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Career Change Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

How Important Is Your CV To Gaining Employment?

“I must get my CV updated!” “I haven’t done one for years – I have no idea where to start!” “How will I explain my career break?” “What’s the best format to write my CV in?” “How can I make my CV work for me when I want to change career?”

These are statements I hear several times a week. The CV is still perceived as the ticket to a job by many. The make or break of those endless applications… Do we still need to be wedded to our CVs in this way? Are employers primarily focussed on the content of your CV? How long do they even spend reading your carefully crafted document you spent hours perfecting?

Your CV in Six seconds.

Six seconds is the average time a Recruiter spends scanning a CV at the application stage. It doesn’t balance with the hours you put into it does it?

At this point in time, CVs still form a part of a recruitment process in most cases. Even if other assessment methods are used at the application stage, we are still very likely to be asked to submit a CV.

However, with 72% of organisations reporting at the start of 2020 they struggle to find the right skill set via CV applications – despite an average of 250 applicants per role (Gurvinder Singh –TechRank) -are CVs the best tool for recruiting? Based on these stats, they aren’t working. But why?

It could have something to do with the six second scan time I mentioned above! It could be due to a CV really only representing how good you are at writing a CV. If you are great at packing loads of potential keywords into your CV so an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) flags you as a good fit, you will get an interview. If you have great skills but your CV doesn’t have the keywords, maybe you won’t be invited for the next stage.

CVs are highly impacted by reader’s interpretation and unconscious(and conscious) bias. Is English your second language? If your CV isn’t written as eloquently due to this, you may be rejected, despite being a great fit for the job. A CV is a page of words. A picture is formed from it’s contents and inferences are made unconsciously. A CV does not demonstrate how good we are at anything, how much support we had or if our skills are actually a bit rusty.

So what is the answer?

I mentioned keywords – if I could give one tip it would be to get as many keywords, that fit the job description, into your CV as possible! That way you are more likely to get through the ATS. But if CVs are essentially just a piece of paper reflecting how good we are at writing CVs, what more can we do?

Sticking with CVs for a moment, there are other ways to write or present them.

Skills based CVs

Skills based CVs are becoming increasingly popular. This is a small shift but allows you to present your skills or competencies on the first page – outlining what you good at and how you have demonstrated them in various roles. You can then list your chronological experience on the second page but with no need for lots of detail. The point of this is to pull out the relevant stuff and hit the reader with it off the bat, on page one. Abby Clandon, a Recruiter within the care sector shared she “doesn’t mind what type of CV we receive, as long as it displays why (you) are the right candidate… A combination of skills based with chronological content is best”.

Matthew Metcalfe of Covea Insurance Plc went as far as saying that the “CV plays a tiny part in identifying talent… the most important moment is when we get to speak to the candidates”. Which got me thinking, we need to be talking to Recruiters and hiring managers as soon as possible – ideally before a role is even advertised!

Networking

Business Insider has reported upwards of 70% of jobs never reach the job boards. 70%! Another reason the traditional “apply with your CV route” is possibly dying out. This of course opens up all sorts of arguments around equal opportunities etc, but it is happening whether we agree with it or not. So the “I must update my CV” is not the best place to start.

Networking is vital. If you have been able to speak to someone, build a relationship before the request for a CV comes. You are definitely more than a few steps ahead. It also means, if a CV is requested you will already have insider info ensuring your CV is more relevant. As Abby Clandon shared, the key thing she looks for is passion for the area of work. So much so in fact her organisation doesn’t even insist on sending a CV. Their assessment is primarily focussed on a values based interview.

Video CV

Getting your personality, your passion and your skills across to a potential employer will definitely make you stand apart from the crowd of Word documents and PDFs. Video CVs are becoming more popular in the graduate space and in the US. There is no reason these cannot be used for professional roles here in the UK. Of course you will want to stick to the application criteria, which may include a written CV. But there is nothing stopping you supplementing your application with a short, 1-2 minute intro video. A short intro to you, why you want the job and what you can bring to it. This is like giving them that first impression they would get in a face-to-face interview, but much earlier on.

Get Creative with your CV

We have all read the stories about people mailing boxes of cakes to employers with their CV printed over the box. This would be great for a Graphic Designer for example, but maybe not so much for an Accountant. That said – why not?

I have seen people turn CVs into QR codes printed across a picture of their face. IT professionals converting their CVs into a mini video game. Ok, cakes or video games may not play to your strengths, but finding ways to stand out that are relevant to your industry and reaching the right Recruiters and Hiring Managers may well get you a meeting. At least purely on the basis of standing out.

Visual CVs

Whilst based on the format of a traditional CV, this tool allows you to produce a document accessible via a link. You can embed video, blogs, PowerPoint documents and more. This allows you to easily amend your visual CV to match potential jobs or to send whilst networking. This is a great choice for those that still wish to have a document (you can download as a PDF) whilst adding more personal touches to get your personality across.

