How Do I Reinvent Myself?

What’s the best way to change your work life to fit with your current personal life?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am trying to reinvent myself so that I don’t have to work the long hours and can spend more time with my family. My question is about how to really go about doing this—what are my options? What fields could I transition into? I really feel that I am having a mid-life crisis and could use direction but I am not so sure where to turn or which way to go. And I am sure that I am not alone in this and that there are many women returning to the work force with similar concerns to mine.

Thanks, J.T. Millburn

 

Take time to reflect on your education, your work and life experience. How do these blend with your current interests? The key here is to leverage your past experiences with your future interests and passions. Evaluate your skills and abilities and think about what you do best. What do you enjoy doing? What do others tell you that you do well? This will give you a sense of your strengths to build on as you identify new possibilities.

Identify contacts within your network who can help introduce you to others in your target area of interest. Begin by networking within the industry you have identified.
Consider the following:

  • Attend seminars, webinars, and other related events to build up your knowledge of the industry “speak.” It will help you when speaking with hiring managers.
  • Network at related professional association meetings.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups and read the discussions to better understand what current trends, interests and priorities are in the new targeted industry.
  • Volunteer to learn new skills and expand your network.
  • Return to work through a staffing agency on a temporary basis. This will allow you to try a new work environment so you can determine the fit. As a company gets to know you, the better your chances are of negotiating a creative alternative work arrangement.

All of these options allow you to develop new relationships, learn and update your skills. To further evaluate your skills, you may consider working with a certified career coach to complete a formal skills assessment and help guide you in new career directions specific to your strengths.

A study about work-family issues conducted by the Pew Research Center and reported by Reuters, indicated “most people thought women should work, with 75 percent rejecting the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Although women account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce, many feel conflicted about the competing roles at work and at home, feeling guilt about how they are balancing work and children. But despite these pressures and conflicts, working moms, overall, are as likely as at-home moms and working dads to say they’re happy with their lives,” the researchers said in a statement. They found “36 percent of working mothers were very happy with their lives—the same as at-home mothers.”

Success is individually defined based on your own value system and needs. Most working moms juggle their priorities and are constantly rebalancing to make it work!

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Learn resiliency in face of career hurdles

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in The Star Ledger Guest Column “Hire Me” (www.nj.com)

The term “resilience” is defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change.

But how does this apply to careers?

Coming Back to Work After a Break

What’s the best way to present yourself when you decide to re-enter the workforce after a break?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

As I prepare to return to the job market after taking a deliberate break for the past four years, I struggle with how to present myself. Through a written resume, social media or in person—what is the best way to make connections?

MS
Short Hills

 

Jumping back into the job market after taking a break or sabbatical can be overwhelming. The market is challenging at present and the approach to connecting has changed significantly with social media and online presence that did not play a prominent role in the past.

Reconnecting with your network from prior work experiences is easier now due to social media. If you lost contact, you can typically find individuals on one of the many social boards. If you are interested in re-connecting with an old company, try connecting through LinkedIn where you can view current employees, new hires, former employees, recent changes and promotions.

Typically, one of the best ways to initiate connections is to begin to let your inner social circle know that you are interested in re-entering the job market. Begin exploratory discussions with them. Ask this inner circle for contacts that may be able to help you connect to selected companies or for opportunities that play into your skills and strengths. As this circle of connections grow, keep looping back to the people who gave you referrals and inform them of your activity and thank them.

When you do not know what you want to do next, try exploring job boards by advanced search and search on key words instead of searching by title. This option will show you listings that would never have surfaced based on title searches. As jobs are shifting and changing with the influence of social media and technology, there are many new job titles that exist today that did not exist in the past.

Exploring career opportunities can be very time consuming so be prepared to enjoy the journey of discovery. Once you identify a few jobs that interest you, explore some social boards and find individuals with these titles and consider conducting an informational interview to learn more about this type of work, what skills are required, what education and certifications are expected and how to break into this area.

