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.