to be able to manage my own time.

Has anyone here had to make a career change, redefine themselves, learn new skills in order to do something different? I’m at a loss where to begin or even what I can reasonably accomplish that would still allow me to take care of home and family (that’s really key at this stage, I think).

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Post by fljustice » Wed April 13th, 2011, 4:22 pm

Life changes can be scary, exhilarating, exhausting and rewarding and everyone who does it, walks their own path. You are obviously unhappy and probably ready for a change. Wanting to manage your own time and work is a universal yearning. You have to know yourself--your tolerance for risk; needs for income, security, health insurance; what gives you satisfaction, spiritual and moral satisfaction; how your choices affect others in your life.

I did career counseling in a former life and would highly recommend seeking out a reputable counselor in your area. A couple of sessions for a modest fee will be invaluable in helping you look at yourself and chart a future course. You will have to do the work yourself, the counselor won't do it for you, but will provide the framework and tools. If you don't want to consult a counselor or prefer DIY, check out the library career section--there are dozens of great books and workbooks. A tried and true resource is What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles (get the most updated version.)

Good luck and feel free to PM me.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed April 13th, 2011, 5:06 pm

Ludmilla, it's wonderful that you want to spend more time with your kids in middle school. I have three grown children and two stepchildren, besides having taught live-in parenting to a number of women (we ran a transition home for most of the nineties), and you are very wise. The middle school years are when kids pull away from their family, and you want to be careful to provide opportunities where they can have that sense of beginning independence without stumbling into a pit that their inexperience cannot detect.

I can't help much with the career stuff, because (besides the former decade-long choice, which was largely unpaid, anyway) because of my sons' disabilities (ADHD/bipolar) I have always had to freelance, whether in bit-writing jobs, home design and remodeling, or raising and training llamas and running a wilderness outfitting business. But I do have a few pieces of advice.

One of the most important things for you to do is to work on your support circle. It sounds like you have not taken the time to nurture that, and it does take both thought and nurturing. You probably plan to supervise your children's friends and relationships (watch them like a hawk -- never taking you eye off them, but from a bit of a distance, so it isn't too intrusive). Your own should be equally important AS PART OF YOUR PARENTING PLAN, because at this age your kids aren't going to listen to what you say as much as they will observe what you model and decide whether to accept or reject the values you stand for according to how they perceive those values are working for you.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, our personalities are indelibly shaped by the personalities of those we associate with. (Any animal trainer who has worked with herds or packs knows this. Why do humans think that they can ignore the biology of their own species? Okay, trainer's rant over.)

Might I suggest finding/reconnecting with groups whose major purpose is social support? Look into sororities, churches, synagogues, mosques and nonprofit causes, whatever flavor you can commit to. And put effort into it, even before it is easy. As one dear mentor of mine used to say, "Emily, build your bridges before you need to cross them."
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Wed April 13th, 2011, 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Margaret » Thu April 14th, 2011, 3:41 am

What a great opportunity, Ludmilla, to be able to afford to take some risks right now to find a new career that will really suit you, instead of staying in a rut. Just the fact that you won't have to take whatever you can get will make you more attractive to potential employers, because it allows you to be more relaxed and to really be yourself in a job interview. About 20 years ago, I made a jump from being a secretary/assistant to working as the development director (fundraising) for a nonprofit conservation organization. In my last secretarial position I had dabbled just a bit in the fundraising end of things, and then I jumped to an unpaid position with a struggling small museum, where I applied for and got the first grant funding they had ever received, then I moved to a salaried job with an established organization. The reason it worked out, I think, is because I was really interested in grant-writing, so my enthusiasm for that type of work came through. At each stage of the process, I emphasized on my resume what I had done in my last job that showed I had experience that I could build on.

A great first step would be to think about what skills you have that you really enjoy using. Even if you feel like they're in a somewhat undeveloped state, your natural talents are the ones you can quickly develop once you get into a job that uses them. Like many enthusiastic readers, you have writing skill - your post here is clear evidence of that, because it's well organized and clearly written, with good grammar and spelling, but in a casual style that is easy for people to read and relate to. Good writing skills are not as common as you may think, and they are in high demand in a wide variety of jobs, so that is one important strength of yours that will help you stand out.
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Post by stu1883 » Thu April 14th, 2011, 1:39 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Might I suggest finding/reconnecting with groups whose major purpose is social support? Look into sororities, churches, synagogues, mosques and nonprofit causes, whatever flavor you can commit to. And put effort into it, even before it is easy. As one dear mentor of mine used to say, "Emily, build your bridges before you need to cross them."[/quote]

This sounds like an amzing idea and very good advice.

Ludmilla, I was (in a previous life, before my illness took hold) a Recruitment Consultant and have talked countless people through this exact scenario. This is what I suggest, with respect of course:

Work out your schedule and list days/times when you are needed at home and then seperate out the times you will be able to work.

Look at your skillset - what do you do well, what do you enjoy doing? Try and identify what skills you have that could be transferred to a different role. How can you use what you have to do a good job with someone else or for yourself?

Are there vacancies within an employed environment where you will be tested, challenged and fulfilled within the hours you are able to work? If not, will you compromise or consider self-employment or volunteering?

Carefully and truthfully look at your life, support network and possible avenues of interest that you can look into and consider. Most importantly, however, also do this with this the negative and less appealing aspects of your life i.e what happens if I cannot work due to child care, if my husband continues to work away how will I cope longterm, am I confident enough to take this big step and do I believe in myself enough to do it?

I hope this helps - good luck with your plans and if you do want some advice or an objective viewpoint on something, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Last edited by stu1883 on Thu April 14th, 2011, 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: rubbish formatting!

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