So what does all this mean? The traditional CV doesn’t seem to be disappearing, but it isn’t the only tool in your box. Rather than agonising over your CV as your first step into your job search, switch your focus. Add more to your Linked In profile to make it relevant for the job you want. Make use of video or visual tools to supplement your networking and applications. You will stand a better chance of getting noticed. Whilst employers still use CVs, as technology progresses it is likely they will become less and less important. I can’t say you no longer need one, but make use of the tools out there get more creative, more adaptable – more YOU! It is YOU that will get the job – your CV, is simply your sales and marketing tool.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

For more advice on CV’s:

How To Approach A CV When You’ve Had A Career Break

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Diversity and Inclusion High Profile Returners Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

Imposter Syndrome – Fix Bias, Not Women

Imposter Syndrome. We have all heard of it. If you are a high-achieving female you may well think you have it. If you don’t, you will know many others that do.  But, what if Imposter Syndrome isn’t real? What if it is a resulting factor of society and biology combined?

The 66% of women ‘suffering’ with Imposter Syndrome (according to a study by Access Commercial Finance) may be shouting “no, it’s definitely real”. Bare with me…

You can loosely define imposter syndrome as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.

Where did Imposter Syndrome come from?

Psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes developed the concept. Originally termed “imposter phenomenon,” in their 1978 founding study. The study focused on 150 high-achieving women. They recorded that “despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.”

This study, despite it being based on just 150 participants, spurred decades of development programmes and initiatives. These were all in an effort to address imposter syndrome in women. Many high-profile women have shared they suffer with IS. Examples include – former First Lady Michelle Obama and Tennis champion Serena William. If you want to find out how to “overcome” Imposter Syndrome, a quick Google search shows up more than 5 million results.

What if Women Aren’t The Problem?

What’s less well explored, is why imposter syndrome exists in the first place. The advent came with the study mentioned above in 1978, but what about before then? Did it just not happen? Or has something changed in society or with “sufferers” that has resulted in this pandemic?

A theory I subscribe to is that workplace systems and simple biology may have a lot to answer for. Currently, women are almost blamed for having Imposter Syndrome. They are told they are suffering and need to overcome it. They are ‘diagnosed’ with a condition. So, it must be down to them.

Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey explored this further. Their published findings, in a Harvard Business Review article, share “imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests… Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.”

Maybe You Are Just Normal!

Feeling uncomfortable, second-guessing yourself and mild anxiety are all normal. These feelings are more prevalent in women at work. Men of course experience similar feelings. However, men are often selected based on capability rather than history. The opposite is true for women. It stands to reason if you haven’t done a certain thing before suddenly you feel out of your depth. As a man’s potential is validated over time, feelings of doubt are reduced. Add on the fact men are easily able to find role models in the workplace. Mentors who are like them and are less inclined to question their competence. It therefore makes sense that these very normal feelings have a lesser impact and are less likely to be labelled.

Women experience the opposite. We question if we have the credentials we need to achieve. We hear “women often suffer with Imposter Syndrome”. In fact career development programmes aimed at women almost always have a session on “overcoming imposter syndrome”. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When women demonstrate strength, ambition, and resilience, they are often described as “aggressive” or “overly assertive”. The idea of imposter syndrome doesn’t take account of workplace dynamics and suggests women need to deal with the “issue”instead.

Men Are From Mars…

It is a biological fact women are programmed to be more risk averse. They are more likely to be perfectionists. Jessica Baker, a Business Psychologist, says we are wired to not step too far into the unknown – left from when we needed fear to protect us, and our young. Also, there are a disproportionate number of men in leadership roles. This means falsely equating confidence with certain traits that are most often demonstrated by male leaders. We then interpret these traits as competence and leadership. Thus, if we don’t have these certain male dominant traits, we question ourselves, decide we lack confidence and diagnose Imposter Syndrome.

Fixing Bias and Society – Not Women

The “fix women’s imposter syndrome” narrative has persisted, decade after decade. Perhaps instead workplaces should focus on creating a culture for women that addresses bias.

In the mid-1990s Clance, the ‘founder’ of Imposter Syndrome suggested the impostor phenomenon could also be attributed as far back as the way girls are communicated with as children. People would compliment girls on being “pretty” and “chatty”. Whilst “Brave” and “intelligent” used for boys. These concepts can define us. It is therefore easier to put success down to luck or being liked. Not individual success.

All this said, I do not totally dismiss Imposter Syndrome as “a thing”. But, I do wonder if

  • we address healthy, normal self-doubt via supportive work cultures,
  • seeing more women in positions of leadership and
  • not using vague feedback like “you need to better develop your leadership qualities”.

we may be in a better place.

Is Imposter Syndrome is a stand-alone syndrome? Or is it a result of complex societal, biological and workplace factors? Either way, it still affects us.

Then how do we deal with it? Ask yourself “where is the evidence that you are doing a terrible job or making bad decisions?”. The fear is irrational. Your current experience of it is often far worse than the negative outcome you are anticipating.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents, find their paths back to career happiness. Find Rebecca via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

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Child Care Dads Flexible Careers Gender Pay Gap Parental Coaching Parenting and Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

Management- Where is the female talent?

A third of organisations globally have no female talent in senior management roles (market-inspector.co.uk).  This was reported before Covid, it has been reported Covid has had a disproportionate impact on the careers of women. A LinkedIn study found that women were less likely to be hired than men during peak lockdown periods. Despite more women being made redundant or leaving jobs. 

There are so many things that may be contributing to these damaging statistics. Are women not applying to roles due to prioritisation of the overwhelming childcare and home-schooling plunged upon them? Are men not doing enough to support women and so they feel they can’t apply for a new job? Do organisations discourage their male employees requesting the flexibility that would allow their female partners to re-engage into the workforce? Or are organisations not considering female talent in the same volume as those from men? And therefore, even if unintentionally, contributing to these statistics?

