I was having a conversation with an acquaintance recently and after mentioning to her that I am looking to go back to work on a full-time basis again, she said to me “no offense, but you really aren’t that marketable.” Not marketable? Wow! That stung.
Later that day, I took my car in for an inspection. My mechanic said that the tires on the car needed to be rotated. I didn’t need new ones, but they needed to be switched around, rearranged and changed for optimum performance. They’d then be up and running and good as new.
Sounds crazy, but I went home and thought about what the acquaintance had said AND about the tires that needed to be rotated. And then it hit me.
I needed a “career tune-up”.
I’ve always heard about “career counselors” but never thought that was something I would ever seek out. I mean, what could they tell me that I didn’t already know I should be doing? I’m a former school teacher, a Reading Specialist, and I worked in the non-profit sector for several years and have always thought that being in the “helping professions” was the place I wanted to be and the right fit. So while I often turn my back on these types of coaches or self-help programs, this time I was game. I decided to give it a go and at least try to be open-minded. Isn’t the 52 weeks all about doing something that I could benefit from but that may be out of my comfort zone or routine?
MYOBMoms is dedicated to helping moms who are out the workforce raising families re-enter the workplace or explore new career opportunities. Faced with a similar professional identity crisis several years ago, Pamela and her business partner, Barri Waltcher, turned their own situations into a successful and rewarding second act. They took their skills as a seasoned writer and successful lawyer, respectively, and really thought about how they could repackage the skills they had acquired. They ultimately received degrees in career management, becoming career advisors to other women with similar experiences. Let’s face it: even Oprah changed courses recently after twenty-five years as the host of her larger-than-life TV show. In fact, coincidentally, her web site recently featured an article about famous people who changed careers later in life; including Josie Natori (Wall Street banker turned designer), Joy Behar (didn’t become a comedian until age 40), Andrea Bocelli (lawyer turned uber-singer) and many more.
I must admit, as I knocked on Pamela’s door, I had no idea what to expect. But my meeting with her was unexpectedly enlightening. Pamela listened and more importantly, heard. Part therapy session, part strategic business meeting, she definitely opened my mind and forced me to look at my goals in a new way. She also made me really think about what I am truly looking for in a career (or even just “a job”) and what I am capable of. I think sometimes women of a certain age lose their self-confidence. Pamela really addressed that with me — and then some.
The meeting was very productive. We discussed my previous work experience and sifted through what I liked and disliked about my past jobs–really focusing on which skills I liked using the most when I felt most satisfied. It was decided that I would create a new resume presenting my qualifications in a skills-based format, highlighting skills rather than former jobs–an effective technique often used for career changers and people re-entering the workplace after a “break”. I also came away with a few contacts and leads so I could begin the important task of networking and arranging informational interviews to learn more about the fields I was interested in pursuing.
Pamela even gave me a homework assignment. Ugh! She guided me through a career values exercise. It sounded hokey to me at first but it actually helped me sort through what factors were important to me career-wise (i.e. flexibility, earning potential, autonomy). The questionnaire allowed me to see that sometimes the job you think you want may not truly be the job that fits your values.
Like so many other 40-something women who left the career track behind, switched into a slower lane or pulled over completely (mainly to raise a family), I am now faced with trying to squeeze back into the moving lane. Just as a car may need its tires rotated or a new paint job, this 40-something mom needed a little tune-up and repackaging too to help get back up to speed!
This week’s Getting Unstuck Sticky Notes:
- I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: it’s okay to ask for help. Another point of view often puts it all in perspective. And affirmation is not a terrible thing either!
- Repackage yourself. Times change, trends change, you’ve changed. Embrace that and use it to your advantage. Take a class in your chosen field to get back up to speed.
- Don’t just join Linked In, use it! And for that matter, become familiar with using Facebook and Twitter for your job search. Mashable.com has great tutorials too.
- Sit down and finish that resume.
- Talk to people and network! As great as social media is for a job search, nobody gets a job sitting at home in front of their computer. Join a networking group, take a class or attend an association meeting in your chosen field. You have to get out and meet people.
- DO NOT sell yourself short. You are qualified AND you are marketable. You just may need a little updating. The good news is that statistically, the majority of women who want to go back to work will be successful in landing a job.
Posted: 10/31/11 8:34 AM