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    Mums At Work

    Are you about to become a mother? Are you a mum wanting to get back to work? Not sure what to do?  Struggling to find the right balance?

    We can help you find the answers to your many questions. We can also help you to make it happen through our range of services and support:


    10 Ways to Explore Your Options Effectively

    One of the hardest things for us to do is to project our experience and skills onto a new career that would be exciting enough for us to pursue. This article looks at various avenues that we may want to take.

    1. Believe in Yourself

    When you go into exploring your career options try your best to open up. One of the things that is really hindering is our limiting self belief. If we carry those limited beliefs with us we are throwing obstacles into the path before we even start our journey.

    2. Open Your Eyes

    If you don’t open your eyes how are you going to know what’s out there? How are you going to know how useful your skill base might be? There is a world of opportunity in work that is changing very fast – blink and you’ll miss it.

    3. Assess Your Asset Base

    What is your asset base? Somehow you have to make an assessment of just what it is you have got that has value. Noting patterns in our past achievements is valuable but often we are not able to see those patterns. Patterns connect us between the things we have done and how those experiences can be used.

    4. Find Advocates

    You know you can do xyz, but who else says so? Out in that world there’s someone who believes we’ll be good at something, brilliant at something. If we can get that endorsement, how can we use it best?

    5. Have a Brainstorming Session

    You need that asset base assessment from #3 in order to brainstorm. Brainstorming around your career options is a fundamental element of smartly exploring those options. The only question you’re answering with your brainstorm is, “What could I do?” Some ideas are going to b very obvious to us. Some things might be crazy and some might be between obvious and crazy. Some might be hybrids of obvious and crazy that could be quite useful for us to consider. We should be looking for lots of options to be developed. 20 to 30 is a good target for us.

    6. Accept Realities

    If brainstorming is about dreams, you have to also bring the practical reality of our world into the exploration of your career options. What are the things that need to be considered? Every one of us has those constraints. They all unique to us and the situation we find ourselves in now. Money, mortgages, family, children’s education, health and many other things as well. Some of these are big issues for us, some more marginal. One thing that’s for sure is that we definitely need to bring them into play.

    7. Start Eliminating Options

    How to think of the options we’ve created during our brainstorm in the context of our practical realities? We can work towards integrating the two groups by eliminating the options that don’t fit in with the reality of our situation. We can’t go any further in this process without being clear about what it is we are trying to do.

    8. Take Your Time

    This process takes some time. You do not want to rush it because it’s very important. For some it’s crystal clear but our professional life is never less than important to us and therefore deserves to have enough time invested in it.

    9. Look at the Big Picture

    When you’re considering career options you have to recognise the convergence of several elements that are part of this process. Exploring options can’t be done in isolation; understanding your asset base cannot be done in isolation from practical realities and so on.

    10.  Get Support

    When you pose the question “can I go this alone?” The answer is no, but no on two different levels. The first level is that you can’t do this process without getting input from others such as old friends, mentors and network connections. The second level relates to your decision to get some professional help and support throughout this process. We’ll leave you to decide whether you want that but it helps to note that the world of employment is getting tougher and things are changing fast.

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    10 Key Considerations When Starting Your Second Career 

    Whether you’re starting the second phase of your career following a break, getting another job on top of your current one or setting up a business while continuing to work for the time being, it’s not something that you can just walk into overnight. Starting a second career requires much preparation and planning. Here are 10 things to consider as you get going.

    You may also want to sign up to our Reinventing Your Career webinar coming up at the end of June.

    Look at Your Capabilities

    Think your capabilities through. Look at what you can bring to the party. Think about what it is you’re trying to do. It seems a simple question to ask yourself but think about what the end game is. What is the end point of this?

    What’s Your Idea?

    In order for you to start coming up with ideas for a business or new career, you have to be clear on what it is you’re trying to achieve. Once you know this, it’ll be easier to brainstorm ideas.

    Have a Plan 

    It’s important to practice preparedness. There is so much to think about. For instance, we need to think about any new skills we’re going to need and how we’re going to acquire them. It’s really beneficial to think about this as early as possible so that you have the time to work out how you’re going approach your second career in parallel with whatever it is you’re currently doing, whether it’s another job or bringing up your children.

