Are you thinking about taking the big leap and changing careers? Or perhaps you’d like to take a career break? Good on you!
However, while these changes could be exactly what you need, they can also be a little bit daunting, and let’s be honest, those changes may be a bit too good and make you want to retire completely.
No need to panic, though, as we’ve asked for the help of one of our brave warriors, Janice Scholl, to help guide you through these new and exciting changes!
Janice, a former commercial banker, consultant, and mentor to entrepreneurs, kindly agreed to share a few tips on how to make the transition and what to think about if you decide to take a career break.
Got you hooked? Great! Read on, as Janice has more than one trick up her sleeve ;) And no, she didn’t take the time to learn magic, she became an expert when it comes to career changes and career transitions!
Who is Janice Scholl?
Janice is a mother of two who lives with her husband and children in Tennessee. She has spent her entire career talking about money and business, helping her clients build solid companies, draft solid financial strategies, and ultimately propelling their businesses to success.
What’s more, this supermom currently hosts the money career and motherhood podcast. You can check it out here, and believe me ladies, her advice is golden! While Janice admits Commercial Banker is not exactly a dream career when you’re a kid, she has learned so much that she can now successfully leverage her financial and business knowledge to help women with money and the career transitions that often come with motherhood.
The Ins and Outs of Taking a Career Break
Women scared of taking a career break? Janice has seen it many times! The main reasons usually revolve around being able to afford to live while not receiving a paycheck, fear of skills becoming outdated or having to accept a career back step. Of course, there are other reasons, but these seem to explain why a lot of the time, women carry on being superheroes, juggling motherhood, and having a career.
However, in 2020 a new reality hit most households in the US! Indeed, COVID-19 spread across the world, forcing many of us into lockdown and leading to a shift to home working. And juggling homeschooling, household chores, and work soon turned out to be a nightmare for a lot of parents. Am I right? I mean, yes, kids are adorable, and it’s great to see them more, but honestly, with homeschooling, it’s also kinda like ‘’hello meltdown Monday’’! And this doesn’t only apply to women but to men as well as they’re trying to support their family too.
As a result, women who might never have considered taking a break before are now strongly considering it. Yet, career breaks are not new news. Indeed, women tend to take more career breaks or take back steps to adapt to their personal situation at a certain time in their life, leading to a more non-linear career path compared to men. And while the COVID pandemic might have made career breaks more topical, they’ve always been a fact of life for women. Note that the following advice applies to men or women who want to take a break at any time of their career, not just during COVID.
Key Elements to Consider before Taking a Career Break
For many, the only reason that makes it acceptable to take a career break is maternity leave, but there are many other reasons to take a break. Caring for parents or relatives can be a reason, accidental career break due to being let go is another one, etc. Keep in mind that certain types of career breaks can have a negative impact. Indeed, family-led career breaks are usually financially more punitive than other types of breaks for women. However, there are ways to mitigate this, as a career break can also be an opportunity. And guess what? Janice’s job is to make sure that during a break, her clients are acting in a way that is going to lead them to the success they want later on and put them in a position to plan long-term. The idea is to not just think, ‘’I want to get a job tomorrow, so what should I do today’’ but rather to plan on the long-term.
While taking a career break is not for everyone and sometimes simply asking your employers whether they could be more flexible might be the solution, some of the key things you need to look at if you’re seriously considering it include:
Checking your Financials:
This step is particularly important. It includes looking at your expenses and planning how long you can afford or want to take a career break for. Indeed, you’ll need to ensure you’re going to be comfortable enough, even though you’ll definitely feel the loss of a paycheck. Besides, keep in mind that the longer the career break, the rustier you’ll feel. Indeed, you might feel like you’re not up to date with technology, and lose confidence in your ability to get a new job. As a result, you may not be able to get a job as quickly as you expect when you’re ready to get back.
Understanding the financial impact of the career break and having a safety net is, therefore, paramount before making the decision.
You also need to be aware that when you’re taking a career break, you’re taking a new identity. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Well, sometimes it can be so cool that people don’t want to go back to their old identity! It then becomes a case of sussing out paycheck vs. purpose.
Defining the purpose of your break is another important aspect of career breaks. Key questions you need to ask yourself include:
- What will you be doing during the break?
- Do you want to go back to your old path after the break?
- Do you want to use the break to carve out a new path for yourself?
Let’s be honest; it’s pretty rare that in our life, we have the opportunity to explore new things and decide whether we want to make a change. What employers want to see when you’re ready to get back to the workforce is that your ambition didn’t die, you remained active and engaged. It doesn’t have to be in the same career path, but they want to see that you used the extra time to explore things and grow professionally even when on a break. They want to know you’ve been active and used the time to grow and redevelop yourself and haven’t simply been twiddling your thumbs this whole time, watching all the latest series on Netflix!
Think about your Relationship:
A career break can also heavily impact your relationship. Indeed, it often leads to a dynamic change because someone is not earning income. Most of the time, this makes the person who is taking the break (may it be the man or woman) uncomfortable. As a result, they feel uncomfortable spending any money on self-care, which can complicate the relationship, creating tension and frustration. So, this conversation needs to be had, and you both need to clarify what the break means and how your significant other feels about the break. If you communicate and have a plan, you’ll feel more comfortable about it. You’ll remain a unit and work as a team.
You also need to talk about risks. Suss out all the different risks and have a plan in case things don’t work out the way you had planned. Having more backup plans than James Bond is imperative.
Remember, humans are biased. They want the best to happen and think the best is going to happen. But if we think about what might go wrong, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if things turn out well rather than utterly disappointed if they don’t, as you put all your hopes in this and haven’t defined a backup plan.
How to Prepare for The Big Return
During the break, there are a few things you need to do to make your return easier:
Maintain your Network:
You might celebrate the last day of work, thinking you won’t have to mingle and network anymore, and you’re most certainly never going back! In fact, you’d like to burn your work clothes and forget it ever happened. Well, think again! Even though you’re not planning on returning to your old job or company, keeping contact with people who can help you get a job in the future and make new connections when you’re on a break is important.
Everyone is looking for connections (even if it’s remotely via Zoom), and the break might just give you the opportunity to do so as you have more time! Your network might very well be how you’re going to get your next job. After all, connecting with people and discussing your projects, skills, and goals is much easier than sending hundreds of resumes praying for one of them to be picked up by companies’ recruitment algorithms! And the network of people you contact to discuss your career path can range from the next-door neighbor to a senior employee at your favorite company on LinkedIn.
The more people you talk to when exploring your next phase, making yourself top of mind, the better!
Know about Your Industry:
Another important thing to remember is to stay engaged with your industry or to start learning about the new industry you’re interested in. Once you get in touch with people in the industry of interest, you want to show that you are interested, knowledgeable and that you’ve been making the effort to understand the company and the industry. Understanding the company, you’re applying for or the industry you want to work in is also a great way to help you spin your story. It will also allow you to personalize your skills and knowledge and show your prospective employer how you can be an asset for them specifically.
Like what you read and need help navigating the money and career transitions that come with motherhood? If that’s the case, feel free to get in touch with Janice here. You’ll be able to book a free thirty-minute session with her to discuss career changes and how she can help you reach your goals. Wishing you all the best in this new adventure, ladies...and gentlemen!