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Showcase your soft skills and secure a job

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Returning to work after time off to raise a family can be daunting in itself, let alone changing careers while you’re at it! This is exactly what single mum Katie Thomas decided to do, making the switch from hairdressing to finance, and she has never looked back.

Sometimes the transition to parenthood can mean that certain jobs are just not feasible. The hours may clash with school pick up or it may be an industry that relies heavily on weekend work.

We spoke to Katie about the moment she realised her 10 year career as a hairdresser was not going to fit with her new life as a parent. She explains how evaluating her availability, her transferable skills and identifying the skills that she was lacking, helped her to devise a return to work action plan.

Step 1: Evaluate what is most important to you
This could be location, office hours or even the flexibility of working from home. Whatever it is, use it to help you take the first steps toward returning to work. If location is important to you, it may be useful to check what types of jobs are on offer in your local area.

Katie found this a great starting point:

“I literally put into SEEK, ‘jobs in my area.’ I went through the results checking which industries had more jobs available and which jobs fit the hours I was searching for. This helped a lot when making my career move.”

Step 2: Decide on the best industry for you
Whether you are returning to work in the same industry or entering a new one, it is important to decide if it is right for you now your situation has changed. Think about the bigger picture – are some of your skills transferable across multiple industries? Katie was able to use her relationship management skills, interpersonal skills and organisational skills she gained from her career as a hairdresser to enhance her new career in finance.

It’s hard, it’s confusing, and it’s a crazy transition, but it works out for the best in the end.

Step 3: Get the right qualifications
Once you’ve decided to re-enter the workforce, it is helpful to find out what qualifications you may need. Requirements could have changed since you were last employed. Good news for anyone considering a career move: online education options are better than ever before, allowing you to fit study into your life. This means you can get to where you want to be, sooner.

Step 4: Prepare for personal questions
Now you’ve got the qualifications, the next step is job applications. Be prepared to discuss your family situation during job interviews. Katie explains, “I found a lot of the interview process was explaining my personal life, not my qualifications.” It is important to be positive and come to the interview with a can-do attitude. Show your potential employer you are reliable and your personal life will not affect how hard you work.

Step 5: Enter the workforce and find your balance
It can be a challenging adjustment, but if you follow a plan like Katie, your transition will be smoother and more beneficial for your family. Katie states, “It’s hard, it’s confusing, and it’s a crazy transition, but it works out for the best in the end.”

If you need help deciding on a career move that is right for you, chat to one of our Course Consultants to discuss your online course options today.

How can you best showcase your soft skills in an interview?

The Next Step’s Talent Acquisition Specialist, Lisa Hammond, says that soft skills are the type of attributes that are more appropriate to bring up in an interview than on a resume. Most importantly, it is all about how you position your skills to a potential employer.

“Anyone who has run a household or perhaps managed a home renovation has great project management skills. They might not be certified in project management but it is around those soft skills like time management, managing multiple stakeholders, networking, communication skills influencing and negotiation. These can be done in any part of our lives.”

“There are lots of interpersonal skills that are transferable in a workplace, it is about how you position them,” explains Lisa.

Be prepared

When it comes to skills like problem solving or teamwork, employers will often ask you to explain a scenario where you have shown your strength in these areas. Think about honest and positive examples to share, and have a few up your sleeve in case they ask a couple of similar questions.

Show, don’t tell

Communication can be a buzzword in the world of job hunting. Employers want team members who have good written and oral communication skills. So, make sure your resume and cover letter are well-written and you are organised, prepared and communicate clearly with your interviewer. It’s no use saying you are a great communicator if you don’t nail these basics!

Demonstrate adaptability

When you join a new team it is always nice to bring your knowledge and ideas to the table. But it’s equally important to show employers that you are keen to learn and demonstrate adaptability in the workplace. This will tell them you are always striving to grow and able to adapt to any changes the organisation will go through.