Career Break to Career Change – Job Search Truths

Career Break to Career Change - Job Search Truths

Thinking of taking a career break? Trying to re-enter the job market after one can be daunting. It was simple. I knew what I had done so far. I knew I needed a break. I knew I needed a change. Here is what I didn’t know……

The break – OK, I knew these, but they are worth emphasising.

  • Have a solid reason for taking a career break
  • Keep industry updated during your career break
  • Have a solid stash of cash available for the break, or at least some other income


Changing Career – Just because I want to, doesn’t mean they want me to.

  • It is not easy – restructure your CV well, close any skill gaps where practical
  • Apply for new jobs in BOTH old and new career (just in case)
  • Consider changing careers from within a company first
  • Expect to suffer severe emotional doubt, “am I doing the right thing”?
  • If you fail to get a position, don’t think of it as a failure, its a path to new discovery


The Process – Calling it a process is perhaps generous, but these where some of the steps.

  • The job search takes at least twice as long as expected, don’t be scared or rush into anything
  • The common interview steps are (in order): chatting to the recruiter on the phone, meeting the recruiter face-to-face, chatting to the potential employer companies HR department on the phone, speaking to your potential direct manager on the phone, meeting with your potential manager and other parties face-to-face, and more
  • The time between the interview steps above can be long (as long as 3 weeks) as you play tag with the coordinator, interviewer, HR and recruiter
  • Prepare standard answers for multiple standard interview questions – these are freely available on websites
  • I suggest looking for a job while being employed is easier (and perhaps makes you look less desperate)
  • Most times, just after you have accepted a position, suddenly numerous (better?) positions will be presented to you


The Network – Powerful, valued.

  • Seek advice from friend who recently went through job search
  • Get referred to a new company by a friend first, rather than agent or job board
  • Networking with old colleagues is important, find out where they have moved to
  • Good jobs and employees often don’t come from recruiters, they come from networking


The Recruiter – Not all are created equal. Not at all.

  • Recruiters are slow to respond, slow to move through the job process and don’t always communicate updates
  • Chasing recruiters for follow-up regularly is best
  • Once you have a job, letting recruiters know that you are out the market is important
  • Some recruiters are helpful, others not, some just want industry info (or are flesh peddling)
  • Recruiters often show industry relevant content on LinkedIn, not only jobs, so stay updated on LinkedIn
  • Instead of submitting your CV via a job portal, call the recruitment company advertised to speak to them about the job
  • Don’t apply for the same job through multiple agencies (tell an agent nicely if you have another agent working on it)
  • Don’t apply through a companies portal if an agent can rather represent you – they know the contacts and requirements
  • Be totally honest with recruiters, they appreciate it, and will work harder for you
  • Heed a recruiters good advice properly, some are very good
  • Face time is very important!


LinkedIn – Over-hyped, Under-utilised.

  • LinkedIn is more helpful than originally thought, great to link with (some) recruiters
  • Posting links, stories, news, updates on LinkedIn is important (they promote active users)


Job Boards – A bit scatter-gun in it’s volume approach, but worth looking at to get a feel for what is out there.

  • Try multiple job boards
  • Job boards are tedious, not neat, but informative
  • Specific industry-related job boards are the best
  • They are a volume business and often front multiple other job boards, so can be confusing


The Prospective Employer – A lot of unknowns.

  • Knowing what the employer wants is not easy, unless the job spec is well thought-out
  • Often the employer doesn’t know what they want until they see it, so a job spec is deliberately vague
  • A job spec is often a wishlist
  • Do yourself a favour: Show a very keen interest in the industry, your job role, the company (fake it if need be, until even you believe it is true)
  • Have a good set of questions for the company, tailored for their company, tailored for the job

So, a career break, followed by a career change, to a new job. Not exactly a smooth transition, but better than the alternative, a pigeon holed career I inadvertently found myself in.

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