    Get Support

    Look at the support network that you’re going to need to make this work. The ways you’re going to tap into this network will have been planned over quite a long time, if you’re smart. Launching a second career is not just about executing an idea; it’s also about using the people around you.

    Work Out Your Finances

    Don’t forget the key issue of economic return. Think about how much you need to be earning in order to generate a worthwhile income from your second career. 

    Assess Your Assets

    We need to consider our skills and experiences and how those help us. When we’re dealing with the idea of launching a second career, we’ll have a certain level of fear but we can gain self-confidence by reminding ourselves of what we’re good at and what we’ve overcome and achieved in the past.

    Pick the Right People

    If you’ve decided to start a business as your second career, you have to decide who you’re going to run it with, if anyone. Are you going to go solo or are you going to go into business with another person or a group of people? Do you want to work with friends? The answer to this is usually no. Boundaries need to be drawn clearly for everybody and they need to be redrawn at regular intervals. A business partnership can be a career minefield and any ensuing explosions may well create great stress if contingency plans haven’t been put in place from the start.

    Take Your Time

    If you’ve been spending a lot of time parenting and are now looking to fill that time with your second career instead, step into it tentatively and prepare for new routines that both you and your children will have to adapt to. It’s really worthwhile just getting used to leaving your children with somebody else by doing so for the odd day or so here and there before you start your new career in earnest.

    Think About Presentation

    Take a long, hard look at your clothing, shoes and accessories. Smarten yourself up in terms of your appearance so that you’ll be treated like the professional you are, right from the start.

    Do Your Research

    How much deep-dive homework can you do to get into the swim? When you were working full time it was second nature to know all about, say, project management. If you’re returning from a career break, what do you need to know about the changes in the world of project management? Also research how you’re going to telegraph to others what you’re doing. Don’t feel alone but instead seek out people who seem important to your field and who are able to support you in your new endeavour.

    About the author

    Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies which created the Career Ignition Club, a leading-edge online careers support and learning platform. Follow him @PosIgnition

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    Finding Alternative Funding Options to Pay For Your Career

    If you are considering a career change there are many avenues and options which you need to consider. How you will fund it is one. Thanks to TotalProfessions, they have shared with us initially their thoughts around how to get funding via loans or by getting your company to fund you through your studies. Here are some alternative places to look for funding:

    Research Councils

    Research Councils are government-funded agencies that support research in a wide range of disciplines, including medical and biological sciences, chemistry and engineering, social science, economics and the arts and humanities. In total, the seven research councils invest around £3 billion in research each year.  The Research Councils offer a range of awards, including Advanced Course Studentships and Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE), and the minimum stipend available is around £13,500 (tax free). To find out more about Research Council funding, including eligibility criteria, click here and follow the link to the relevant Research Council.

    Public funding bodies

    There are also a range of alternative sources of funding offered by the public sector. These sources include:

    Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS)

    SAAS runs the Postgraduate Students’ Allowances Scheme (PSAS) which offers funding for professional and vocational training. While the awards are only available for Scottish students, successful applicants may study anywhere in the UK.

    Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DELNI)

    DELNI provides funding for students who wish to undertake postgraduate study in the Humanities, Science and Technology and Social Sciences as well as full-time vocational courses in Northern Ireland.

    European Social Fund (ESF)

    The ESF supports a number of vocational courses in the UK, allocating funding to departments who then pass on a small training allowance to their students.

    Funding for disabled people

    If you have a disability, an ongoing health condition, a mental health condition or a specific learning difficulty and would like to study a higher education course you may be eligible for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).

    If the funding options above don’t apply to you, you can search for available postgraduate funding by subject area via the Prospects website.  For example, if you select ‘Chemical Engineering’, a range of results are generated, such as the Grundy Educational Trust.

    If postgraduate qualifications aren’t for you, you may want to consider an Apprenticeship. You don’t have to pay anything to become an Apprentice – instead, your employer pays you a salary and supports you while you undertake your training.

    To find out more about entry routes into different professions visit TP’s Profession Finder Sector Summaries.