Given the data recently shared by Find Your Flex, it is clear, that application clicks are 79% female. 47% of their audience is male, this demonstrates there is a wealth of female talent actively seeking high value jobs. 

Sssshhhh… Daddy’s working

Sadly still live in a time where, in many households, women are seen as the parent. That they should do the lions share of childcare and household chores. Even when the playing field of working hours and the impact of the pandemic is equal. I hear endless comments from working mums across the country saying things like “it’s so hard trying to get it all done – the home-schooling and working plus trying to keep them from interrupting daddy all day”. Why can’t daddy be interrupted?! 

Of course it is not my place to judge how households decide to cope during this totally dire time. But if it has just been assumed the responsibility of the kids falls to mum then, please, for the sake of women across the land have a conversation. Plot out what needs to be done – all the home-schooling, chores – everything – and decide who does what. If this impacts daddy’s work schedule then, just like mummy, he needs to find ways to accommodate. (I should say here I know this isn’t the case in all households. Many dads are brilliant at sharing the load. But many just haven’t realised it’s a shared responsibility, or see their job as not flexible… Did they ask?).

It is okay to let go you know.

Women also need to let go. We cannot control everything. I had a word with myself at the start of this home-school period. I couldn’t be the gate-keeper – being the only one that can log onto Google Classroom and hand in work. The only one that remembers to look for supermarket deliveries and figures out what to eat every day. I sat and gave my husband a Google Classroom lesson on day two as day one almost broke me.

I don’t check the work hubby now does with the kids. He and the kids enjoy him engaging with them and seeing their learning. I don’t walk around in a passive aggressive mumbling rage so much as last time. Winning all round! The kids don’t get their iPads if their beds aren’t made and the playroom isn’t tidy. Mums need to relinquish responsibility and trust someone else to do some of what they see as their load. If not we will never have time or headspace to find that career opportunity which is waiting there for us.

Scared to say the ‘F’ word

But back to this 79% of females applying to roles on Find Your Flex. The talent is clearly there. Ready, willing and able to be hired and contribute to organisations. To bring the female perspective and skill set that all organisations need. It is known the roles advertised on Find Your Flex are open and ready to be flexible. I fear this isn’t the case across other sites and those organisations not showing up on this site. I still have conversations with coaching clients about approaching an organisation and asking for flexibility – like it’s a dirty word. Applying through Find Your Flex removes anxiety for those who need to have “the chat” during the recruitment process. 

In my opinion, shifting the balance begins with organisations showing the men of the world Flex is for all. Showing men to see working flexibly or part-time isn’t a negative reflection on their masculinity. Allowing men to be available in their families. Allowing them to grow stronger bonds as equal caregivers to their children. To make room for females to work equally – to not have working gender equality set back 50 years plus.

The job market is tough, but jobs are there and female talent most definitely is. The crisis could be an opportunity. An opportunity for organisations to invest and build more empathetic and flexible workplaces. To retain and attract those most impacted by this pandemic. Nurturing a work environment where women have equal opportunity to develop their careers. And men have equal opportunity to be present in their families.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

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Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Protecting Your Mental Health During Your Job Search

Does job searching affect our mental health?

Losing your job and being out of work for a significant period of time is classed as both a psychological and financial trauma (Carl Van Horn, PhD, Rutgers university). A large body of research shows unemployment is linked to feelings of anxiety, depression and loss of life-satisfaction. Even when financial strain isn’t a by-product of being made redundant, losing your job can still be detrimental to mental health. Job searching can take it’s toll.

Work provides us with routine, structure, identity, purpose and social interaction. When that is taken away, the effects can be palpable. It is critical that, whilst job searching, you are conscious of protecting your mental health. For those still in employment, support those that are not. 

The all consuming job search

It is far too easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate. If you are not at your laptop, searching and applying for jobs, feeling that you are not doing enough. Feeling as though all hours of the day must be spent on your search.

The reality is this is likely to have a detrimental effect. Your anxiety levels will increase; on days when results are limited, you will feel lower or like the never-ending search is hopeless. The fact is, being tied to your job search every waking moment, won’t make more opportunities appear. Whether you log on for three hours or eight, the amount of jobs you find to apply to are likely to be the same. The only difference will be, is how exhausted and less motivated you will feel.

So what is the answer? How can you take care of yourself, when all you can think about is securing your next job?

A vital element is maintaining structure. Creating a sense of routine provides the stability you lack from not being in work. Get up at a decent time and go about your day with a sense of routine. Try blocking the first two hours to focus on job search and applications. Take a break for chores, have lunch, do a final hour of networking via Linked In, or other platforms. Then spend some time on a hobby or social interaction with a friend or family member (socially distanced of course!). 

Exercise is incredibly helpful. Even if you are not a gym bunny. Doing something physical, ideally first thing in the morning really does get the blood flowing. It also helps you to focus. It will also release endorphins that help fight feelings of depression and anxiety.

What can you control?

When you are searching for employment you may feel uncomfortable with the unknown – when will you find your next job? What will it be? Where will it be? How much will you earn? It is therefore best to focus on what you can control – not what you can’t. If you begin to feel stressed or anxious about a particular thing, consider “is this within my control?” if yes, what can you do about it? Otherwise, let it go and consider what is in your control that you can positively impact instead. 

