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Category Archives: Transitions

Business woman and building

One of the sad and disappointing effects of the COVID pandemic (aside from the tragic loss of life) is that a disproportionate number of women have had to leave their jobs, either temporarily or permanently. Time Magazine reports, “Between August and September, 865,000 women dropped out of the labor force, according to a National Women’s Law Center analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics September jobs report. In the same time period, just 216,000 men exited the workforce.”

Why is this happening?

It could be any number of reasons. For one, industries that are female-dominated (education, service industry jobs, child care, etc.) have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Also, due to at-home schooling and daycare centers shutting their doors, there’s becoming a greater need for parents to stay home with children. And, guess what? The lowest wage earner is inevitably the one who will stay home, which is typically the woman (As of 2020 women make an average of $.81 for every $1.00 a man brings in).

We can’t solve the gender pay gap in one blog post. Nor can we give women all the safety nets they need (affordable childcare, paid maternity leave, etc.). However, we CAN focus on one key question to attempt to turn around this grim situation:

How can women re-enter the workforce once they are able to come back?

I’ll be frank. Once you leave the workforce for an extended period of time, the cards are stacked against you. Resume gaps never look good, and you may fall behind on industry advancements and new skillsets. However, there ARE a few steps you can take to make yourself a more enticing candidate to future employers. Here are four steps you can take:

1. Never Stop Working

This may sound counter-intuitive, but it IS possible to avoid resume gaps by doing very part-time work at home. If you’re a graphic designer, for instance, you might take on the occasional freelance project. If you’re a writer, you could volunteer for your neighborhood newspaper. If you specialize in social media marketing, you could put in some hours volunteering for a friend’s business. If you have a finance background, you could consider becoming a virtual financial assistant (typically a very part-time gig).

Yes, not every job is conducive to part-time, at-home work. If you used to work in healthcare, for instance, you can’t exactly care for patients in your free time at home! Instead, consider volunteering in a relevant area or skip ahead to tip #2:

2. Stay Relevant

When you leave a job, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your industry and refresh your skills, when you can. Sign up for newsletters, read articles, or listen to podcasts related to your industry.

If you have the time and bandwidth, consider taking an online class or pursuing relevant certification. You might even connect with a local college or university to see if they’re offering any useful classes for people who are not full-time students.

3. Network

Never stop networking. According to Diane Flynn, co-founder and CEO of Reboot Accel, “About 85 percent of women returning to work find jobs through their network.”

Even if you’re temporarily working as a homemaker, you can still continue to keep in touch with your network. Send the occasional email or LinkedIn message to former co-workers, join an online women’s networking group, or check out Toastmasters.

Once you’re ready to start looking for work again, don’t be afraid to make your job hunt public. Post about it on social media, send emails to friends who could possibly assist you, and drop your former co-workers a line. You never know who might say, “Yes! I know of a job opening that would suit you perfectly!”

4. Tap Into Resources

Believe it or not, there’s an entire industry set up to help people re-enter the workplace after a long break. Firms such as iRelaunch or companies offering reentry programs (sometimes called “returnships”) are actively seeking to hire people who have been out of a job for an extended period of time.

You might also contact your alma mater’s career center for guidance or work with a career coach who specializes in worker reentry.

5. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

If you are trying to re-enter the workforce after a significant break, there is absolutely no need to feel shame or embarrassment. Push those feelings aside and concentrate on your enthusiasm and your relevant skills and expertise. Demonstrate that you are ready to hit the ground running and willing to put in the legwork to do the best work possible.

If an interviewer asks about a gap on your resume, don’t shy away from the question. Instead, be honest! Tell them you had to temporarily stay home to care for your school-aged children, but you’re now ready, enthusiastic, and as prepared to work.

Remember: Your volunteering experience, memberships, and online classes/certifications count! If, for example, you sat on the PTA or organized an annual fundraiser for your church, be sure to tout that experience and demonstrate its relevance. For example:

“For three years I spearheaded my church’s annual walk to end hunger fundraiser. As chair of the committee, I was in charge of 30 volunteers, organized all the event logistics, and tracked over $10,000 in donations.”

In sum: Don’t sell yourself or your experience short!

Re-entering the workforce after an extended break is often not an easy task. However, with a little foresight, some planning, and the tenacity to seek resources and lean on your network, you CAN make a successful workplace reentry. The right job is waiting for you; be bold enough to seek it out and seize it!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Child fire fighters
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

When you were young, people probably often asked you the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Now that you HAVE grown up, do you know the answer?

It’s okay if you don’t! It’s completely normal (and healthy) to continuously grow and change throughout the years. As our circumstances and outlook change, we might find ourselves yearning to try something new or walk down a different path. We may feel the need to modify our career aspirations, health goals, or personal ambitions.

