If you’re one of them but not sure what to do, career coach, Amy Shepherd, has an idea to get you thinking...
COVID has thrown nearly everything we used to accept as 'the norm' upside down. Like millions of other parents, I used to hop on a bus with my son to drop him at school, then grab a coffee with a friend before getting on a jam-packed train into work.
But with the WTF? has also come the WTD? (What To Do) for many people in their careers.
The most frequently asked questions in the Facebook Group this month have been requests for advice on what or where next, in our careers?
It’s an age-old dilemma in hetero-parenting couples where women are paid less, so tend to be the ones who take time out and raise the kids; we then can’t or don’t want to go back to what we were doing before.
This situation is changing, but not fast enough. And until it does, many of us still want to (and need to) work. We also want to feel fulfilled by our careers, but finding jobs and employers that accept we have family commitments is the Holy Grail.
I know that in a lot of households, where one parent was previously spending 12 or more hours a day out of the house, it has been an eye-opener and sparked a conversation about just how heavy the 'domestic load' is.
And with plenty of employers making remote working a permanent arrangement, for some parents that means an opportunity to redesign how they both share this domestic load, and how they work. (I have to offer up an ENORMOUS high five to the single parents at this point. I don’t know how you do it, but I do know that your personal strength could move mountains).
But whether it’s women who’ve been furloughed and can’t see themselves going back, been made redundant, or just that the world has been turned upside down; there’s an opportunity to re-evaluate what we thought we wanted, and what’s actually important to us, as individuals.
Pregnant Then Screwed, a charity that campaigns for women’s employment rights, said 72% of mothers they spoke to had been forced to cut their hours because of childcare issues during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a recent study by AllBright, a women’s networking group, found that two-thirds of women are planning a complete career change in the wake of the pandemic, and a similar number are planning to invest in new skills training to benefit themselves and their career.
But what to do can be the biggest challenge.
There are plenty of skills training programmes around – and some of them are free – but you need to know that a career in teaching, or coding, or social media is really for you before you go investing time and money in training.
Amy Shepherd is a highly-qualified career coach and organisational psychologist with years of Learning & Development experience under her belt. I asked her where do you start when a new coaching client comes to you because they need help figuring out where to go next?
This is what Amy said:
“There is a great exercise you can do where you create a little graph and plot each and every job you’ve had over the years and how you felt about it. Along the horizontal axis is time and the vertical axis is how happy you were. Then you draw your graph and you’ll see it is usually fairly wavy. You were probably feeling great when you took and started the job but for any number of reasons that line will bob up and down over time.
Once you have your graph, you can think and write down what it was about each role that made you feel that way. That gives you an idea of what you did or did not enjoy about each job, so you start to compile a list of the things you want in a new career. And it really can be as broad as you like at this point. You are just looking to get yourself out of the starting blocks.
Of course, it is unlikely this on its own will give you a visionary moment and you’ll know immediately where you’re next heading – I usually do this at the start of a coaching programme with my clients and we go on to hone in on this and build an achievable plan. But it is still a helpful exercise that can be done on your own. It also helps to give you an “elevator pitch” so that when people ask you what you want to do, you can say you’re looking for something that does include X, Y or Z, but does not include A, B, or C.”
And you never know - that could be standing at the school gate or in the socially-distanced queue for your next coffee.
Amy Shepherd leads the Careering into Motherhood 'Path To Your Future' coaching programme. Booking closes for the next cohort on 14 October 2020.
It’s a five-week programme in a small, supportive group of women, that takes you through coaching exercises where you will discover what you need for job satisfaction, what you’re good at and what you enjoy.
You will create a vision of your future and then work together with the others on the programme to set your personalised SMART goals and make your plan.
For the last time this year, the discounted price for this 10-hour coaching and network building programme is £300+VAT. Book by 7 October 2020 for a 10% discount.
Please get in touch for the course brochure.