Category Archives for "freelance"

Planning a holiday - job search
Aug 01

How planning a holiday can help your job search

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

We’re in the middle of the summer holiday season. What can the experience of planning a holiday teach you about searching for a new job or career?

Know yourself

Choosing the right holiday requires a realistic understanding of what you need and want. A lively resort, or a hike in the hills? Would relaxing on a cruise ship be your idea of heaven, or would you be ready to jump overboard after 24 hours?

Similarly, we all feel happier in different workplaces. For example, an exciting fast paced career or a professional field such as law might seem aspirational, but you might in reality be happier in a hands-on caring role. Or you may believe in the ethos of public service, but in reality feel frustrated and feel hemmed in the bureaucracy of local government, yet find you thrive in a start up.

The key to happiness at work is to identify what really matters to you, not what you or others think you SHOULD want.

Accept your life stage

Seaside holidayThere may have been a time when you yearned for adventure, but now you’re better off with the kids on a sandy shore with a bucket and space.

A demanding job that suited you in your 20s may not be such a good fit now. Sometimes family or caring commitments require a re-evaluation of your career ambitions.  And you can do this in a way that sets you up to re-build your career later on. A typical working lifetime is around 45 years. Rather than try to do everything it once, it’s fine to scale back and step up at different life stages.

Research for job search

Chances are that you do a fair amount of research before choosing a holiday. Perhaps you look at options online, read reviews, talk to friends, ask for recommendations… Sometimes it might seem that we do more research for a holiday than for choosing a career!

A serious job or career search requires plenty of research. Google is a good starting point, but don’t underestimate the value of talking to people. And don’t just rely on people in your social circle – reach out to people in fields that attract you. Ask for introductions, see if people will be willing to give you some advice. Find out what your dream job is really like.

Use imagination

Beach sceneWhen you’re looking at holiday options, you may find yourself imagining what it will be like. You see yourself getting up to breakfast on the terrace, going for a daily swim, relaxing over supper in a taverna…

When you’re thinking about career change, try imagining yourself in a series of different jobs or fields of work. What will your daily routine look like: what will you be doing, who will you be seeing, how will you be feeling

Consider the positive aspects, and also make sure your vision isn’t too rose tinted. It’s important that you include elements such as your daily commute. See yourself doing the duller parts of each role as well as the more interesting aspects. Do the positives outweigh the downsides?

Package or go-it-alone?

Do you prefer to book a package holiday – letting someone else sort out the practicalities and logistics? Or do you prefer to arrange your own holiday, booking the travel, accommodation and any transfers yourself?

In career terms, employment is more like a package deal. Your employer supplies the job description, the parameters of the role and usually the accommodation, such as an office or workshop. You provide your skills and energy in exchange for a salary and benefits.

This contrasts with self employment, which can be more like a go-it-along trip. You have more freedom to create your own freelance career or establish a business. But there is a lot more for you to organise, before you even start work. You need to ensure there is a market for your services or products, and be willing to get involved in marketing, selling and managing your enterprise.

Ask an expert

Many of us arrange our holidays online, which is analogous to using job boards or looking at job ads. But sometimes it’s easier and more effective to book via a travel agent. A good agent will listen to your requirements and recommend suitable holidays using their specialist knowledge.

Similarly, if you know the type of work you are seeking, a good recruitment consultant can help match you to a job or company where you are well suited.

And if you’re not yet sure what kind of job you want to go for, a career coach can help you work this out, with impartial expert support.

Wishing you happy holidays!

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Balancing work and motherhood
Mar 24

Tips for balancing work and motherhood

By Felicity Dwyer | freelance , Productivity , Small Business

 

Balancing work and motherhood (or fatherhood) is quite an art, so I approached some successful working mums for tips on how they manage. I hope you enjoy the insightful and practical advice they came up with, and please add your own tips too.

Prioritise Ruthlessly

Kara Stanford from KMS Marketing says: “Know what you absolutely must do for work and family, then do those things first. Know what are the “should do’s” and do them next. Finally, know what are the “nice to do’s” and fit them in when you can.”

Kara subdivides this into work, family and “staying sane”. Her work must do’s include paid client work as a top priority. Family must do’s are: never working when she is looking after the children. And her stay sane must do’s are having at least one day at the weekend where she does no work at all.