Seeing constant headlines about more companies going bust and more redundancies being made can impact your mood and feelings about your own job search. Do not let these things affect your mind-set – do not give up. If you find yourself slipping into thinking “there’s no point, I will never find a job”, take a day off the search. Try and think of new ways you can positively impact your search. It is not just about applying to advertised jobs. Spend time networking, look for new connections on LinkedIn. Arrange some virtual coffees, attend on online networking event. Switch it up and bring new life to your search. 

Let people know how you feel

Speak to your partner, friends or family for support. Job searching can be a very lonely place so allow others in. Finding a job search partner can be really motivating. Check in with each other, set goals and help one another stick to them. Celebrate successes and pick each other up on more difficult days. If you are feeling low on a regular basis with very little lift in your mood, don’t be afraid to seek professional support.

Celebrate success!

Not everything about your job search will be negative! Find ways to reflect, recognise and celebrate successes – no matter how small. Keep a visible note of what has gone well. This is really helpful for motivating you when you have more challenging days. Start each day reading through your successes. Even if it’s simply that you made a new, useful connection on LinkedIn – it’s a win! Share the steps forward you are making with those closest to you. Finding a new job can take time, so see each day as being one step closer. 

There are positives of being able to take a little time out too. Use the time you have, outside of the few hours of job search activity each day

  • To reconnect with people you often don’t get time to speak to
  • Return to, or take up, a new hobby,
  • Read the books you never normally find time for,
  • Spend an afternoon pampering yourself.

Job search is one part of what you need to do now. However, the rest of this time is for you to make the best of your time out. Take the break you deserve and invest in your mental health. 

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Read more about dealing with job loss here:

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Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Work Journeys

Dealing With Job Loss

Job Loss Is Never Easy

Losing your job is crap. There I said it. Even if deep down you wanted out of a job you weren’t particularly happy in, it’s still rubbish. And if you loved your job and it’s suddenly taken from you – then that’s horrendous. Whether you kind of saw it coming or not, losing your job is still a shocking and unpleasant experience. 

Even though you know there will have been logic from the company’s side as to why they have had to make cuts, it still massively knocks your confidence. Losing your job can leave you questioning, “Could I have done anything to have been saved?” The panic then sets in “What on earth am I going to do next? I need an income! There’s so much competition out there, it’s going to take ages to find something new!”. You may even feel resentful and question why certain others haven’t had the same terrible news.

One Piece Of Advice About Job Loss

If I can give you one piece of advice, it is give yourself a small window of time to be bitter and angry. Then try to move to processing your emotions in a more healthy way. Staying in angry, bitter, panic mode will see you paralysed. Rooted to the spot, not doing anything very productive to move forward.

That said there is definitely a need for you to mourn your job loss. Give yourself that space to feel sad, anxious and scared about your future. Trying to totally suppress such feelings will likely result in them rearing their head during your job search. Acknowledge and validate them and then use to your advantage. Use those feelings to focus you – they are the exact reason you need to take positive action.

Moving On From Job Loss

Once anger and sadness have been processed, it’s time to think to the future. You may not have planned your job loss. But, this could be a perfect opportunity to consider what you really want from your next career move. Times are tough and certain industries or roles are harder hit. However, others are having to adapt to the coronavirus world. This means that jobs or organisations that may not have felt as accessible previously, may now be.

If you have received a redundancy payment, the pressure may be off a little so take some time to reflect. What would you really like to do next?

  • Is this a time to re-train into that career you always wanted?
  • Maybe now is a good time to launch that business you have been thinking about over the last few years?
  • Is there a course you can do to re-direct your focus. Better position yourself by gaining the skills you need to secure a job in a new industry.

Consider what matters to you. All those things that you weren’t loving about your old job no longer exist. This is a great chance to carve out more of what you do want to be doing.

If a career change feels too much right now. Or you don’t have the luxury of a comfortable redundancy package, there is still no reason you can’t focus on the future. You may take a job that is close to your previous role for now. But, if a change is the end goal, you can still plan. One that is achievable to reach that career transition in the longer term. 

Getting A New Job Is Impossible!

The job market isn’t easy right now. Many people are finding they are applying for jobs they are qualified for and not even hearing back. Applying is a critical part of your job search but it is not the only thing you can be doing. Use your network. Connect with people. Have virtual coffees, speak to new people. This is not just to ask for jobs, but to find out more about their job, company or industry. The more people you speak with the more visible you become.

Applications are simply documents on a computer. Find out who the recruiting manager is for a job. Connect with them and suggest a virtual coffee to find out more about a role before you apply. Become a real, 3D person. Be remembered in a way a bunch of words on a page can’t do.

Get visible on social media where your ideal employer hangs out. Engage in Facebook groups, Linked In, write articles, involve yourself in discussions. It may feel alien at first, but it definitely won’t hinder your quest for your next job.

Caucasian woman with two young children. She is at her laptop and on the phone

Job Hunting SHOULD NOT Be A Full Time Job

Searching for a new job, can feel like a full time job in itself. It is easy to feel like you need to be glued to your laptop in order to be in with a chance. 

