Let’s face it, the days of receiving a gold watch for thirty-plus years of service to one company is so 1980. Today, most people will work for multiple employers during their careers and may even explore various industries. Whether you’re thinking about re-entry or just looking for something new, career pathing can be tough. Not to worry. This month, we’ve asked Suzan Beck for her guidance on navigating a career change. Suzan is an Executive Career Advisor and the Managing Partner of BECK2 Consulting, a leadership coaching, consulting and facilitation practice that works with individuals and organizations. This one is share-worthy!
Q: As a stay-at-home parent, what is your advice for keeping business skills fresh to re-launch a career?
- Stay engaged. Serve on a school board, community organization board, or advisory committee. It does not have to be engagement in your industry, however, my next point is exactly that.
- Continue networking in your industry. Stay involved and stay current. Once a quarter, twice a year, participate in a professional organization by serving on a committee (e.g., golf tourney once a year), or volunteer to register people at a networking event. If time allows, I also strongly suggest continuing education, even if it’s an Excel class online while the little ones are napping.
- Never, never, never stop networking. LinkedIn has given us all the great gift of staying in touch with our colleagues in a business platform. The platform is designed to keep you informed and reminds you to stay in touch to grow your network. Use it 1-4 times a year or seasonally, such as around the holidays, to say hello or congratulate people on career highlights.
Q: How does one go about exploring a new career?
- Get help. A job coach or career consultant is the very best way to explore your options in a safe and encouraging environment. A coach can direct you to the appropriate personality inventories and can help you learn to identify the jobs and industries that are best suited for you and your family.
- Network, network, and one more thing, network. Think about it… you can always be networking. I have a friend who was hired to her dream job by chatting with a woman in the next seat at the theater. You are networking when you speak to someone in line at the grocery store, or waiting for a friend at a restaurant. Give it a try the next time you are out!
- Don’t be shy. Talk to everyone. Be visible. Reach out to people you know, ask for introductions to someone in a job or a company of which you are interested. The key here is to be clear on 3 things: who you are, what you want, and how they can help you.
Q: What advice do you give for the interview process?
- Remember the power of three. The simple truth is that our brains process information in numbers and studies show that we humans remember information in groups of…yup – 3’s. Leave your potential employer with the three strongest, most powerful selling points that you have to offer. Develop your points in advance so that you speak with conviction and be concise.
- Use your resources. Check with your university alumni group. They often have events for this exact thing (it’s also great for your networking!).
- Prepare and practice. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle. I can’t say it any better than Aristotle.
Q: What is your advice to those that think they are too old to embark on a new career path?
- One is never too old to begin anything. I have many stories about successful new careers at all ages. The key is to know what you want. Define it, shape your story using how your skills and experience can be utilized in the new role or endeavor, and (3rd thing) take ownership of it, so you are compelling.
- Consider finances. This is critical to any transition. Financial planning is essential when searching for a new job or considering a new career. Understand and set your boundaries, your budget, and time anticipated for the career path to take hold.
- Be relevant and be sure your look is current. Seek the advice of career or image consultants regarding hair, makeup, dress, and demeanor. Know the trends. Also, keep your computer use, technology, and communication skills ready to launch. There are several new organizations helping women restart their careers such as iRelaunch, The Mom Project, Procter and Gamble.
Q: In your experience, how does work-life balance play a role in career searching?
- Think about it differently. To live a long healthy life, balance is essential. I prefer the term “life balance” to “work-life balance.” Our work is a very large part of our lives, so let’s include it when we talk about our lives. Life balance includes everything we find important and spend our time on, and we can only be successful when we are balanced to our whole self.
- Look ahead. Like good financial planning, career planning is vital to getting what you want and finding balance. There may be a time for us to “pay our dues,” which is fine; we can all endure stress for short periods of time. In fact, it’s something our brains need to get things done and to improve. Embrace it as a stepping stone for a short period (1-3 years). But, after that, working in a job with extreme stress, over-hours, or with difficult people or environments is not manageable and, in fact, dangerous on many levels. Think through your future in a role, before taking the job.
- Do your homework. When considering a company, do your homework on the culture to see if your values line up. Peruse their website to see what you can find on their community activity or who we are pages. Read employee profiles on LinkedIn and recommendations given. Know that this type of research will only get you so far. Take your due diligence to the next level and reach out to someone you know who works at the company or get an introduction and ask about their experience. And, by all means, in an interview, ask the interviewer(s) about why they like working at the company.
About Suzan Beck: Suzan holds an MBA from Pepperdine University, a BA in Organizational Management from Vanguard University and the designation of Associate Certified Coach (ACC)™ with The International Coach Federation. She is a Results-Trained Coach by the NeuroLeadership Institute, NY and works with senior executives in a range of industries: Financial, FinTech, Entertainment, Defense-Aerospace, Telecom, Healthcare and Real Estate. If you have any questions or would like more information on Suzan’s advisory practice, you can email her.