How to start afresh in your career

Smiling young African American businesswoman working on a laptop at her desk in a bright modern office with colleagues in the background

Whether they’re re-entering the jobs market after a break to have children, or shifting career in mid-life, many women find themselves starting over at some point in their lives.

Here, Sam Spoors, founder and recruitment director at talent specialists Talentheads, looks at how women can make their work work for them.

There’s no such thing as a job for life anymore. We move, we have children, we have ambitions – all of which can mean we make fresh career starts throughout our lives.

I’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in the recruitment field for most of my working life, after I soon realised I didn’t have the life experience or resilience (at the time) to pursue my first career of social work.

However, I’ve still faced times in my life, such as when I had my two children, and when the company I was working for folded, when I’ve had to start again in some way.

When it comes to taking time off for parenthood, I get it. I’ve been there and got the (spit-up stained) T-shirt. I took five and six months off when I was blessed with my children and I know that it can be hard to enter back – into anything – after that, as the world has changed and your perception of things change. Having children, extra responsibility and becoming a role model made me hungrier for my career to develop and I don’t think the stints of family time have held my career back. 

I can honestly say, hand on heart, that my husband and I are a team. However, I have noticed that the organisation and planning for the family is still something I tend to do, and I’m not sure if that is a gender trait or expectation… or it may be a control and a multi-tasking approach that I have slightly more than my husband. But it is something I’m conscious of.

When it comes to expectations from employers and colleagues, there are women leaders who are carving the way and inspiring and encouraging others to push on, which is so valuable to see.

I’m also conscious that not all career breaks are for parenthood; plenty of women are reaching middle-age, or even younger, and wanting a new challenge.

We’ve noticed it more post-Covid, as people look for something more fulfilling than simply being a wage slave, and now is the time to do it as the current climate has allowed businesses and people to think differently. 

There are so many companies out there looking for candidates with the right approach and values as much as qualifications – and they’re keen to invest in development.

My advice to women considering taking the plunge is threefold…

Firstly, use your network. You never know who knows someone who could be really useful. Speak to people and ask their advice. You don’t know what this could lead to and the insight from others is also really valuable in itself.

Secondly, don’t just blindly leap into the unknown. Really take a step back and consider what it is that you want from your career; set your stall out and only compromise if essential. Going in with a clear vision will allow others around you to know where they stand and how they can support you.

Thirdly (although this is advice that suits all situations) set yourself a plan with clearly-defined goals. Break it down into manageable chunks of what you need to do first, then second, then third – and how those steps get you to where you want to be. Write it all down and make sure to celebrate each step as you go.

And once you have these three elements in place, do it! 

Take control and ultimately find happiness – you only live once.

Sam SpoorsAbout the author

Sam Spoors is the founder of talent and recruitment agency, Talentheads, which was launched in October 2020 after her previous company fell victim at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. She has worked in the industry for around 18 years, first in agencies and then in-house for a major hospitality and leisure business. Sam describes Talentheads as an in-house talent and resourcing team working with businesses on long-term, sustainable strategies to help them grow.

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