Practical Advice for Starting a New Career After Divorce

New career after divorce

Divorce is a time of transition, which can bring about changes in your professional life as much as it can in your personal life. Perhaps you are one of the ones, like many, who have decided that a fresh start is in order across the board, which includes changing careers and exploring a field you are truly passionate about. Or maybe you haven’t been gainfully employed for a long time or ever because you were raising children but now want to or must return to professional work.

The reason why you are starting a new career at this juncture really doesn’t matter. Starting a new career after divorce may feel scary and overwhelming regardless, which can then quickly translate into feelings of discouragement. But fear not: Many separated or recently divorced individuals have changed or begun new careers, and while it can require a lot of time and effort, it can be a pathway to the life you envision. Here are a few ideas about how to begin the process.

Rally the troops.

In other words, find a support system. Having people in your corner can do wonders for your morale and confidence. So before you even begin to peruse job offerings or seeding that startup idea, make sure you have a support system in place — family, friends, or a qualified career coach — who knows you are about to begin this process and can help you with anything from a kind word to concrete career advice.

Navigating the divorce process while learning new skills, applying for jobs, caring for your family, and caring for yourself can be a lot. But much better in the company of those who want to see you succeed.

Assess what you know.

When you are in the process of freshening up your résumé for the first time in years or altering it to fit a new field, it may be discouraging to visualize a gap of years, even decades. The appearance of white space may cause you to fear that you will never get hired because, while you don’t have experience, your contemporaries do. You think: Who would want me?

Imposter syndrome is a confidence killer, so look it straight in the eyes and kick that nasty girl or guy to the curb. Today. The first thing you need to recognize, full stop, is that you have so much to offer to a potential employer. Your only challenge now is how to catalog everything you have done and continue to do in your day-to-day life, labeling specific tasks as skills that will appeal to a prospective employer.

Pro tip: Everyone has a story. What is yours? While you may not have learned skills via a traditional route, i.e., in an office setting, you likely haven’t been living under a rock either. So, with that out in the open, what experiences have you had that set you apart? Where did you grow your:

  • Organizational skills?
  • Management skills?
  • Interpersonal skills?
  • Logistical skills?
  • Accounting/bookkeeping skills?

Speak or write down your story first. That PTO fundraiser you conceived of and executed last March may just be the wealth of experience you didn’t realize you had. It is also likely the tip of the iceberg as to the experience you have.

Tailor your résumé and existing experiences to your new career.

Once you have completed the last step, turn to your résumé. By this point, you should have come up with a list of numerous, potentially marketable experiences. Now it is time to pick and choose which you would like to feature on your résumé. Your decision should turn on which experiences illustrate best the skills you can apply to your desired career.

The key is to spin those seemingly unrelated experiences you had in the past to fit your future and targeted career, further demonstrating that you have transferable skills that can work in various settings. Your versatility and vision make you more of an asset than you probably realize.

Seek out new experiences for your résumé.

Your résumé is not set in stone, so keep working on improving your skills, even as you look for work. Just the fact you are constantly trying to better yourself makes you an asset. Employers just love lifelong learners. But don’t do it for them; do it for you.

Consider continuing your education to learn relevant skills for your chosen career path. This may entail going back to school to finish your degree, earning an additional degree, or becoming certified in a related area.

Not only does going back to school give you the opportunity to add to your résumé, but it offers you the opportunity to network. From networking with fellow students casually to attending more structured events, you can glean advice and ideas, maybe a lead on a job. You may likewise be in a position to help someone else. Creating goodwill with others is priceless.

If formal schooling isn’t on the table, you always have the option of teaching yourself new skills, such as digital marketing or computer programming. The options for learning independently are limitless. It will take time, but educating yourself demonstrates to potential employers that in addition to reaching your end goal, whatever that may be, you are a self-starter and ambitious.

Last but certainly not least, you can create new experiences for yourself by taking jobs in unrelated positions (no one would ever fault you for working to pay your bills and keep food on the table), exploring new hobbies (great discussion points in interviews) or revisiting old ones, and volunteering for causes you believe in. All of these pursuits demonstrate to prospective employers that you are dynamic and care about others. That you are someone who they would not only want to work with but would also want to know.

Believe in yourself.

Starting a new career is no easy feat. It is a long game, so best to realize and embrace this reality from the beginning. Unless you are super lucky, you will have to create your own luck by applying to many jobs. Think a job is just out of reach? Apply anyway. Believe in yourself. Because if you can’t, it is unlikely the right employer — the one you want to work for — will.

Find a Seattle family law attorney with the educational resources to help prepare you for life post-divorce.

At Elise Buie Family Law, our team of divorce and family lawyers take a holistic approach to divorce. While preparing you for and guiding you through the divorce process, we can also provide you with educational resources to put you on a path toward stability post-divorce. We care about our clients’ long-term well-being and want to see them succeed. We want this for you. Call us today.  

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