No career is perfect.
I repeat. No. Career. Is. Perfect.
Anyone who says that their career has gone exactly as they planned it with their college guidance counselor 20 years ago is lying to you. Through their teeth.
My favorite quote of the moment, which I think perfectly sums up the unpredictability of our careers is:
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face” ~ Mike Tyson
Push. Pull. Twists. Turns. Ups. Downs. Peaks. Valleys. Explosions. Implosions. Layoffs. Firings. Promotions. Demotions.
You will get knocked down. But you’ll get up. And when you get up, things will be different.
And different is not bad.
You may think certain career moves look bad on paper, but they don’t. You may think that your decision to take the first job you were offered after being unemployed for months was a bad move, but it wasn’t. You may be worried about the fact that you left the work force to raise a family, but you shouldn’t. These are parts that make up the greater sum that is YOUR career.
Here are 3 supposed career “flaws” (which really aren’t flaws at all) I wish you’d stop worrying about.
Maternity, Paternity and Caregiver Leaves
The most important job in the world is raising and caring for other human beings. Recruiters, hiring managers, and employers GET that. As a parent or as a caretaker, you’re doing critical work. Yes, it does take you out of the conventional workforce, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t acquiring transferable skills.
Returning to School
This is time very well-spent. A desire to freshen your skills or acquire entirely new ones demonstrates your initiative and drive to consistently improve. These are characteristics that employers can’t teach, yet crave in the ideal candidates.
A Pattern of Short-Term or Seemingly Irrelevant Gigs
Job searches can drag on sometimes. Especially in the current job market. But even as the job market seems as dry as the Sahara, bills continue to flow in like Niagara Falls. What to do? We take the next job that comes along. It may have nothing to do with what we studied in University or a complete deviation from our career path, but we take it because we have to.
Anyone who does hiring knows that these are the conditions in which we are working. And a determination to stay working rather than prolong a job search in search of the ‘perfect’ role is often perceived more favourably.
What to Do
The time you invested in the above was worth it. You created new skills, faced challenges head-on, and grew as a person and as a professional. Reflect on this time and think about the wins and skills you accumulated and anything else that you feel proud of.
Revise Your Resume & Cover Letter
Next, make use of the handy Career Note on your resume as I’ve discussed in previous posts. Mention how you spent your career “gaps” whether it was parenting, providing care, going to school, or temping. Call out this time on your cover letter and express your interest in re-entering your profession and reigniting your career growth.
For the short-term/seemingly irrelevant gigs, make sure that you’re doing them justice. It was still real work, with real responsibilities, and real results. Note these.
This is my #1 wish for you. Relaaaaaaaaaaaax. Job history is just that: history. You can’t change it, and you certainly shouldn’t hide it. Even more, it’s not nearly as bad as you think it is. Be strategic and intentional about your job search and career path. I believe in you.