Guest post by Virginia Russell
If you are a woman who left the job market during the pandemic or who is presently thinking of leaving, the following process will take you step by step through the career transition you will need to complete — whether you decide to go back to the traditional workplace or start your own business.
According to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the number of women who left the labor force from February 2020 to January 2022, represented approximately 63 percent of all jobs lost. Millions of women left the traditional job market to care for their children as schools and day care centers closed to prevent the spread of disease. Burnout from juggling all aspects of family life, including caring for sick family members, plus dissatisfaction with current practices of their employers, difficult bosses, and toxic work culture combined, causing women to leave their jobs and to think about transitioning to better paying positions and better work environments.
Other factors are contributing to women’s willingness to take risks to start something on their own, such as freelancing, gig work or starting a business. The YOLO (you only live once) movement, the realization that traditional jobs are not more secure, the availability of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and the ease of connections via the internet are just a few examples.
If you are ready to take the leap, work through these steps to get started on your career transition.
Phase I – Start with Self-Assessment which takes Self Awareness
Uncover your values both personal and generational (Boomer, X, Y, Z).
- Where did they come from–parents, culture, school, religion, peers, or the media?
- How do you spend your time and money?
- List your five top values and prioritize them for your present situation.
Recognize your strengths and skills
- What skills do you need now and in the future? McKinsey & Co. published a comprehensive breakdown of these skills in a June 2021 article “Defining the skills citizens will need in the future world of work.” These were broken down into four categories: Cognitive, Interpersonal, Self Leadership, and Digital. You may already have or use some of these skills in your current workplace.
- Identify skills you have from past experiences and positions.
- Conduct a Personal 360-degree assessment of your strengths– with feedback from someone who knows you well.
- Utilize some of the following formal assessments that I use in my coaching practice:
- Strengthsfinder — Comprehensively identifies your top five strengths.
- EI: Your Emotional Intelligence Quotient — Accessible via a short assessment through Talentsmart.com.
- Enneagram –Identifies your archetype personality and wing.
- MBTI Global Assessment —Indicates your work style and areas for development
Set goals – Figure out SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely). Create a vision statement to reflect these goals.
Research potential new fields and businesses – Interview entrepreneurs or people working in those areas. For traditional workplaces check out advertised positions on websites like Indeed.com to understand the requirements of your target position.
Uncover what’s holding you back – What is your blind spot, your barriers (both individual and those attributed traditionally to women, i.e., fear of risk taking, getting promoted, being a perfectionist, expressing negative self talk, feeling fraud syndrome).
Figure out how to make change – Join a professional women’s organization for your target industry. Take courses in your area of interest.
Find someone to hold you accountable – Find a coach, mentor, or professional in your target industry.
Phase II – Marketing Yourself
- Create a branding statement using what you identified in Self- Assessment for your resume, LinkedIn profile, and networking activities.
- Network at alumni organizations, women’s professional associations, and social organizations.
- Identify positions – from LinkedIn, Indeed.com, Ladders, etc.
- Write a targeted cover letter for each specific position to which you are applying.
- Practice interviewing.
- Practice negotiating for salary and benefits.
If you would like to go into more depth on these steps, check out Virginia’s book “Stand Out A Woman’s Guide to Creating Your Personal Brand for Today’s Job Market” on Amazon. You can also contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.linkedin.com/in/virginiarussell