Throughout January, I’m interviewing ordinary women doing extraordinary things.
Given that starting a job search is a popular decision in the New Year, this month my focus is on how to find a new job.
I’m hosting a series of Career Conversations to give you inspiration and encouragement if you’re currently job hunting.
To get involved with the Career Conversations, join us in the pop-up Facebook group where you can listen to the interviews live or catch up on the recordings after the event.
The first interview is with Sarah Groszweski.
How to find a job after a long career break
Sarah’s career started on the JP Morgan graduate scheme. However she discovered that she didn’t really like working in investment banking.
She moved to a recruitment role – even though she knew nothing at that time about recruitment. She thought it would be more fun, more fast-paced and better money!
And she was right. She then moved to an in-house recruitment role. However after children, she decided not to go back to that role, for various reasons.
Sarah decided instead to take a career break from a formal career. While on this career break (which lasted four years), she started doing freelance work.
Working as a freelancer gave Sarah flexibility but longer term she knew she wanted the stability and security of a permanent role.
The freelance work was varied however it all centred around writing – writing website content, blog posts, book reviews, etc.
The power of transferrable skills
On the surface, this sounds like something completely different but in fact Sarah had always been a writer – at JP Morgan, she had been involved with the review of response to bids and tenders.
In her recruitment roles she regularly wrote job descriptions, job adverts and was involved in internal communications.
Sarah had discovered the power of transferring her writing skills from one sector to another.
Sarah found writing really easy but realised she didn’t want to carry on doing this on a freelance basis.
The pressure of finding a job
Sarah moved out of London when she became a single mum. This was the crucial tipping point. She knew she needed more security and stability in terms of income. She also wanted more intellectual stimulation. And a social life outside of her 4 year old’s play dates.
At first she felt under pressure to take any job. She worried about the stigma of being a single mum. She thought she’d be judged.
People questioned her decision to turn down the first job that was offered.
A wise friend said to her “Don’t lower your expectations just because you’re a mum“.
What helped Sarah’s job search
Sarah applied for many jobs and had four job interviews before she found her new job.
She turned down one job offer because the salary was too low and the hours too varied, making childcare difficult to manage.
Her new (part-time) role is as a Bid Writer for a higher education institute which perfectly combines her skills and talents. Even better it’s just a couple of minutes walk from her home.
What Sarah found most helpful in her job search after a long career break was:
- Having a supportive friend on her side.
- Being very clear about what she wanted from a job.
- Identifying her skills and talents.
- Interview coaching which gave her confidence. The feedback from the interview was that she came across as enthusiastic and engaged.
Sarah’s job hunting tips after a career break
- Focus on what you’re looking for and what’s important to you. Once you have that clarity, you can decide whether it’s worth investing time in the job application.
- Get clear on what you do / don’t want in a job. What can you compromise on? What can you be flexible about e.g. hours, location, sector?
- Mindset – decide what’s important to you about your future employer. Is career progression important? Is on-the-job training important? What about the other benefits e.g. flexible working, pension etc?
If you enjoyed Sarah’s story, join us for more job hunting stories in the Career Conversations group.
Listen to the interviews live or catch up on the recordings afterwards (and no sign-up required).
p.s. if you are currently job hunting and would like practical and personal support, check out Job Search Confidence.