Most of us take a career break – short or long – when we have kids. But when you’re ready to return to work it can feel like your old life doesn’t quite fit anymore. Becoming a parent changes everything. It’s the perfect opportunity change direction and carve out a meaningful career that suits your new life.
So let’s make it happen! Thanks to our friends at the Australian Institute of Applied Sciences, here are 10 clever tips for making a career change.
1. Explore your passions
Congratulations, you’re a grown up, and (probably) a parent. Yay! Along the way I’m sure you’ve learnt a lot about yourself. What makes you happy, what drives you, what your values are, how you want to balance your family life and what you’re passionate about. Take some time to brainstorm a list of fulfilling careers that combine the strengths you have built up over the years, with the interests you’ve cultivated.
Perhaps you know exactly what you were always meant to do, but thought you’d missed your chance. Well now is your time!
Career change guides such as the classic What Colour is Your Parachute can help you through this process in more detail.
2. Research and plan
Once you’ve decided where you want to go and who you want to be, set out a strategy and timeline for how you’re going to get there. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen (with planning).
Research what qualifications you will need, how long it will take to complete them and set a ‘dream job’ goal so you have something to work towards and motivate yourself.
3. Study smart
Thanks to flexible study options and the magic of the internet, getting qualifications in a new field has never been easier. Colleges such as the Australian Institute of Applied Sciences offer a range of on-campus and online courses in beauty therapy, natural therapy, hairdressing, massage therapy, health and fitness that can be studied full or part-time. So you can fit your studies in around your kids or your existing job.
If you prefer to study on-campus, you’ll also get to work in a real live clinic environment so you’ll be job-ready when you graduate.
You might even qualify for VET FEE-HELP meaning you won’t have to pay for your course until you’re in a job and earning. Perfect!
4. Take baby steps
Making a career change is often easier if you take a sideways step first. Let’s say you’re a bookkeeper who wants to become a naturopath. While you are studying, look for a bookkeeping job in a natural health clinic, so you can learn the industry and make contacts.
If you have a dream employer in mind, use your transferrable skills to get a job there in your current field, then train up, scout for opportunities, and eventually move in to the job you want.
5. Use your new networks
One of the bonuses about becoming a parent is that fantastic new networks suddenly open up to you.
Mention your career change to your mother’s group, at kinder playdates and during the school pick-up. Before you know it, little Sarah’s mum from kinder will be connecting you up with her babysitter’s Aunt, who just happens to work in exactly the same field as you’re aiming for.
Set up as many coffee dates as you can with potential contacts, to gain valuable industry information and future job leads. Don’t be shy: people love to talk about themselves and usually feel flattered when you want to pick their brain!
If you’re in Brisbane or Melbourne, AIAS also regularly holds topical information sessions that are a good opportunity to network.
6. Get your family on board
Making a career change takes time and lots of family support. Make sure your partner shares your vision and you’re both clear about any financial sacrifices you might have to make, and how much time it will take to get qualified and find a new job.
Plus, you’ll need them as your personal cheer squad to keep you motivated and positive. Go team!
7. Create your personal brand
Even if you’re still studying or transitioning, start building your personal brand online now. That means updating your LinkedIn profile with your new career goals, re-writing your job history to focus on relevant transferrable skills, and joining industry groups.
Interested in becoming a nail technician? Start a blog about nail art trends. Want to become a nutritional therapist? Create a Twitter account and start engaging with prominent health practitioners and brands through social media.
Volunteer positions and internships can be a brilliant way to gain valuable industry experience.
Not-for-profit groups need people power and enthusiastic volunteers to lead key projects that will look great on your resume. You could start close to home with your local school, kinder or council. Or contact larger organisations to see if you can assist them. If there’s nothing relevant on offer, pitch your own project!
Of course, not everyone has the spare time to take on unpaid work, especially if you have small kids to look after. But if you can squeeze it in, volunteering is a great way to gain something while giving back.
9. Build your CV
Start re-writing your CV early on. By doing this, you’ll start to see the gaps a potential new employer might see and be able to look for ways to fill them. Make sure you show it to all those valuable industry contacts you’re making, so they can give you feedback and help you focus on gaining the skills and experience that matter most in their field.
10. Be your own boss
Starting a business takes serious commitment and hard work. But if you want to be in control of your own destiny, becoming self-employed might be just the ticket. There are many careers – such as massage therapy, personal training or natural medicine – that will allow you to set yourself up in private practice and dictate your own hours.
Look for courses that offer training in business management as part of your qualification, or take a small business course to help you start out on the right track.
If you’re looking for a new career in the health, well-being or lifestyle industries, the Australian Institute of Applied Sciences has a course that will suit you. With state-of-the-art facilities and quality teaching, AIAS offers a range of flexible ways to study including on-campus and online study options, plus access to government funding assistance. Find out more at aias.edu.au