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. 

How Do I Choose the Right Job?

How do you choose between a quality of life opportunity and one with more pay?

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

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I have two offers to choose from. Here is the situation—one offer is for a high level demanding job with long hours and great pay; the other one is a four-day work week with limited scope and a lot less pay. I am intrigued with the more demanding position, yet I am nervous about returning to work after being unemployed for 13 months. My quality of life with my family during this 13 month period has been great—attending my kids’ shows at school, sporting events, etc. I wrestle with taking the lesser job just to keep the family time yet I am concerned that my spouse’s job may be in jeopardy. Do I go for the one that will carry us if my spouse losses their job or go with the quality of life choice? How do I choose?

A.T., Short Hills

 

First, congratulations for receiving two offers. This speaks to your ability to connect and market yourself. As to how to decide which one to take—this is a personal choice. You and your spouse should discuss the pros and cons of each job.

Do you have a “gut” reaction to these offers? A “gut” reaction is what you initially thought and felt as the recruiter extended the offer. I typically suggest to my clients that they keep a”gut”reaction journal including their thoughts when first contacted for the opportunity, when preparing for the interview and after the interview. Note how you felt in the environment you would be working in, the colleagues and vendors you would be in contact with and your family’s reactions to the change it may bring to their lives. Keep in mind that if you are asking a teenager to relocate, you may not receive a favorable response. Consider each person’s perspective when taking in their feedback. Sometimes the best questions come from the most innocent minds.

When any position is offered, you want to consider what it offers you now and in the future—how does it fit into your short- and long-term career and life plans? Does it offer you entry into a new industry or function? Does it offer you access to subject matter experts? Does it build your network for future growth? Can you establish yourself and eventually design the workload to evolve the job into what you want? Does it fit into your financial plans?

Keep in mind people often make the difference on how a job plays out. A rigid four-day per week position may offer less balance than the traditional demanding job in a culture that supports the whole person—work-life balance. Evaluate these offers based on the people you will be working with and the culture of the organizations.

 

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.