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Career Change When Pregnant

There are many reasons why you might consider a career change when pregnant. If you’re on the outside looking in on an expectant mother thinking about changing jobs you might think it an odd idea – why complicate your life during one of the most transforming experiences through choice?

Well, there are a number of reasons for considering a career change when pregnant. Here are a few of them:

– You’re looking for a family friendly employer
– Looking for less hours
– You want a job closer to home so you spend less time commuting
– You are looking for more change
– Your job isn’t floating your boat anymore
– Your priorities or values have shifted
– You are worried about your health and safety at work
– You may have insecure work or be facing redundancy
– You may be thinking about giving up work for a few years to bring up your children

Whatever the reason for considering a career change when pregnant, it is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly if the choice is with you.

Beware that other workplaces seem to have more perks than where you work now but in reality they don’t stack up when weighed against the disadvantages. In some workplaces it may be that an employee is not entitled to certain maternity benefits until they have completed a specified period in that employment, so considering changing jobs on that basis would not be worth it due to not being entitled to those benefit on day one of employment.

The employer you are thinking of taking a job with may offer flexible working or the option to work at home. Do they also expect more hours than you are paid for though? Many teachers would relate to this, as they are seen to work term time only but are expected to be up to date with marking work and preparing lessons outside of the contact time with the students, which isn’t always factored in.

Looking for work takes up time and energy and when you are having a baby, you may not have much of either – especially if this isn’t your first baby. If you’ve been pregnant before you will know how tiring it is and if you’re working full time at the same time this can be difficult.

You need to consider your rights when applying for work. Have you asked yourself if it is fair to the new employer to take so much time off just after starting a new job? This is a moral conundrum as in law an employer has no right to ask this question, although in reality this may not always happen. I have certainly experienced situations where I have been asked my plans for having children in an interview and I know I am not alone due to my client work. From a moral perspective it is good practice to discuss this with an employer once they have offered the job. It will help you work out if practically it will work for you, and it will help the employer plan for your absence. If you are being brought in to troubleshoot a problem then it may have an impact on the business when you are off work, so it is fair to explore this with an employer.

It’s important to know your rights if things do go wrong so you can be armed with the facts.

Pregnant employees have four main rights:

– Paid time off for antenatal care
– Maternity leave
– Maternity pay or maternity allowance
– Protection against unfair treatment, discrimination and dismissal

You can find out more about your rights here.

If you want help to look for a new job, whether or not you are expecting a bundle of joy, you can contact us here.


Recruitment! Are You Excluding the Best Candidates?

Recruitment! Are You Excluding the Best Candidates?


