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Career advice for mums: from career coach Lindsey Hood

I hope you’re loving this Expert Career Advice interview series as much as I am! Thank you for all of your amazing positive feedback!

Today we have Professional Coach Lindsey Hood from Lindsey Hood coaching sharing some fab tips. Enjoy!

Hi, I’m Lindsey and I am a qualified life and executive coach who specialises in working with amazing, talented women who are secretly struggling with imposter syndrome – those feelings that you are a ‘fraud’ in your career or life, that you will get ‘found out’ and the belief that you are not good enough to be in the position you are in.

I use a mixture of a psychometric tool called Everything DiSC and coaching to deepen self-awareness, so you can appreciate your own unique attributes, and then harness this to excel in the career you love.

Knowing what gives you energy means you can utilise your own uniqueness to be able to implement simple strategies to show up in all situations in a way that is authentic to your true self. You will find you will achieve even greater results in your career, and feel genuinely confident in your actions, decisions and communications.

I think the answer to this depends on where your lack of confidence has come from – for example, is it because you don’t feel up to date with the latest industry knowledge to be able to contribute, or is it because you feel like ‘the newbie’ as you have returned to your position, or do you feel like you are no longer capable of doing your role? Reflecting on what has changed for you will help you decide on the best strategies to move forward.

I would suggest focusing on your end goalwhat is it you want to ultimately achieve? I’m guessing it is to feel that your opinions count and that you can confidently share and express these in meetings. The gap is where you are currently (not feeling like your opinions count) and the bridge is the strategies you need to employ to get from where you are to where you want to be (whether that is getting up to speed on the latest industry news, some informal networking with colleagues to build relationships again or working to realise the value you are bringing to the table).

As an exercise, write down all your previous career successes and achievements. Now, write down the skills you have developed since having your baby – time management, empathy, organisational skills, coping on minimum sleep, prioritising tasks, working to tight deadlines (you only have so much time between naps to get a whole heap of other tasks completed, after all). Let it sink in how much you have contributed in your career to date, and how many transferable skills you are developing within your new role as a mother that can further enhance and benefit your career.

I feel so guilty every time I drop my son off at nursery when I go to work. How can I stop feeling like this?

I would suggest a reframe is required. I would guess your feelings of guilt are coming from not feeling like you are being a good mother to your son. However, nursery is a great way for your son to develop social skills, to interact with different children and adults, and for their learning abilities to be nurtured.

You are also being a role model to him – showing that you are both his loving, caring mother, and that you have a successful career that is important to you. You are providing for him both emotionally and financially.

My question to you would be – “What do you need to do to stop feeling guilty about dropping your son off at nursery?” I believe you have all the answers within you already.

I think it is possibly about balance and setting the right boundaries. If you find yourself working late every evening meaning you are late to pick up your son, this will intensify your feelings of guilt. If you can negotiate to only work your hours, or agree to leave at a set time each day, and, if required, then log back on when your son goes to bed in the evening, for example, this can also help you feel like you have ‘segmented’ your various roles and are devoting the right amount of energy to both your duties as a mother and worker, at the appropriate times during your day.

I’ve just set up my own Virtual Assistant business, and I’ve signed up to attend a couple of local networking events. But I’m so nervous about talking to new people. Do you have any tips for how I can feel confident and introduce myself at these types of events?

Firstly, my suggestion is to go to these events with the goal to build relationships with a few new contacts. Take the pressure off of needing to ‘get a sale’ and go with the view that you want to learn more about the people at the event and how you might be able to help them (which might be offering your services, but might be some sort of collaboration, or putting them in touch with someone within your network).

Secondly, I would suggest spending some time beforehand on perfecting a short ‘pitch’ that explains what you do in a fun, concise way. People will want to know about what you do so think about the benefits you might be bringing to the people you are meeting (and by extension, their networks). Maybe you are giving sole traders a 25th hour in the day or maybe you love doing the admin that so many small businesses hate. Whatever it is, say it out loud to yourself until it sounds natural and just flows off your tongue.

Thirdly, before going into the event, strike a ‘power pose’! Go to a toilet cubicle, stand with your legs hip width apart, hands on hips, spine straight, head held high, chin slightly lifted. Take some deep breaths and then raise your arms above your head in a victory V shape. Smile! Stay like this for 30-60 seconds. Feel your energy shift. Based on Amy Cuddy’s research, this does work to increase your confidence.

And my final words of advice – be yourself. You are the only you there and you are amazing!

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Thanks so much Lindsey for taking part in our Expert Career Advice series for mums.

Find out more about Lindsey and how she can help you here:

Her website

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If any of you lovely mamas would like to receive over a week’s worth of free resources to help you build confidence and overcome feelings of being an imposter you can sign up via Lindsey’s website here