I did a short video for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment last week as part of National Careers Week. In the video I talked about working with people to help them identify and market their transferable skills to new jobs and new employers. I also spoke about the importance of having the knowledge and skills to make good career decisions rather than making one career choice for life (which I think a lot of people, especially young people, feel the need to do).
I wanted to follow that short video with this blog for ADF partners. I’ve been an ADF partner for a long time now and like many of you I’ve had a lot of changes in career direction in that time. Sometimes I had to make difficult career choices (do I leave this job I love to go with my husband on posting?) and other times I feel the choices were made for me (like when I couldn’t get childcare and my husband’s work was inflexible). I’ve struggled with some thoughts and feelings over the years such as feeling like I didn’t have a career, that I should have achieved more by “now”, that my career was second fiddle to my husband’s and that I didn’t have enough control over my career decisions. I also struggled with other people making assumptions about my career aspirations or level of ability and ambition based on what I was doing for a job in that particular moment. All really legitimate thoughts and feelings when you consider the impact working (or not working) has on survival, social connection, sense of purpose and direction etc.
When I decided that I wanted to “do something” about partner employment and I studied career development it was a game-changer for me. When I was exposed to the concept that our careers aren’t about climbing a corporate ladder but are about the work, learning and leisure activities that we engage in throughout our lifetimes it reframed how I thought about my own career. But I couldn’t help but think how helpful it would have been for me personally to have had professional career support (I didn’t even know it existed!) to help me address my concerns, reframe my thinking and give me tools to help me make better career decisions.
I know from working with clients that I’m far from the only one who has felt really down about their careers at times. So I want to say to you –– be proud of everything you’ve done. Value what you have done in your personal and professional roles. Recognize that the skills and attributes that you have gained over the years are valued in many different roles and that even if you are going in a brand new direction you are not starting from scratch. Careers are very individual –– don’t compare yourself to others.
There are some systemic employment challenges associated with being an ADF partner and I don’t shy away from the need to address them (addressing them is a core part of what I do). But there are things you can do to manage your own career. If you are struggling with negative feelings about your career, if you’re feeling lost, if you want a change of direction, or are working toward promotion, want to set achievable career goals, or you need guidance with job searching then seek the services of a qualified career practitioner. You don’t have to do this alone! Remember, it’s never too late to try something new. Every day is a fresh opportunity.
Read more about the value of career development support here.
To search for a career development practitioner start here.
For information on funding professional career development support through Defence’s Partner Employment Assistance program click here.