“When I stop ruthlessly prioritising, it all falls apart…! This week, as we are on day 15 of chickenpox, I have only been able to do my “must do’s” but once we’re through it all, I’ll be able to do everything I want to again. Until then, top priorities first!”

Don’t try to multi-task

Juggling timeBarbara Graham from jewellers Stella and Dot advises ring fencing your time – don’t fall for the multitasking myth

“We are far less efficient if we try to do more than one job at a time.  Your business and parenting will both suffer and you’ll be exhausted and stressed by the feeling you are constantly underperforming in all areas of your life.  Determine when your office work hours and when your mummy hours are.  Tell your team, tell your customers, and tell your friends and family!”

Helen Cousins, decluttering consultant at Fresh Spaces agrees: “Don’t try to multi-task. It actually stops you being present and scatters your thoughts making you less effective. If you are with you children – then ‘be with’ them. If you are working – then pick one item to prioritise and then only action that one. “

Get help when you need it

“If you need to pay for childcare to give yourself some free time – DO IT!” says Barbara. “I see a lot of women who are just starting their business and not earning huge amounts who feel they need to wait until they are earning more to justify the cost of childcare.  But how can they expect their business to grow if they aren’t giving themselves the time to work on it?  Time is the most crucial investment your business needs, so if you need it, do it, and reap the rewards in years to come.”

Be comfortable with “good enough” housework

“The world won’t stop spinning just because you didn’t empty the dishwasher’. I’ve recently learnt this one myself and so far we are all still surviving”, says Helen. And Kara agrees, her must dos when the pressure is on include “cleaning just enough so that I know we won’t get ill.”  And learning consultant Maggie Piazza emphasises that “being ‘good enough’ is good enough – both at home or at work.”

Time to recharge

WalkingDoctor Lucy Boyland emphasises how important it is to take time for yourself, and do something that is neither for work or parenting. And she counsels: “Don’t feel guilty about it! I know from my experience growing up that if you’re happy (or not) as a mother, it has a huge impact on your family.”  Membership administrator Nikki Halliwell agrees “It’s important to have some me time/time out. I really enjoy my running class.” Kara’s time out must-dos include walking every day, and seeing friends at least once a week.

Be organised

“Be very organised” is the top tip from Karen Guler, MD at Envision Financial Solutions. Nikki agrees “Being organised the night before, bags packed, lunch boxes on the side, clothes ironed…”

Find a work pattern that suits you

Nikki enjoys being self-employed: “…so I can work the hours that suit family life, and she has help from her parents who live locally. Lucy works part-time, which give her a good balance between a demanding job that she loves, and her family. And speaking recently with a group of women in technical industries, I heard examples of husbands working part-time or staying at home to care for young children.

Free up your headspace!

I love all the wise words above. A tip that has helped me to stay organised and escape the multi-tasking trap is to use a to-do list app properly, and capturing EVERYTHING I need to do in one place. From a quick phone call to a new project, it all goes in the Wunderlist app (other to-do list apps are available!)  It’s on my phone so if an idea comes into my brain when not working, I can make a quite note and forget about it. The app syncs to my desktop so I can take time to review, sort and prioritise my notes when I’m next at my desk.

This approach frees up so space in my head. We can only hold a few thoughts in our working memory (the part of our mind we have access to at any one time). So by writing things down, we can stop expending energy trying to remember them, thus freeing up energy for family and friends.

What tips do you have for balancing work and parenting? Please share in the comments below.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Women considering career change at 40
Feb 28

Is it too late to change career at 40? (or 50…?)

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

“Is it too late to change career at 40?” “Am I too old to start a new career at 50?” You may have asked yourself this kind of question. It’s one I hear quite often. And my answer is “No, it’s definitely not too late”.

There are many options open to you at 40 and beyond. And often the barriers to making a change are internal rather than external. It helps if you focus on what you CAN offer, and regard your age as an advantage rather than a drawback.

Mid-life experience

You reach mid-life with a wealth of experience. You are have more understanding of the world. You may also have more self-knowledge than earlier in life. This doesn’t mean that career change is easy. Like anything worthwhile it may require tenacity, focus and resilience to make a shift. But this is true at any age!

What can you bring with you from your work (and life) experience into a new career? Do take the time to review your own skills, strengths and interest, and reflect on what you would really like to be doing. And take time to research the options available to you.

Here are some viable mid-life career change options.