Another way to gain knowledge about a career is to follow some subject matter experts on social boards, blogs and ask questions or follow discussions. This can help you learn about new areas and the terminology or buzz words associated with them. Doing research in your local library with a reference librarian can open your eyes to many new possibilities and it is free. You can also return to your alma mater’s career services center for support. Each college and university differs in their offerings, so call and ask which services you may be able to use.

Remember, we spend a significant portion of our time working, so enjoying what you do is a great privilege and one for which you can plan. Speaking with a career coach may be helpful.

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About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

How To Change Fields

What’s the best way to change fields during these economic times?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach Column” on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I’m interested in transitioning out of financial services field into another field. How do I transition to another field such as healthcare without having the experience? Most positions require this experience.

MC
Short Hills

 

You need to leverage your functional expertise. For example, if you are a technology professional, position yourself to sell your technical knowledge and how it relates to the desired new industry.

Identify contacts within your network that can help introduce you to your target companies. Begin to network within the industry by attending related professional association meetings, join LinkedIn Groups and watch the dialogue to understand what is on the minds of professionals within this new targeted industry.

Attend seminars, speakers and other related events to build up your knowledge of the industry “speak.” It will help you when speaking with hiring managers.

Consider trying to work your way in through an agency on a temporary basis so the company gets to know you. Consider volunteering some of your time within the industry. This will put you on the path to future opportunities within your targeted industry.

As the market becomes more robust, the request for specific industry experience will lighten up.

 

About this column: 

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Age Reality for Job Seekers

What should a mature job candidate do to land the position?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I have been consulting but have not been able to land a regular full time position. What best approaches do you suggest for those of us in our mid-late 50s who want full-time work? I truly believe that my age is a very real obstacle and many of my colleagues feel the same way. We all have impressive resumes, successful track records, yet don’t seem to be able to get anywhere. Your advice is appreciated.

L.F.
Short Hills

 

Typically most hiring managers see experienced candidates as more expensive than someone with less experience. With tight budgets, you need to sell the value you bring to the opportunity and why you are the best candidate.

Recently, I coached a client headed into a second round of interviews with a startup company. The CEO was 28 years old and his team members were all under 35, according to my client. The client proceeded to tell the CEO that they needed his “seasoning” for this startup. He continued, “Just think of the mistakes you can avoid with my expertise and the networks that I can leverage for you that a less experienced player would not have.” This landed him the position a few days later after some additional negotiations.

Some additional negotiations you may consider include a reduced work schedule, additional paid time off (vacation, sick, personal and holiday time) and/or equity in the company (useful in startup and turnaround situations). The value of a reduced work week enables the company to have your expertise while fitting your pay within their proposed budget. It is typically a win-win situation. Having a reduced work week can enable you to continue consulting, pursue additional education or certifications. Once there is an expression of mutual interest, ask whether the company’s benefits allow flex scheduled employees to participate in the benefit plans. Many companies offer benefits for employees who work reduced schedules, sometimes as low as 20 or 30 hours per week.

As a mature candidate, you need to understand your skills and how it relates to the current market’s demands. You need to understand what the company is seeking, what their in- house talent consists of and what this open position needs to bring to their mix. Make sure your technology skills are current. There are many courses offered online (webinars) and at many public libraries to learn for free. Ask a friend, a student and/or a relative who is tech savvy to train you. Experiment with social media sites such as LinkedIn and learn by following group discussions. Play with Facebook and Twitter, review blogs and other online communities. A word of advice is to be aware of the settings that turn off notifications alerting others every time you are making edits. Taking the initial leap of faith—to sign on—it only takes one moment of courage and many moments of learning hopefully with limited frustrations.

Your next job opportunity is most probably coming from someone who knows you, your work and understands the value you bring to the job. Now is the time to rekindle your relationships with former colleagues, staff and students that you may have mentored in the past. Tis the season to engage—enjoy holiday gatherings, share what you have to offer, be positive and learn from those around you. How you engage will say it all.

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

 

Age of Wisdom or Discrimination?

How can you avoid age discrimination in your job search when you jump back into the fold?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

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