If you only take one thing from this blog, take this – DO NOT MAKE JOB HUNTING A FULL TIME JOB. You will send yourself spiralling into a very low place if it is the only thing you focus on. Set yourself a routine. Similar to a work pattern.

  • Get up.
  • Schedule time for applications, sorting your CV, networking etc
  • Then shut down and do something positive.

A few hours a day is enough and then move onto anything else that makes you feel good.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Have a coffee with a friend.
  • Do those things around the house that never normally get done!
  • Do something you would simply never get time to do if you were working.
  • Make some memories, you may not get this time again. 

Your mental health is your most important asset, especially at times like these, so take good care of it. Look out for my next blog on exactly that subject later this month.

Rebecca Amin helps parents who feel stuck in their careers and find a path back to career happiness. Find Rebecca via her career coaching website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk, Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

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Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Meet Rebecca Amin

Rebecca Amin, Our New Flexible Working Warrior on MummyJobs.

One in three working mums suffer with unmanageable levels of anxiety and stress caused by managing a job and looking after children, according to a survey by Smart TMS – a mental health clinic.

This is a statistic I and, I am sure, many other mothers can relate to. Sadly this is often a silent struggle – many fearing if we voice our feelings we may be judged as a bad employee or bad mum. We thought we could have it all – the career and the family, is this how it is meant to feel? Should we just suck it up and get on with it?

I am Rebecca Amin, a Career Coach and I used to think that’s just how it would have to be. Thankfully, my mind-set has now changed, but it wasn’t easy.

Returning To Work After Maternity Leave.

In February 2016, I returned to work after my second maternity leave with all the thoughts so many of us have, “it’s my time to get back to my career, to being me again!” I returned, full of excitement, ready for phase two of my career – the post-children part. With some trepidation – I had returned from one maternity leave two years before and struggled. I had fallen pregnant quite soon after my return, so put my lack of passion for my work down to pregnancy and first time mum stuff – getting to grips with nursery, new routine etc. This time it was for real. Time to make my mark again, get back to the heady days of high performance, recognition, loving my career again…

BANG. It didn’t happen. At first I gave myself time to settle back in, gave myself allowances. However, each day felt harder and harder to find motivation for my work and all passion for what I did had gone. The fact was the environment and work I was doing had lost its shine. I didn’t care enough. I still did what was needed, because I had to, not because I got any enjoyment from my work.

This is not what I expected. I had always enjoyed my job. At first I felt confused – what was wrong with me? Was I suffering from delayed post-natal depression? Why was everyone else happy? Then guilt – why is this not enough for me? I should feel lucky to have a good job, healthy kids, a nice home… Next resent and anger. Why should I do this? Why can’t I do something that gives me some satisfaction?

Looking back, this looks like the stages of grief and I now believe, in some way, I was grieving my working life pre-children. 

My Career No Longer Suited Me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mum. I wanted to have a career, but I couldn’t carry on like this. As I worked through what was happening it became clear the career I was in was simply the wrong fit for me at this point in my life. I wanted to do something more worthwhile and meaningful to me. I needed to make a change – but what and how?

Despite the creeping sense of greyness blanketing my life, I needed my salary and an alternative job that I felt excited about, at the right level was hard to find. As a result, I wound up feeling completely stuck.

The Need To Make Positive Career Choices.

For a time, I told myself sticking with a job I was unhappy in, was what it meant to be grown-up. It was the realistic and responsible choice… But this approach was not sustainable if I wanted to protect my mental health and be happy at work, and therefore in life, again. I went round in circles and eventually bit the bullet and made changes. I took a four month sabbatical. During which I spent time reflecting on what would make me happy. I thought about what I really needed in my working life and career and trained as an accredited Career Coach.

I have since found these thoughts and feelings of course were not exclusive to me. It made me feel shocked and saddened to realise just how prevalent this unhappiness, anxiety and stress is, in working mums. This is why I dedicate my coaching to supporting mums in the same situation.

Of course not all stressed mums need a total career change. Some do, but some simply need tweaks – more flexibility. Not to be made to feel guilty for going to Sports Day, not smiling on the outside apparently holding it all together, but regularly hiding in the bathroom crying on the days it all feels too much.

Mental Health At Work.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost 15% of working adults experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time work are twice as likely to suffer than men (19.8% vs. 10.9%). People Management have reported more than a third who have flexible working experience an improvement in their mental health as a direct result. 

The Future Of Work.

I love supporting my clients to take control and figure out changes to get back to being happy in their careers again. What I would love even more would be if more felt flexibility at work was an option. Not something gifted to you once you have proved yourself after years of service. And I don’t mean the honour of being allowed to work from home on a Friday, but true flexibility that impacts on life for the better. Seeing so many leave jobs with flexibility at the crux of their struggles is outrageous. The talent lost. The confidence shattered of individuals feeling like they are failing. The belief they can’t continue professional careers if they have children and need flexibility. 

The optimist in me feels the tide may be turning. I for one truly hope we may be at a pivotal point for flexible working. 

If you enjoyed this post share across your social platforms. Also tune in next month to read more on children being career passion killers…

If you would like to find out more about my Career Coaching, please visit my website Rebecca Amin Coaching.

Or connect with me on my Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Rebecca Amin
Rebecca Amin

Categories
Flexible Careers Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Successfully Navigate Career Change

As we reach different points in our lives, our priorities change. As parents, many of us are looking for flexible work in order to achieve work/life balance and this may mean making a career change.