Consultancy

Consultancy can be a good choice if you have some specific expertise and enjoy the field you are in. It can offer you more control over your working life. Your current employer may be willing to offer you some work on a freelance basis. This can help you get started. Generally you will need to find other clients too, so your employer doesn’t fall foul of employment legislation. You may like to contact other companies in your field, or sign up for consultancy opportunities on a job board like Indeed.

A sideways move

If you would rather stay in employment, but want a change, consider a sideways move. You might like to take your transferable skills into a new sector. Or build on an established track record in your current sector but look at changing your job role. For example, you could take sales skills from a commercial environment and move into a fundraising role with a charity.

Start a business

Cup of coffeeHave you always wanted to run a café, run a drama club, design curtains…?  Starting your own business can offer you control over your future. It’s not for the faint hearted, and if you’ve always been employed there will be a learning curve. But it can be exhilarating and rewarding.

There are various routes you can take. For example: you can go it alone, find a business partner, or buy into an established business model through a franchise. It’s essential to undertake research in the early stages to establish if there’s actually a market for your business idea.

Portfolio career

portfolio career is where you have two or more jobs or businesses giving you strands of income. This approach can be a ongoing way of working, or it can offer a way into a career change. A part-time job in your current line of work can free up time to explore other options whilst bringing in an income.

For example you might work three days a week, and spend two days studying for a new qualification, or building up a small business on the side.

Volunteer

VolunteerVolunteering is another way to gain helpful experience, in return for your time. This can fit in with a portfolio career approach, a sideways move or even a complete change. By giving your time on a trustee board you could get experience of leadership and governance. By running workshops for young people, you could gain experience and find out if you would like to work in this field. Voluntary work can also help grow your network and build confidence. Find volunteer opportunities on Do-It.org

Retrain

There have never been more opportunities to retrain, without having to go back to full-time study. Apprenticeships are being given a particular push by government at the moment, and they are not just for the young. And there are job shortages in certain sectors such as nursing which means that age isn’t a barrier to finding a job after retraining.

Thinking about a career change? Please get in touch if you’d like some help with clarifying your next steps.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Business Plan
May 16

Dream of starting your own business? Here’s how to lift your idea off the ground.

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

Starting your own business is an increasingly popular choice for people who want a new direction in mid-life. Not surprising, as it offers you the promise of autonomy. And you can create a business that is well suited to your values, interests and skills.

Do YOU dream of starting your own business, but aren’t sure how to get your ideas off the ground?

I recently came away buzzing from attending the Workfest conference. It’s inspiring to spend a day immersed in the experiences of women who have started successful enterprises. Here is a round up of the top tips I took away from the day. And if after reading this, you have advice to add, please post a comment below.

  1. Write a business plan – it doesn’t have to be complex but it will help you think through your ideas, and you’ll need it if you want to raise external funding.
  2. Do your research – is there a market for your products and services? Design a questionnaire using a tool like Survey Monkey and get it out via social media and email. Don’t just ask your family and friends. Extend your research: reach out through your networks, and ask people to forward your survey on.
  3. Having a vision for your business is important, but not enough on it’s own. You also need a practical plan with concrete achievable steps to take in the next weeks and months.
  4. Be marmite, not vanilla. Work out who you really want to help our where you unique skills and experience could take you, and focus on that market. You can read my take on niching here.
  5. Be realistic about your financial forecasts. Most businesses won’t make a profit in the first year, and maybe not for several years, particularly if you plan to invest and grow in a sustainable way, or move beyond a freelance or hobby business and take on staff.
  6. Be selective in how you invest early on. You don’t need spend a fortune on your logo or stationery to start with, especially as you may want to tweak and develop your brand as you go.
  7. When you are looking for people to help you with your website, logo, accounts etc, try to go through personal recommendations. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with a great supplier, but it does reduce the risk.
  8. Take action. If you are currently employed and want to start up, think about how you can bridge the gap towards your own enterprise. Can you start with a small pilot project to test an idea? Action is better than perfection; don’t wait until an idea is perfect before giving it a try, or you may never start.

Anything to add?  Please share your start up tips, or any questions, in the comments box (you’ll find it below the related articles section).

Wondering whether to start your own business?

Would you like some one-to-one support with changing direction and working for yourself?  My services include a two-hour Focus and Action mentoring session. This can help you if you already have a business ideas (or lots of ideas!) and need some focus and clarity to move forward.  

Or if you’re not sure what you want to do next, career coaching can help you consider a wide range of option.  

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.