Get Ready for Your Second Career Innings

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.10.43 amMost women who have stayed home for a considerable length of time, whether to raise their children or nurse the elderly, face a variety of mental and emotional obstacles when it comes to returning to work. They question whether they will be able to add adequate value to the world by being out there as much, as they will at home. They are insecure because they have been off the work wagon for so long – they wonder if their skills are antiquated and whether they will be relevant in the present job market.

Generally speaking, these ‘obstacles’ are nothing more than perceived issues and emotional unpreparedness to meet the outside world after such a long stint indoors. At such a juncture, the best anecdote for women’s anxiety is SmartQ’s myth-busters – facts that tell them why there’s simply no need to fear the worst and boldly take a step out into the professional world.

We hope that this article prompts and inspires women, who have been on the fence about resuming work, to finally take the plunge.

1.       Eliminate Your Anxieties

In truth, nothing has fundamentally changed since you have stopped working, unless it has been decades since your last job. The skill-sets and competencies required for most fields of work largely remain the same, and simply need to be brushed up to speed.

Several psychometric tests available today help job seekers determine their present capabilities and emotional quotients so they can fit into the right careers and organisations. Portals like Monster India offer affordable online tests that can enable you as a job seeker to identify your personality, suited careers and areas of improvement. As per the industry/position of your choice, you can also choose from placement services/tests provided by DDI, eLitmus, IPAT, AMCAT, NASSCOM NAC-TECH and Job Mentor that assess learning styles, mental agility and other competencies. Formal assessments are all the rage today and a starting point for aspirants looking to re-enter the corporate world.

If you are anxious about new software applications or trends that have emerged in your field, acquaint yourself with them. Ask old colleagues the specifics of what’s new; measure and update/improve your skill sets in your down time. Basically, try not to sever all ties with your professional life during your sabbatical; recognise and truly appreciate the joys of having a career.

2.       Be an Active Job-seeker

Don’t hesitate to network and seek out opportunities wherever you can. Let your family and friends know what kind of opportunities you are looking for. Goad them to fix meetings and interviews for you. Get on the internet and make your presence in all the job sites out there. Create an interesting and impressive profile for yourself on these sites; enough to prompt interview calls. Start making social media networks, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, an integral part of your life. Get active on the sites’ relevant communities and forums – get noticed. These are the new-age job sites.

If you are looking to pursue a franchising or semi-entrepreneurial role, look for your audience/markets online, and advertise your wares; or look up at how you can get better/become a more desirable candidate in the area of your choice.

3.       Be Presentable

Invest in a good resume. Do not allow your curriculum vitae to ramble on and keep length to a minimum at 1 ½ pages. A brief resume intrigues the reader and offers just enough to prompt a face-to-face meeting/ interview. If necessary, bring on board a professional resume writer. Several HR companies as well as job sites offer these services.

At the interview, don’t cover up details regarding your leave/ sabbatical. Elaborate on how you plan to manage your new professional role in light of the responsibilities that had once demanded your attention at home. Will those concerns affect your work life now – how will you manage them? Explain the break and what it has helped you achieve personally, and that will be seen in good light and bring credibility to your case. Over all, explain why it is important for you to return to your career.

“I’ve seen very, very bright women. I use the example of Katherine Graham, who was outstanding. While she was CEO of the Washington Post the stock went up 40 for 1, she won a Pulitzer Prize, but she had been told by her mother, she’d been told by her husband, she’d been told by lots of people that women weren’t as good as men in business. It was nonsense. I kept telling her, “Quit looking in that fun house mirror. You know, here’s a real mirror. You’re something.” And as smart as she was, as high grade as she was, you know, as famous as she became, right to her dying day she had that little voice inside her that kept repeating what her mother told her a long time ago. 

Everybody should get a chance to live up to their potential. Women should not hold themselves back and nobody should hold them back. And that’s my message.”

Excerpts from an interview with Warren Buffet

Full text may be found at www.LevoLeague.com

4. Be Flexible

Do not make your last job profile and pay levels a benchmark for your prospective job. By maintaining a flexible benchmark, you will be free from the constraints of numbers and titles. You can then rather focus on the gratification the new work profile will bring you. You may have had a respectable job in IT before, but may prefer baking now. Your skills have changed and so have your priorities, and there is absolutely no shame in such a shift. Introspect your present strengths, skills and options. Try to be open to all kinds of recruitment calls and all salary levels, because there may be something exciting out there that fits your present situation better than what you had in mind.

5.       Acknowledge Your Potential

In her new book, ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead,’ Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg describes how women unintentionally hold themselves back when it comes to career, and how they need to make conscious efforts to ‘sit at the table.’ They must take up challenging opportunities, even though they may find it scary, and chase their professional dreams. Working women who leave jobs inadvertently create a quota for men in the workforce. In her book, Sandberg quoted legendary investor Warren Buffett, who stated that, one of the reasons for his great success was that he was only competing with half of the population.

India’s growth story has enabled the mushrooming of areas we never thought possible – niche services have growing markets – and that is highly conducive for entrepreneurial ventures as well. Today, we are blessed with more opportunities to make a livelihood, as well as more options to get there. Even a typical housewife can consider starting a tiffin or canteen service for offices, and will find definite success. We live in an age where there is infinite demand for talent regardless of gender – and we owe it to ourselves to achieve our full potential – and that is adequate motivation for every housewife to get off the fence.