I have been a stay-at-home mom for around 20 years. My five children are finally out of the house, and I would like to go back to work. I’m in my mid-40s and ambitious. Throughout these years of raising my family, I have been active in the community, in my children’s school, and volunteered on several boards and committees.
The question I ask myself is what kind of work do I want to do? What career path should I take? I’m bored, confused and unhappy. Please guide me in the right direction.
Signed: Battling Back to Work (BTW)
Your situation is very common among the people who we serve here at JVS Toronto. We have plenty of mothers in your situation who have to work and are thrown into the labour market to start searching for a sustainable and meaningful career.
It is a process that takes time. I recommend the following small steps to get the ball rolling, based on my conversations with the JVS Toronto’s Employment Counsellors:
1. Increase your self-awareness. Identifying and understanding your passions, strengths, skills, education and experience through vocational assessments and testing is the first step. The more self-aware you are, the less confused you will be in your job search. All of your volunteering over the years is worth its weight in gold. You bring some fantastic transferable skills to any employer’s table including project management, organizational, and communication — to name a few.
We offer free employment workshops that explore your skills and interests, or affordable career exploration services that will identify a career that’s matched to your personality, interests and skills.
2. Invest time in targeted research. Once you have identified suitable careers through the tests, I would start researching, understanding and analyzing the job descriptions and companies that are hiring for these positions. Use internet and social media to gather this information. Identify professionals who are working in your dream job. Drop in to the offices that you have targeted and collect marketing materials from the companies. Figure out what qualifications, skills and experience you already have, and which you need to acquire. You may have to return to school to upgrade.
3. Conduct information interviews. This is another fantastic research technique that can also help with your networking which is probably the best way to get a job. We have discussed this in previous blog posts: cold call or warm call the professionals that you have researched above., learn about their positions, understand the labour market, and build relationships with these employees.
4. Volunteer. I am sure you are sick and tired of free work. But this is a great strategy for a reality check to see if you made the right career choice. It’s also an important networking strategy in addition to a way to gain experience in the field that is critical for your resume and interview as well as a reference. Legally, you can volunteer in an organization with a volunteer department or if you are part of a recognized coop internship program. As in my case, I was hired from volunteering for a few months at JVS as a job developer over nine years ago.
5. Connect with an Employment Counsellor. You do not have to search for your career alone. You are more than welcome to register with one of our Ontario Employment Source Centres closest to you and meet with an employment counsellor to figure out a way to make the results of the career decision-making workshop work for you and your entry into the complicated labour market. If you need to improve your computer skills or require other education, you can discuss this with your counsellor. First and foremost, you will need to figure out what is going to work for you and your immediate needs. Again, you can discuss this with the employment counsellor.
Best of luck with this challenging new step in your life,