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Getting back to work after a career break for any reason can be difficult, but not impossible. Here are the things you should be mindful of.
You have been there and done that. You’ve had a decent education, a few good years of working in your pre-marriage days and may be post-marriage too. But you have taken a break then – either due to children, your husband’s work related travel, or such.
It has been a few years since, and you are now in your late 30s or early 40s. The children have grown up and you are finally settled in one place. The kids don’t need close attention from you. You start thinking about those days when you had a great time working, feeling powerful because of the financial independence, all those appreciations and accomplishments at work and the learning you used to have. You start getting restless and itchy.
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But you are also realistic enough to know that all these may not be possible now. You may not want to travel long distances or work long hours like you used to. You may not be able to be like that Superwoman neighbour, who seems to effortlessly juggle work, home and kids with the aid of a team of cook, maid, nanny, driver and tutors.
All you know is that you have an urge to do something – but don’t know what to do. I personally went through the same motions and I am sharing my two cents on it.
The first most important step is – take some time and think, as to, why do you want to work again? Is it because you want to support or contribute to your family financially or you would like to engage yourself in some satisfying work? Do you want to go back to your IT/corporate work or would you like to try some other career line?
If you want to go back to where you left in your career, then it’s fairly straightforward. Brush up on your experience, read the current trends and reach out to your ex-colleagues. Read about the current pay trends. Update your resume and try all the job sites. Nowadays there are some specific sites and groups which are focused on women getting back to work. You should be able to land at a similar position at the same pay scale if not at 80% of it.
If you are willing to explore other options – now would be a great time! There are so many career options available with the boom of start-ups. These small companies may not be able to afford the big guys, but will be willing to take an experienced person like you at a slightly lesser cost.
If you are one of the few lucky ones who are not under any kind of financial pressure, my suggestion then is to explore that creative side of yours. Whatever your passion is – whether it is writing, arts, cooking or teaching – give it a go.
You can take cooking, baking or art classes from the luxury of your home. You can join your neighbourhood school in a teaching or administrative capacity. You can join a playschool close by if you enjoy working with toddlers or start your own crèche or daycare at home, if possible.
As for online work options, if you want to work from home, there is plenty – you can take up medical transcription or online tutoring. If language is your strength, then you can try your hand in areas like content writing, proofreading, translation services, subtitling, etc. Start your own blog and express your passions. You may well be on your way to monetizing it soon through affiliate marketing.
If you have creative skills, you can try your hand at jewellery making with paper beads, terracotta or silk threads. You can sell these through various online marketplaces or hold exhibitions in your apartment complex. Join with a few like-minded friends and start a boutique or tailoring outfit. Start your FB page and advertise your ware.
If money is not a concern, try volunteering. Join a government school near your home and mentor the children there. Spend time at an old age home or an orphanage. Offer your services to an NGO. The satisfaction you get out of these will be priceless!
Once you have identified what you would like to do – take time and prepare. Whether it is brushing up on your skill sets or joining new courses, do your homework. Practice. Hone your skills. Understand the numbers and legalities, if you plan to do something of your own. Seek and learn from the experts. Do not feel shy to ask for help. Go and attend the various meetups organised around your city. Be thirsty and eager to learn more.
Working straight after college and getting back to work after a few years’ break are never the same. It is going to take more effort on your part to focus and concentrate. If you plan to work from home, you need to be more disciplined in terms of time and work management.
Recruit your family for more support. Hire help whenever necessary and possible. There is going to be a lot of teething troubles, so be prepared to expect, accept and embrace them. Anticipate the probable things that can go wrong and try to have contingency plans in place. Be realistic, that, in spite of all these, things will go wrong and out of control – like a child falling sick or some strike. Try not to panic and remain calm. You will be able to think clearer and decide faster with a calm mind.
Give yourself time. Keep working and learning. In all this, do not forget to get physically and mentally fit, as these efforts will demand a lot of energy of all forms. Take up yoga and meditation to control and strengthen your mind and body.
If you are planning to work from home, create a small home office corner. Do not plan to work out of the dining table or sofa with kids running around. Treat yourself seriously else others won’t. Don’t wait for things to happen. Plan and prepare proactively, otherwise, you may be caught unprepared when the much-awaited opportunity finally arrives. Learn to take the initial failures on your stride and learn from them. Stay strong and persevere.
“It is never too late to be, what you might have been.”– George Eliot.
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