I’m really happy to share with you the latest interview in our Expert Career Advice interview series. It’s with Emma Jones of Work Buddy London. She answers some really important questions for mums – so enjoy!
Firstly please tell our lovely mamas about your coaching/ consulting practice?
Work Buddy London offers affordable and flexible CV and career support to women and mums returning to work or changing direction.
We offer CV and coaching packages that help you regain confidence in your skills, clarify your career goals, plan your job search and feel positive about presenting yourself for new opportunities.
I have a background in HR and change management and qualified last year as a coach after working in a variety of flexible ways after having babies and taking a career break.
I returned to HR to live the ‘returner’ journey then built a vision of doing something I love on my terms which is helping Mums rediscover their mojo and next steps in working life; in a safe, friendly and accountable environment turning those thoughts into actions and finding work that works for you!
After taking a career break to have children, I now want to return to work. Ideally it would be a role that is flexible so that I work only when my children are in school.
However, after being out of work for 4 years, my confidence is super low. Can you help?
It’s easy to feel divorced from the workplace after a break and entirely natural as our skills and focus have been directed at nurturing a little human! Don’t underestimate what a major achievement and life-changing event this has been and feel proud of your career break, taking one is rarely a straightforward or easy decision.
Here are some ideas of how you can boost your confidence to get started with your job search:
• Get clear on what it is you want, not what you think an employer will offer you. Acknowledge the break but focus on your skills (past and present) and work on what your strategy is for your working pattern.
• Undertake a skills and strengths audit based on both your past and present circumstances – you will have gained some major skills from being a parent! There are also free tools available such as the DISC personality test and the 16Personalities test to determine your working style.
• Share this with a trusted friend and talk through their perception of your skills and strengths (you’ll be surprised at what you’ve missed!)
• Dust off that CV (or even old job specs) which can remind you of all the awesome things you did before ‘the most important job’ came along. Reflect on those times to bring that experience back to life.
• Network to feel closer to the working world; via friends and family building up to something more formal. Motivation (and confidence) follows action and you will gain momentum! LinkedIn is a great place to start researching your chosen industry and related events so ensure you have an up to date profile.
• Trust in the process. As you start researching jobs, refining your applications and getting noticed your confidence will return preparing you to return. Give yourself the space and time your job search strategy deserves.
I’m a 41-year-old mum with 14 years experience as a teacher. 2 years ago I left my school and set up as a private tutor.
However, I’m now at the point where I have to decide whether to go for it as a self-employed tutor or return to teaching. I love the flexibility of working on my own, but also find it lonely.
Do you have any advice on what I should do?
This will depend somewhat on the reason(s) for returning to employment and your desire to remain self-employed. When faced with these difficult decisions it’s important to remember your values and how they align (or don’t) with different types of work and environments.
There are a few questions you might like to reflect on to help you make a decision:
• What are the key drivers for this decision and are they within your control?
• What were the reasons for leaving and do those issues still exist?
• What would it feel like to return to employment after working for yourself?
• What benefits exist for both options and how do these impact on your future priorities?
• What are the other options other than the two mentioned above?
• What would you do if you knew the answer? This can be illuminating!
Practical solutions to the feelings of isolation could be to consider co-working with other tutors for preparation and admin work. If a community or network doesn’t already exist you could set up your own hub (and potentially use it to gain additional income).
Is there the potential to work freelance for a tutoring company or franchise that offers team working, support and more stability?
Are you in a position to undertake both freelance tutoring alongside a part-time teaching role or use your current skill set in a different way e.g. training and development or coaching? In most cases it’s important to trust your instinct!
I’m nearing the end of my maternity leave after having my second child, and I really don’t want to go back to work. I’ve come up with a business idea that I think could work, however, I’m struggling with imposter syndrome, and wondering if I really have what it takes to start a business. Do you have any tips for me?
This is a difficult area for many people because even if you are skilled and experienced at what you are selling, by virtue of being a start-up you may lack business experience.
There’s lots of advice out there – start by checking out what your local authority has to offer for entrepreneurs and find yourself a mentor.
Networking is a great way of sound boarding your ideas and you’ll find people who have felt like you do and gone on to feel confident and successful.
Trust your instinct; if you genuinely have the skills, you’re focussed, the idea is a good one and there is a demand for your product or service there is no reason it shouldn’t work.
Make a list of all your accomplishments and experience and be clear why you are starting the business to banish these feelings of fraudulence.
Try not to compare – social media has heightened our awareness of others intentions and achievements so it’s easy to let that distract us so always go back to your why.
Remember, we all feel like this from time to time and it is very common for those starting out to feel ‘consciously incompetent’ and you will develop as your business does.
Sort your facts from feelings and keep your business plan evidenced based. Talking to your potential market is a great way of understanding what they find credible but do brush up in areas you feel uncertain about.
Each time the inner critic pops up ask it for some evidence and until it provides it, don’t second guess yourself and crack on with the work!
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Thanks so much Emma for taking part in our Expert Career Advice series for mums.
Find out more about Emma and how she can help you here:
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