Most people find the idea of change unsettling and worrying, but if you do the groundwork you can face it with confidence.

 

A Guest Post from The Coaching Partners

STARTING POINT

Use Your Expertise

Over your career to date, you will have built up a whole host of skills, knowledge and expertise. A career change does not necessarily mean you need to start over. Use the expertise you have to take elements forward as you adapt, pivot and flex towards a new career path.

Find Something That You Love

Spend some time thinking about which elements of your past roles you enjoyed and were passionate about. We all have parts of our jobs we dislike or even dread. Which components raised your energy levels? Focus on these energy-boosting elements when making a career change.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Use your network to explore new opportunities. Cast a wide net to find people in the right circles. If you have taken time out of your career, perhaps to raise a family, you may have developed new social networks. Who have you met at your children’s nursery, school or activity classes? Are you part of any hobby/interest groups where you meet different people?

Think about how you can leverage your network. The more conversations you can have with people where you talk about your career change, the more ideas, leads and connections you will build up to help you.

PLANNING

Think about your long term career aspirations

Think about your long term career aspirations, not just short term goals. Taking some time out to really reflect on what you want to do with your career long term will lead to greater career fulfilment.

Future-Proofing

Future-proofing your career is simply taking steps to prepare yourself for a changing work environment. We are already seeing workplace changes in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic where enforced remote working and a greater reliance on technology is prevalent. Rather than waiting for changes to happen and being reactive, future-proofing involves a proactive approach where you ensure your skills and expertise are highly marketable in the job market.

Career Change Path

How will you make your career change? Having a plan can help you to navigate the change successfully. Will you resign from your existing role and dedicate yourself entirely to this career change or will you move towards your career change in conjunction with an existing role?

You could think about building a side hustle, which is a great way to test your new career path or business idea. Once you have developed and tested your side hustle, you could make this your main occupation.

BRIDGE THE GAPS

Demonstrate Your Transferable Skills

You need to be able to demonstrate transferable skills. Do you have a portfolio or blog to demonstrate your relevant work? Update your personal branding including your CV and LinkedIn profiles. Adapt these to your new chosen career path and highlight your transferable skills.

Close Gaps in Your Skillset

There may be gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. How can you take the next steps and get real experience in your new chosen career? Can you pick up freelance work? Could you volunteer?

 


You need to close the gaps in your skillset and prove that you have the capability to do the work you want to do. Can you take online classes or undertake relevant professional certifications?

Career change requires careful planning and consideration to be successful. It can be a welcome opportunity to gain new experiences, find flexible work and to achieve work-life balance.

The Coaching Partners offer a range of services that will help you successfully navigate a career change. If you’d like to learn more about them then see what they have to offer here – The Coaching Partners

Look out for some more fabulous blogs on career changes here on MummyJobs.co.uk

We also have some great stories on our sister site FindYourFlex.co.uk like this one from Leila Singh.

 

Categories
Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

The Great Baby And Career Balancing Act

How I Balanced A Baby And A Career

Guest Post By Lyndsey Shankland

As a businesswoman, my whole adult life was dedicated to my career in recruitment. I loved it! Balancing a baby and a career hadn’t been on the agenda. My true passion was my career, my reason for being, and everything else could wait.

But that all changed when I turned 38. Cupid’s arrow struck. Now generally speaking, I’m not someone to jump straight in, but this was it. By the age of 39 I was married. I became a new mother just three weeks after my 41st birthday.

Yep, I might be a slow starter when it comes to having a family of my own. However, when it’s right, it’s right!

I had real problems getting my head around the concept of taking six months off work. I mean, who was going to lead my projects, partner with my stakeholders, source new candidates and help keep those business wheels turning? How would I balance a baby and a career?

Even with years of experience working in American businesses globally and in regional roles, with responsibility for leading teams across EMEA, APAC and AMER I worried.  Would I be cast aside now I was a mother with other priorities was never far from my mind?

With so many women finding themselves ‘surplus to requirements’ and facing redundancy after returning from maternity leave, the days with my newborn were tainted with worry.

And sadly, my worries weren’t unfounded

The Return To Work… Or Not!

I enjoyed six blissful months of maternity leave with my little Oliver. Then on my first day back at work I was hit with a huge bombshell. My role was being relocated to the US. There was absolutely no way I could move.

Not only did I have my husband and son to think about, but my mum has young on-set vascular dementia and needs me more now than ever.

I went through a storm of emotions as I struggled to come to terms with the ‘loss’ of the job I loved. I’d always been the stronger partner in a financial sense. So worries about the mortgage, bills, other financial commitments, an unwell mother and a new baby caused a lot of anxiety.

How was I going to set myself apart from other job seekers in an already saturated market? For anyone who’s ever had an insight into the recruitment industry, you’ll know that recruiters are like gremlins – put a little water on us and we multiply!

How was I going to compete with these bright young things that didn’t have the commitments and family priorities I did?

Taking Back Control

So, I had two choices. Either put on my dressing gown and drown my sorrows in a family-sized tub of Ben and Jerry’s, or get proactive.

I took the latter option. I took control of the situation with the life-changing decision to start my own business.

After all, I had 18 years experience as an in-house head of talent acquisition. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of the recruitment world first hand. So why should I end up on the career scrap heap just because I had a child?

