Your career after … Tips for making a change after a life event

If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that a lot of us are looking for a change in order to find our purpose in our lives and/or careers.
My program, “Your Career After…”, is about what you do with your career after a life event. For me, that life event was cancer; someone else’s could be a job loss, a relationship breakup or a pandemic, for instance.
Life events have a way of turning your world upside-down but they can also be a catalyst for the change you need.
If you or one of your clients are going through a “Your Career After…” moment, here are some helpful tips.
Start with the foundation
This is the perfect time to reassess your why when it comes to your career. When your world is shifted, so are your priorities. It is time to figure out if your current career path is still aligned with your career goals.
When working with my clients on their career foundation, I have them do reflections on areas such as their values, their interests and their skills. The “Core Values Exercise” is an example of what reflection could look like. Another great resource I use for career reflections is The Everything Career Tests Book by A. Bronwyn Llewellyn with Robin Holt, M.A.
Any time you can take an inventory of what you have to offer helps set you up for success.
“When your world is shifted, so are your priorities. It is time to figure out if your current career path is still aligned with your career goals.”
When you are clear on your priorities, understand what is important to you and are armed with the knowledge of what you can offer an organization, you are in the best place to figure out next steps. I have every client do this work before anything else in their career journey, as this is what informs your career toolkit and helps you build your career stories.
You don’t need to make a big leap in order to make a change
Sometimes people think this work requires a substantial change such as changing your industry, company or role. That isn’t true.
Once you have done your foundational work and have figured out what you want for your career, this can help you decide what is next. Sometimes that is a significant career shift.

Read more on CareerWise from Jennifer McCloskey: Your career after cancer: How HR, leaders and peers can help

But a lot of the time it might be a simple “tweak” to an existing career. Ask yourself some questions such as:

Are you able to work from home or get flex time? Are you able to have a stretch assignment? (A stretch assignment is a task or project that “stretches” your skillset in a development opportunity that replaces or is added to your current role, such as a cross-functional project or covering for a leadership role during a vacation.)
Can you realign your existing duties?
Are there opportunities within the company that are of interest, in a new role, project or volunteer group?
Have you talked to your leader about your career development goals?

There are so many different ways you can grow or develop within a current role or company that doesn’t require a massive change.
Networking should always be a significant part of your career journey. The traditional methods such as LinkedIn or reaching out to friends, family and colleagues still apply in this situation.
One big area I emphasize with my clients is building a community network.
Being a part of your community as a volunteer is not only a great way to give back but also an excellent way to gain experience and meet people for your network. Sharing your career story with people who can help you with next steps is a powerful tool.
Think outside the box
Sometimes your career pivot isn’t that your actual job needs to change. There might be lots of things you enjoy about your role – regular paycheque, benefits, vacation, etc. Your current career can be “good enough.”
What you might discover via your foundational work is that what makes your soul sing might be found within volunteer work or a hobby or however you spend your time when you aren’t at work.
You don’t always have to change your entire career. Maybe you shift your perspective. You keep your current gig and find ways outside your role to fulfill that purpose.
It takes work
Working with my clients on their “Your Career After…” definitely requires teamwork. I call it my magic mix: “Being trained in something. Being coached to it. Applying the learning into your real-life.”
My clients need to invest the time into the practical application I create for them to extend the learning past our conversation or workshop.
For every topic I coach my clients on and every session of my workshops there is a “real-life practical application” element. For example, when we talk about foundation, we do an activity around it together, but then I give them reflection work to do at home prior to our next session. All of this helps to make the learning real and the training stick.
Your Career After… can be scary but it can also be exciting. It can be all of the things! Look at it as an opportunity to reassess or build your foundation. We should all be doing that on a regular basis. These tips will help you get started with your clients or on your own journey.
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