During a casual talk, a women restarter asked me a couple of days back – “I am looking to restart my career after 5 years’ break. I am an IT person. I know that there are options like teaching which I can do from home or at my convenience. I have been trying other work from home or flexible options also. But they offer such a meagre pay, why should I take it up and waste my time?”
So, this is one question many more have asked me! I know many of you reading this would also feel the same. Here’s what I told her – “Ok, so you are experienced in IT. But you want to pursue a career in some other field in which you have hardly any experience. Why do you think your employer should take you? Isn’t that employer taking a risk by offering you a job you are not experienced in? And what if you fail to complete the task your manager asks you to do? He/She gets into trouble since the job has to be finished, even if you don’t do it!!!”
What we often fail to understand is that the employer will also think, as he is paying you the salary and has work to be finished! Ok, now I don’t want to be biased, because there are cases when the employer takes advantage of your situation and offers you a very less pay. But if you are experienced and skilled, the employer will come around even if you refuse to accept a low pay.
But then, the key is to acquire the knowledge! Gain that experience that makes you in demand! So, my advice to the restarters is this – “Learn first and gain experience! Then you become in-demand and you get better opportunities!”
That has been my experience when I switched over from IT and retail to Writing! I had literally no formal experience in writing. I was always interested in it and used to manage some basic writing works regarding the projects in IT. I used to write official letters and advertising copy for the shop I used to manage! But then, I had no clue it would help me! So, when I got an opportunity to try out writing, from home, I took it as an opportunity to learn. I was working for a nominal pay. But that never made me feel inferior or held me back from putting good effort! I used the opportunity to learn different kinds of writing as the person for whom I used to write used to be quite flexible and helped me with samples when I struggled with the formats. So, every day turned out to be a learning day, despite the extremely low pay.
Two years down the lane, I realized the worth of my learning and the experience I gained. That’s when I decided to get into writing full time. The very first job I had applied, I got selected and I was offered a work-from-home option, though I hadn’t even asked for it! That happened because of my experience. The pay was less, though better than earlier. But the work was also not too tough! I used that opportunity to learn more. I used the experience to experiment with different types of content because my work offered that space.
During these times, I managed to build a profile which had different types of content. In my field, such an experience is really worth. All the effort that I had put in earlier, the enthusiasm and the learnings, are helping me now. I am offered jobs that I don’t even apply.
So, for those looking to restart your career, please do consider these:
- Find out what you want to do! Use Google; it helps!
- Understand what skills you need to develop or polish to get into that field
- Remember, if the skills can be acquired, no one can stop you from switching your career!
- Get trained in this new field or refresh your skills to restart
- If you can’t step out to learn, you can’t step out to work too!
- Network – Meet up people, online and offline, professionally
- Build a LinkedIn Profile and engage with people and posts. Try to add value by sharing useful information and your thoughts on various other shared information.
- Volunteer, take up internships, even if they don’t pay! Your idea is to gain experience and build a profile. Pay is a bonus!
- Remember, experience matters more than your career gap!!!
- Don’t hide your career gap or inexperience. Don’t highlight them either!
- Join restarter networks and attend their meetups
- Discuss your pain-points with Mentors. They may be able to guide you.
- Invest your time and effort to build a profile, learn new skills and gain experience. Success will follow!
- Let your passion be the guiding star and not just the pay!
- Don’t forget to give back! Share your experience with fellow restarters and help them grow too.