I considered my goals and formed my plan of action. I wanted to be a good recruiter of course, but I also wanted to be a good wife, daughter and mother.

Flexibility Is Key

For my plan to succeed, flexibility was central. Before I decided to start my own business, I was headhunted numerous times. I found however that employers were put off by my insistence on regular home office days and my need to balance a baby with a career.

So, I started out on my own with a business model of working with only a select number of clients in engineering and pharmaceutical markets, taking on just 2 or 3 at a time.

This allowed me to offer a higher quality, fully tailored recruitment service to both the global businesses I support and the talent I headhunt.

Clients And Cuddles

Fast forward to October this year. I’m working on four roles for two different clients. This doesn’t just ‘bring home the bacon’ as you’d say, it means I can fit in a cuddle with Oliver and hubby Iain. I can do so without feeling a crippling sense of guilt that I’m letting anyone down.

We have lunch together, and then I crack back on with the international calls. We’ve flown to a few places together already too: Dubai, Milan, Florence, Hamburg. We are due to visit the US in a couple of weeks. It’s living the dream of being able to keep the career I’ve worked hard to achieve AND feel like I can be a good wife and Mum too!

And it’s on MY terms

It’s still early days yet. Some days the struggle is real, trying to balance a baby and a career – but it’s on our terms as a family.

I’m still feeling really positive about the future.

I can’t say too much right now, but I’ll be taking on a new role towards the end of the year. This is with a business which values my skills. Skills that haven’t changed just because I’m a mother. They appreciate that I need some family time too. I’ve finally found a position that allows me to do the job I love and carry on with the most important roles of all – a mummy, a wife and a daughter.

Mum and baby birthday celebrations

My Advice To You

If you think you’re in the worst situation possible and about to lose your job, I’m living proof that you can regain control of your life. You can continue to follow your dreams without compromising on integrity or family commitments.

I still have to work very hard to keep all the plates spinning, but I’m enjoying it! My skills are still relevant and in demand even though I have a family. I am balancing a baby and a career!

And as a recruitment expert and mum, I should know!

Blog Post by Lyndsey Shankland

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Categories
High Profile Returners Mums Returning To Work Productivity & Flexibility Professional Mums Work Journeys

An HR Journey with Pitney Bowes!

This Mum Can…

I have multiple jobs in my life, (1) mummy to two crazy, beautiful, boisterous boys (2) wife and general domestic goddess 😉 (3) career HR professional looking to change the world! Life is busy, my mind is busy. Lack of time frustrates me, yet I am determined to make it all work. Determined to make a difference.

The Juggling Act

This is all made possible with trust and empowerment, complete workplace autonomy from thought to working arrangements and amazing childcare. Me and the hubby manage nursery pick up and drop off, we don’t have family who can look after the kids, therefore having understanding childcare provision is so important to me.

Getting The Experience

Rewind back to 2003, studying for a degree in HR & Business. Not wanting to be one of those people who ‘just had a degree’, I set out to gain real life experience. Having worked in River Island and New Look in the evenings and at the weekend, I connected with retailers. I asked them to take me on for FREE in their HR team.

I was incredibly grateful to the HR Director, and the team at Faith Footwear Limited. They fully integrated me and gave me fabulous insights, projects and learning opportunities. You’ll be pleased to know that they did pay me too ;-).

From there I went to TUI for a short stint, until they closed their Greater London House office. Then I went to Sodexho. I worked under a superb manager who gave me huge learning opportunities to really find my feet.

The Move To Pitney Bowes

Starting to get more settled at home I made the move to Pitney Bowes. This was closer to home too. Fast forward 11 years and I’m still here. I work with a collaborative, exciting and dynamic leadership team. I’m proud to work with them. They embrace my crazy, quirky ideas and I’m part of their team. None of this exciting stuff would be possible without their engagement, and the support of others in the HR team. I partner closely with my Talent Acquisition partners who have joined me on this journey.

“At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of building a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent. We’re a growing business, almost 100 years old, and we’re currently in the middle of an exciting transformation. Our people play a crucial part in this journey.”

What Do Pitney Bowes Offer?

I’m hugely excited and proud that in 2018 we launched a collection of Family Friendly roles. From a contingent workforce model, school hours, term time to job pairs. With every sales role that we have, we always consider each time – can we make this work differently? Every step of the way we are assessing the effectiveness of these roles, determining ways to engage the talent pool and tell them about our unique value proposition.

Along with our Family Friendly roles, we created our Charter, to help explain our commitment to this space:

“Family life is important. We get it. At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of balancing work and personal life. We offer fantastic career opportunities, flexibility, but most importantly, understanding.”

We welcome applications from those who want to be able to care of loved ones, older and younger, and those of the furry kind.  Not forgetting those who want to quit the 9-5 or those who just occasionally are able to connect with their work selves. So basically all those who want flexibility.

At the end of Q3 we will complete a formal review of these roles and the impact that they have had. We want to see the impact on our organisation, our teams and on the lives of those who we have been able to welcome in to the workplace. I’m passionate and I care. Therefore I cannot wait to see how this intervention transforms our employee experience.

Learn More About Pitney Bowes

If you’d like to learn more about who we are, our offering or simply network. Or maybe you want to understand how we can create the platform for more flexibility in the workplace get in touch! Drop me a line at: Angela.holland@pb.com

Categories
Gender Pay Gap Productivity & Flexibility Work Journeys

Would improving men’s rights help close the gender pay gap?