    Alice Langley is a Research Assistant at PARN (Professional Associations Research Network). PARN is a not-for-profit, membership organisation for professional bodies. PARN’s main areas of expertise are research and consultancy services, provided not only for our members, but for other professional bodies and organisations interested in the field of professionalism. To contact Alice email

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    Getting Your Employer to Fund and Sponsor Your Studies

    Employer-sponsored programmes allow individuals to advance their career without having to foot the bill. In many cases, employers will pay part or all of an employee’s fees, making it a great way of gaining a relevant qualification that will help your future prospects. What is more, the arrangement works both ways: you get to study for a qualification that will improve your performance and your long-term career progression, and your employer benefits from a more productive and better-motivated employee. However, convincing your employer to fund your study is not always easy. You need to be able to convince them that the qualification you want to undertake is worth investing in. While most graduate employers have a positive commitment to career training and development, much depends on the company you work for.

    But what if your company doesn’t have any sponsored programmes? You may still be able to convince your employer that a further qualification would be advantageous to both them and you, but you will have to make a detailed proposal that clearly demonstrates how both parties will benefit. The first person you should speak to is your line manager, but you should also be prepared to make your case to other senior members of staff. It is important that you show your manager that you have done your research, and that you have identified a range of possible options. Critically, you will need to be able to demonstrate how the qualification will fit into your longer-term career development within the company.

    While postgraduate study is a good way of boosting your career, there are other options, including undertaking shorter courses or studying for membership of a professional body. Many universities are putting more resources into short, continuous professional development programmes, often in conjunction with local employers. If none of the institutions in your area offer the course you are interested in, you may want to consider doing a distance learning course. The Open University, for example, offers a range of professional development programmes. 

    Finally, you may wish to consider taking part in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). KTPs allow graduates to work for up to three years on a project that is central to their strategic development. The programmes are run by commercial companies in partnership with ‘knowledge base’ organisations, including universities and research institutions. In return for taking part, candidates are paid a competitive salary and acquire valuable career experience.

    To find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) click here.

    Alice Langley is a Research Assistant at PARN (Professional Associations Research Network). PARN is a not-for-profit, membership organisation for professional bodies. PARN’s main areas of expertise are research and consultancy services, provided not only for our members, but for other professional bodies and organisations interested in the field of professionalism. To contact Alice email

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    Tips on Changing Careers

    The work world is rapidly evolving in recent years and itís more important than ever to evolve with it. Times have changed dramatically from when it was possible to work 40+ years for the same company, and many workers can no longer rely on the same job security that they may have enjoyed in the past. Entire industries are becoming obsolete while entirely new ones spring up seemingly overnight, with many workers faced now with the very daunting task of needing to change the career path they may have been on for all their working life.

    The single most valuable tip if you're considering a career change is to be flexible, and to try to let go of many of the notions and preconceptions you might have held in the past. One big trend in the workplace is that job definitions and boundaries are blurring more and more, with many employees asked to tackle projects outside the traditional boundaries of what an executive assistant, bookkeeper, or human resource manager might do. While your work history is important, more and more employers are looking past what's strictly listed on your resume, so donít be afraid to apply for positions that might seem far outside your past work experience.

    Change is usually scary - and rightfully so - but it's also more and more a reality of the workplace. Workers in technical positions often change employers frequently, and what matters more are your technical qualifications and skills far more than a letter of recommendation from a previous boss or a ten year plus career with a single company. Focus more on developing your skills and experience and worry less about how a particular position might look on your resume. Take a look at our 100 Essential Career Change Tips eGuide for a structured way to approach your career change.

    ALSO: Explore our Career Change Toolkit for tools to support each stage of your career change.

    Newer industries may seem like a riskier choice as opposed to a job with a mature, stable company or a government position, but the reality is that no job is truly safe in todayís age of outsourcing and never-ending drive for efficiency. Taking a risky position with an online casino company, for example, as a database administrator might seem like a gamble if you turn down a similar offer from an insurance company, but it could turn out to be a very wise decision in the end. Evaluate each potential position with clear eyes and no preconceptions, as each job is different and many industries are evolving so rapidly that past perceptions really carry no weight in today's workplace.

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