Returning to work after a career break can be challenging but not impossible. Image courtesy of: sxc.hu
Returning to work after a career break can be a worrying time. It is also a great opportunity to take stock and make sure that you select a path that gives you the best chance of success and happiness.
There are always opportunities
Even in a time of recession there will always be opportunities either through starting your own business or in emerging companies who are having success. In many ways it is better to be in a position where you can assess your own strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities than it is to be in a job, looking over your shoulder and waiting for the next round of cuts.
Be clear about what you want
Unless you are clear about what you want from a job, you are very unlikely to find it. It is a good idea to review what elements of past jobs you have enjoyed, to look at your strengths and weaknesses and to be clear about the balance you wish to have between work and home life. As a minimum this will help you to avoid jobs to which you are unsuited and which will ultimately make you unhappy. For example, from past experience, you will know whether you are happiest leading a team and taking responsibility, whether you are more suited to working in a team being supported by others or indeed whether you prefer working on your own
Take control of your situation
It is easy to fall into the trap of just looking at job adverts to see if you can find one to which you are suited. While this is a good way to find out what is available it is not the only option. Many people take the opportunity to start their own business either with their own idea or by taking on a franchise. Others, who do not want to run their own business look for successful companies in their area and approach them directly.
Creating a job opportunity
It is easier to find a position and to develop your career in a successful growing company than it is in one that is shrinking. One of the biggest challenges is finding talented people to sustain the growth. It is therefore always great to be approached by good people who understand their qualities and how they will contribute to continued success.
Start by researching which companies in your area are being successful and enjoying good growth. Then try to put yourself in their position and work out what challenges growth will create for them. If you can identify a potential problem that you think you could solve for them this gives you an angle to approach them and will differentiate you from others with a less targeted approach.
How to acquire and develop skills
In some cases you will identify a job opportunity that is perfect for you but you do not feel you have all of the skills and experience required. Most enlightened employers will look at your personal skills and will be prepared to help the right person acquire the experience they need. Successful companies are more accustomed to helping people gain experience. You should present your personal qualities and how they will help to ensure your success in your target role. As an employer it is far easier to help someone gain the experience to do a job well than it is to find people with the right personal qualities to be a long term asset to their business.
Consider setting up your own business
One option that puts you more in control is to start up your own business. The article How to come up with a great business idea
on this site has lots of good advice about setting up your own business.
Franchising versus your own idea
The first decision to take is whether you want to start a brand new venture or whether you would prefer to operate a franchisee. There are advantages to either approach. With a franchise you will generally be working with a concept and system that has already worked for others and you should have the support of the franchise company. The downside to a franchise is you will be required to pay fees of some sort to the franchise company and you will probably be restricted in the territory you are able to work in. Unless you are really confident that you have all the skills required and a winning idea, franchising is often the best option.
Running a franchise business is a great learning opportunity
Running your own business is one of the best ways to acquire a broad range of business skills. A good franchise business will support your development. It is important to understand your development needs and to assess whether the franchise company is able to help you grow.
There are many aspects to consider when buying a franchise.
One of the most frequently overlooked is the opportunity to develop your career once you have acquired a franchise. The key things to look out for if you see running a franchise business as part of your career development are the ability and willingness of the franchise company to support you, whether existing franchisees support and help each other, the growth plans of the franchise company and the opportunities for you to grow through acquiring additional territories.
Ian Sharland is a director of Baby Sensory
, a company that designs early learning experiences for babies.
Prior to Baby Sensory, Ian worked with CMG
(Computer Management Group), which later merged with Logica to become LogicaCMG
. During his 20 years with the group he held many positions culminating in the role of MD of the enterprise services business. At that time the enterprise services business employed 600+ staff with a turnover of over £70 million.
While at LogicaCMG Ian was responsible for forming the Government Payroll business, which secured a 30 percent share of the Government payroll business within just five years of its launch.