Recruitment – chances are you don’t really enjoy it whether you are an employee or an employer.  If you’re an employee it is time consuming, you build your hopes up, you might have the perfect skills to do the job concerned – but can you put them across in the right way, employers don’t always get back to you and it can be a soul destroying experience.  If you’re an employer it’s also time consuming, you might not get the right person, it’s expensive and let’s face it – you would rather be getting on with running your business and doing what you love than sitting in a room listening to people churn out the answers they have been coached to say!  So for both sides it can be tedious and frustrating.  The recruitment process has been developed over a long time, but what – if anything can we do differently to make it more effective and efficient?
Modern recruitment tends to focus on experience.  Sometimes this is useful as it gives an indication of past success.  Or does it?  Just because someone has done something in the past, it doesn’t mean they made a good job of it.  Neither does it indicate whether or not they did it because they wanted to pay the bills, avoid trouble with their employer, or if they are really passionate about the work they were doing.  What about transferable experience?  Does it count in your process?  For example if a candidate has been employed in a workshop making doors, is this relevant to making tables, or are you going to disregard this in your recruitment?  Experience is no indicator of ability – if the candidate made a door, how well did they do it?  And how are you going to know this from asking them?  Sometimes a quick learner will be able to learn very easily a completely new skill, but have you excluded the best person for the job because they haven’t done it before?
As regards the tedious subject of application forms, the rationale behind their use can be readily understood.  They can make it easier to pick out the information an employer is looking for and all of the applications are in a standard format.  However, they are time consuming to put together, may not transfer over from one role to another very well, and the employer isn’t really seeing the potential in the candidates as they aren’t showing you what they think is important to them, and that might just give someone with potential an edge over the other people.  This of course depends on the job you are recruiting for.  You might need to hire someone with a certain level of knowledge already, or maybe it would be best to take someone with potential and train them up……  Maybe that application form is actually ruling out the best person for that job you are advertising, because the form is so onerous and they have so many other commitments that they decide not to fill it in.  Just think of the people with caring responsibilities who have so much to give but don’t apply because they are too busy working full time and looking after children or other family members in their spare time.  You might think these people would not be committed to your organisation and role, but actually these are the people who need the job the most so if they are treated well and their needs are met so they can do both, then they are likely to be committed and achieve within your organisation.  Covering letters are another waste of time in my view, especially if the application or CV is being sent by email – the candidate has to say something to introduce themselves in the email, yet some employers insist on a cover letter too.  Why?  It is just a collection of words that a candidate feels obliged to write in order to jump through another hoop.  I believe in efficiency, and if it isn’t necessary – don’t ask for it.  I believe in politeness and being respectful towards people and so I can see the argument for asking for a cover letter in some situations – for example it makes sense if you are asking for a CV and then you ask for a covering letter to give the candidates the opportunity to say a little bit more about how they meet the criteria for the job.  So that’s my perspective for an employer.  For an employee I would advise that you follow to the letter what the employer has asked for, even if it seems a little over the top.  If you aren’t going to spend the time following the instructions, it’s not worth applying in the first place.
Lies! Yes, shock horror! People tell lies to get jobs.  The question that will encourage most lies is probably “Why do you want the job?”  Well the real reason will probably be something along the lines of to pay the bills, its why most of us go to work.  So this question is going to get people saying how fantastic the company is, how it is their ambition or whatever else they can schmooze out of their mouth on the spur of the moment.  Why do employers ask this question?  Does the answer to this really tell you about the commitment of the candidate or does it just show you how tired the candidate is of having to make stuff up to try to jump through the hoops of the recruitment process?  If there are more candidates than jobs it is likely that the candidates you’re looking to recruit have had many interviews before this one- don’t forget, it might seem like you’re in charge but it’s actually quite difficult to find someone who will do the job well and fit in with your culture.  Do you really want to put people off by asking irrelevant questions or questions that encourage lies?
I mentioned the imbalance of power already and it is certainly a perspective I’ve come across many times.  Working with job seekers, they often think that the employer has all the power.  But do they really?  It’s actually the case that both sides have an unmet need and both sides have the potential to meet the need of the other.  The best candidates will also judge the quality of the employer and how they might be valued or not in that company.  Who wants to work for a company where they are treated like a number?  Or worse?
There is much current discussion about a skills gap. I believe there is a talent gap and that there is a stagnant pool of employees who are continually recruited into similar roles to ones they have done before when actually they have the potential to achieve so much more – but they’re not given the opportunity.  A candidate might not have experience of something in particular for a variety of reasons, mostly relating to opportunity. The employer should consider the possibility that the candidate may have untapped potential yet to be discovered.
There are so many different ways to find the right people for your company – so you need a strategy over the longer period.  Be creative and less prescriptive – you’re going to get the best people by using considered judgement as well as processes.  What about putting the person into a real situation rather than asking them to talk you through a situation?  What about asking what would they do instead of what have they done?  Recruitment should be an ongoing strategy – not a one off panic every time someone puts in their notice.
If you need help with recruitment, contact Kelly on 07881294894 or email kelly@cygnetnortheast.com

How to Switch Careers

How to Switch Careers

This week’s blog will focus on how to make a career change, following a request by one of my followers on Facebook.  I don’t know if you’ve had this happen to you, but I personally have applied for quite a number of jobs over the past 10 – 15 years or so mainly due to short term funding in the voluntary sector where I have worked.  I have found that the jobs I have been successful in being offered are usually closely aligned with the sort of work I have been doing in the recent past, in a previous role.  The more people who apply for the job, the more they seem to focus on experience – whether their priority is with the client group or maybe a database they want you to use without having to give training.  The reason often given for not being offered a job is that someone else had more experience than me.  The problem is, how am I to gain that experience unless I am given the opportunity?  It is definitely not an easy issue to get round, especially if you have commitments to a mortgage, to paying off a loan, or to raising your family it can make changing career harder.   So if you are in a career that is not well suited to your values – you took it because it was well paid /  it offered you good job security /  it was what your father did / you fell into it by accident –  then what do you do?  Well the answer is that it depends.
I would start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How many years am I prepared to work towards my chosen career?
  • Can I afford to be without an income for the duration of retraining or is there an option for part time learning?
  • How motivated am I to do this?
  • Is it the right time?
  • If I am miserable at work, are there any ways I can minimise the factors that make me miserable?
  • Am I prepared to volunteer to gain experience?
  • Are there many opportunities in the career path that I would like to enter into, or is it very competitive?
  • Am I prepared to start in an entry level role again and work my way up?
  • If I have children, how will this impact on my decisions?