Written by Fiona Halkyard @ Chatter Communications

I don’t really think of myself as much of a feminist. I don’t get offended if a man holds a door open for me or calls me “love” (to be fair living in Yorkshire, it’s a pre-requisite and even men get called love, so score one for equality!). But I am a woman who’s pretty dedicated to her career. I’m a working mum. And, most importantly, I have three daughters who are (in my completely neutral opinion) amazing human beings who will go on to be brilliant adults. And for them, and their generation, I’d like to see true gender equality finally become a real thing.

And so there are certain “female” issues that really piss me off. And the current bee in my bonnet is the gender pay gap (which leaves British women earning an average of 17.4% less than men in similar full-time jobs and places us 15th out of 22 countries*). Or rather the gender bias that continues to dog our society and prevent women from achieving the same career success as their male counterparts.

My experiences

Through my twenties my career progressed quite successfully and initially, being female didn’t really factor. But once I moved into a management role I started to become aware of nuanced differences between the way I was treated compared to men of a similar age.

There was a “boys club” of up and coming ad execs who got invited to golf/beers/important client dinners with the MD and Chairman and suddenly progressed their careers far quicker than me and my female colleagues. The most memorable moment that made me stop and pay attention that perhaps I wasn’t being judged purely on my ability, was the conversation I had with the company Chairman when being considered for a promotion and he “joked” that he was only considering me because he “trusted” that I wasn’t just going to “run off and have babies anytime soon”. I was 27, engaged, and whilst not immediately planning a family, I knew it probably wasn’t too far off in my future. Yet I had to pretend that “no, no I’m a dedicated career woman, none of this baby nonsense for me” in order to pass his “test”.

I wonder if any man has ever felt that pressure? They certainly didn’t in that particular business where men could marry and become Dads without a single raised eyebrow from the powers that be. To be aware that even the potential of a marriage/baby that may not happen for a decade or more (or ever) could be a factor you have to answer to because you are “a woman of a certain age” is frustrating and archaic. And while most employers are far too savvy/legally compliant to ask the question that my old boss did, we all know that it is often consciously or unconsciously a factor when hiring or promoting a young woman.

And to some extent I get it. Women do often have babies in their late twenties, thirties, forties. And then want reduced/flexible hours. And that costs a business, especially a small one, a lot of money that perhaps doesn’t make up for the value of the employee in their child free years. But women do not choose to be born female. So why should they have to choose career or parenthood? Men don’t. Does that make men better at their jobs? Does it make them lesser parents? In my opinion the answer is no.

The here and now

The UK has made fabulous strides over the past 11 years, since I became a mum, to make it a little bit easier to juggle motherhood and working life. Maternity pay/leave have been extended and it’s become the norm to take a year or more off and still return to a well paid role. Flexible working policies have also become fairly common place, allowing women to balance the demands of work and parenting. Which is all brilliant. But still comes with restrictions. Breakfast meetings, after work networking, long days of travel, are all pretty hard to work around most childcare provisions. And whilst colleagues can be supportive, you can still feel that you’re more “difficult” to work with than a child-free colleague. And that affects confidence, your feelings of job security, it can put you off applying for a promotion or new role as you don’t want to upset the status quo.

And so women tread water while their kids are young and their male counterparts progress. And by the time you’re able to be “all in” at work, you’ve reached a glass ceiling and are reporting into men with 10 years less experience than you have. And so the gender pay gap persists.

So what’s the answer? What can we do? Even more benefits and support for women? Maybe. But to change the social stigma, how about we focus on men?

Again the UK has made some excellent progress in sharing the load of parental responsibility in the work place with paid paternity leave and shared parental leave and the opportunity for anyone to apply for flexible working. But it’s still not the norm. Paid paternity leave is still only funded by the government for 2 weeks. Our parenting leave is only the 11th most equal out of 21 countries* with shared parental leave a minefield to organise and flexible or part time working is still something that feels more aimed at women than men (men make up only 25.8% of the part-time workforce, leaving the UK 16th out of 21 countries measured *). Dads who take extended time off to be with their new baby tend to face social stigma, or at least a few raised eyebrows. And this means that on average, British men spend 24 minutes caring for children, for every hour done by women, according to the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index (FIFI).

People also presume that the woman will be the one to take a career break as the man is earning more (a comment even my own husband made, completely forgetting that when we started a family we were on equal salaries, as many couples are). And on the flip side, women whose partners take more time off than them are seen as “lesser” mums, putting their career before their kids. And because of all of this, men in their late twenties and early thirties are still not associated with the “pregnancy risk” that may entail a career break or reducing their hours at some point, even if married or with long term partners.

But if we could encourage more men to take up the opportunity to be at home with their kids, work flexibly and take on more of the parental juggle – without being judged for it. If we bring our kids up to see that both mum and dad can be their carer and have a career maybe things might finally be come more equal.

And if a parental career break (or indeed a mid-life career break for any purpose) becomes society’s standard for both men and women, then the glass ceiling might finally shatter. Maybe not for me and my peers (if we’re lucky we’ll be retired by then!). But if my daughters can dream, believe and achieve with no limits, then that would be a wonderful thing.

*stats taken from the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index 2016