Writer Kirra Sherman says, “There is a rich and deep aliveness that comes from following your heart, in acting on what you love despite any limitations or fears of the unknown.

If you sense that it’s time to make a change (no matter how big or small!), I encourage you to quietly sit with that thought for a while.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is holding me back?
  • What aspects of my life are no longer working for me?
  • What are my big, pie-in-the-sky goals?
  • When I envision my ideal future, what do I see?
  • When I think about the year ahead, how would I like it to go?

Jot down your thoughts–whatever comes to mind. Though they are by no means THE ultimate guide, these questions can help you pinpoint A) What is causing you dissatisfaction in your life right now and B) How you might course-correct and start working toward a better, brighter future.

Of course, these are not light questions by any means. Additionally, you may have difficulty nailing down exactly what is bothering you with your job/lifestyle/habits. If that’s the case, I urge you to get in touch with a career coach (I usually offer a complimentary 30-minute session, if you’d like to see if we’re a good match) or do a little more independent research to help you clarify your path.

It is possible you’ll discover that you feel quite lost and are floundering on where you want to go and who you want to be. If that’s the case, you may want to check out a science-based personal assessment tool such as StrengthsFinder or Insights Discovery. These tools can give you a starting point to begin the next steps in your life journey. Don’t underestimate the power of a little science-based guidance!

If, however, you have a good idea of where you’d like to go and what you’d like to become, it’s time to sit down and strategize. What steps do you need to take to reach your goals? What changes do you need to make? What sacrifices? Should you work with a coach or an accountability partner to help you get there?

As we tiptoe toward the new year, it’s the perfect time to pause and assess your life’s path. If you’re not satisfied with where you’re heading, it’s probably time to make some changes. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Plenty of coaches, therapists, support communities, and even family members are able and willing to help. Dare to take the first steps to carve out a better future!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Clouds spelling the word "Change"
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

You’ve known it for a while. You’ve been plugging along in the same old job, doing the same set of tasks for years now and you’ve simply had enough. You need a change, a fresh start. Maybe you need a change of scenery and, potentially, a new set of co-workers, colleagues, and higher-ups. Alternatively, if the pandemic has left you unemployed or furloughed, maybe it’s time to explore different career paths in entirely different industries.

Whatever the case, you’re restless and something needs to change. Soon.

But how can you make a change while everything is in flux? With the coronavirus still rampant (at least in the U.S.), it’s difficult to think about leaving your job or making a major change. That might be so, but I would argue that now is the perfect time for some deep reflection and decision-making. Even if you don’t act until after the pandemic has passed, it’s still a good idea to prepare.

Begin with intentional reflection.

Sit down with a pen and notepad, find a quiet place, and start jotting down your thoughts. Reflect and write notes about the following:

  • What do you like about your current job (or the last job you had)? What do you dislike about it?
  • What were some of your favorite tasks/assignments? When did you shine or feel fulfilled?
  • What are five things your next job needs to have?
  • What are your talents? How could these skillsets be put to better use?
  • What are some alternative career paths you’ve considered? (Dare to dream!)

Once you’ve thought about your preferences, skills, and dreams, you may want to consider a deeper exploration.

Sometimes, we’re not always the best judges of ourselves and our own talents. Sometimes, it’s best to use outside help or a trusted tool to uncover the root of who we are and where we excel. One of my favorite evaluation tools is Insights Discovery (and Insights Deeper Discovery). This science-based assessment can help you identify your communication preferences, your preferred work atmosphere, how to define your “living legacy,” and the potential areas that need improvement/attention.

As a licensed practitioner of Insights Discovery, I’ve worked with a wide range of people to help them unearth their core aptitudes and preferences, and to define their path, going forward (For more information about Insights, please visit my website). If you’d like to have a conversation about Insights Discovery, please feel free to send me a note.

Once you have a good handle on where you’d like to take your career (and life!), it’s time to start planning.

Start thinking about your next steps by asking yourself future-oriented questions:

  • What additional training will you need in order to step into your ideal career? What might that entail on a practical level (online courses, additional education or certificates, etc.)?
  • How much do you know about your dream job? Is additional research necessary?
  • Do you know anyone in that role? If so, could you set up an informational interview?
  • How much time might it take to make the transition? Will you (and your family) be fine with a period of income uncertainty?

Even though it may be difficult to think about your next steps during such an uncertain and volatile time, it is a good idea to do so. Planning can help you take some measure of control of your future, and it can re-energize you and give you hope. And, once the dust has settled, you’ll have a full-fledged plan that you can put to work. I believe in you!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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