There may be a few more questions depending on your own personal circumstances, and this is before you have even explored the possibilities of career options.  Add in the fact that if you ask other people for help they will no doubt all have opinions – and let’s not be too hard on them they want to help! These suggestions can be really useful, or they can drown out our values and our inner voice so that we get so confused we really don’t know what to do or where to turn.  If you are facing this dilemma, please do get in touch.  I can help you work through your confusion and make some decisions based on what your own values are, to help you be true to yourself.  Whilst the suggestions of others can be helpful at times, you only have one life – why waste it on making other people happy?
If you want to go for it and would like some help to get where you want to go, please contact us.

Seize the day!

The Benefits of Independent Careers Advice

The Benefits of Independent Careers Advice

At the start of my career path, I went to a local college for some help to enroll onto a course.  I had decided I wanted to study childcare,  I was very young, and didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a career and someone made a suggestion which seemed as good as other course I could do at the time.  So there I was at the college, waiting to be seen by someone.  I ended up having a meeting with a member of staff who failed to help me with childcare and attempted to get me to enroll on a different course than the one I had told him I wanted to be on.  He didn’t listen to my needs and seemed to have an agenda which didn’t match my own.  As this happened about 18 years ago, I am a little vague on the detail now, but I will never forget how this treatment made me feel.  I ended up trying desperately to hold back the tears in the waiting area as I didn’t want anyone to see me cry in public.  I then ended up talking to someone else who happened to be a tutor on a childcare course and pointed me in the right direction.  However, despite the kindness of several members of staff I wasn’t given the correct information about childcare and the free places and to cut a long story short was unable to access those places at the start of the course.  Had I been given the correct information in the first instance, the situation would have been much less stressful.  I know now I am a careers adviser that I would have benefited from independent careers advise which might have helped me get to my chosen vocation in a more direct route than I took.  I completed the childcare course and decided (eventually) that it wasn’t the right career for me and went round the houses for years – joking along the way that I still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up!

So the point of that tale was that I really would have benefited at that point from someone who cared about my aspirations, listened to my needs and helped me explore my values and aspirations.   I am aware of other advice available around career changes, but much of the advice is there to encourage people onto a particular training course, or is mandatory as the government tries to support people back to work.

Most people at some point in their lives would benefit from independent careers guidance.  This can be on the start of their career path, where they are struggling to advance their career, facing a redundancy situation or thinking of retirement.  I believe that people who have access to independent careers advice will be empowered to tap into their own aspirations quicker than those who don’t.  We can have very well meaning people in our lives who can muddy the water when making decisions as they are helpful by making suggestions to us.  Sometimes this can prevent us from listening to our inner voices and tapping into our values and dreams.  I provide a space where open questions and a non judgmental attitude support you to find your own path, one that is right for you, your aspirations and your current circumstances.

If you would like independent careers guidance, contact Kelly today on 07881294894 or email Kelly@cygnetnortheast.com

Returning to Work After a Gap

Returning to Work After a Gap

It can be difficult to return to employment following a gap for any reason – whether that is because you have been looking after someone (bringing up a family or supporting a family member due to ill health), because you have suffered a health problem yourself, or if you have been working in a career and decide you would like to pursue a different direction.

Without recent experience in the field that you would like to move into, or without an idea of what it is you want to do it can be difficult to know where to start.  There are many options open to you, and your path will be determined by a number of factors.  These include your current financial situation, how long you want to work towards your chosen field (are you prepared to retrain or volunteer for a few years?), what your current skills are and what your values are.  Its also wise to think about the opportunities that are available to you.  Is it realistic to want to be the next Prime Minister?  Well someone has to be but it’s important to know what might be involved in this and whether you think it is worth the effort.

Having a fixed idea of what you want to do can be helpful as it means you will be able to plan the steps you need to take quite easily, however there are disadvantages to this approach if you don’t have any flexibility and you are not prepared to change course if opportunities arise on the way to your chosen goal.  However on the other hand not having any idea of where you want to go and being swayed by every potential opportunity that comes your way can be a massive barrier too.  This is due to having too many opportunities and not focusing on any one thing, you are less likely to achieve any of them.

So the point of this article really is to point out that it is good to have a plan, but a plan that is flexible and one that is dynamic based on developments of the situation that invariably come up in your life.  If you don’t know where to start, or you just need a little bit of help, I can help you to get onto the right path and help you to stay focused.  Sometimes, just knowing that there is someone there asking how you are getting on with your plan can help you to stay focused and make sure you do all the things you say you are going to do!

If you need help to decide what next, or how to be successful in finding a job after taking a career break for whatever reason get in touch – Kelly@cygnetnortheast.com or phone 07881294894. Or you can use our contact form.  We can help you to explain why you haven’t been in work in a positive way.