Career break to care for my dad. What now?: ask the expert

In 1999 I gave up my career in retail to become my dad’s full-time carer…he died recently, and I am at a total loss with regards to working. Over the last 15 years I have found myself with some medical conditions which now mean I can’t return to that career.  I have an anxiety disorder which makes working with people nigh on impossible and I have hernias which mean I shouldn’t lift.  I don’t drive, either, so that limits me to a certain extent also.I have no C.V. to speak of, and no idea where to begin with sorting out what I need to do next. All I know is I’m a mum firstly, so part-time and working from home sounds ideal. Any help is much appreciated.

You’re recently bereaved after years of caring for your Dad and your own health hasn’t been good for some time … you’re likely to need a very gentle, slow reintroduction into work.  At the start you probably want something fairly undemanding and steady, with the potential to serve as the launch-pad for more challenging work when you feel ready to take it on.   You sound practical, well-organised and realistic.  Right now, I’m guessing you’ll find communication by email acceptable but wouldn’t want more than occasional ‘phone or face to face contact with colleagues or customers.  I’m also guessing your IT skills are at least average (you may have been directly involved in inputting stock control, sales and accounts data in your last post).  Your written communication skills and spelling appear to be above average.

I suggest you look for records management and internet-based research work.  Suitable jobs would involve any combination of the following tasks – data entry, data cleansing, competitor-monitoring, market research via the web, commercial web content chasing, updating and rewriting customer communications and the like.

The employers most likely to offer you work will be very small, local companies with very short-term assignments to offer, small business support consultancies serving small and medium size customers and sole traders / family businesses needing someone to do all their office correspondence and record-keeping for them.  You may wish to explore whether local care sector companies need administrative support of this kind.  Get your family and friends to network on your behalf (eg with the Round Table, local trade association, etc) to find out which local companies want a “temp” or permanent employee and exactly what type of job it is.  The very small companies can be extremely flexible on individual terms and conditions once convinced you’re the right person to help them.  It can also suit very small companies to have someone working in their own home rather than squeezing into the cramped quarters of most small employers’ business premises.

Keep a “portfolio” logbook of the different jobs you’ve done for different companies (eg types of job, examples of documents created, record of thanks received for the high quality of your work and so on).  This logbook will be useful to you when you’re constructing CVs for the different jobs you may apply for.

Use a “functional” CV – not a “chronological” one – to explain the skills you can offer and any vocational qualifications and training you have.  Small employers are always far more interested in what you can do for them than in reading your personal career history.

You might like to do an online European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) course so that you have a new qualification to brandish in front of potential employers. Because you are currently unemployed you may be entitled to take this qualification at no cost to you – unfortunately (according to the National Careers Service ) you can only find out by Googling and subsequently contacting the individual training providers.  It’s possible to take the module tests without doing the studying beforehand if you feel confident of passing them.

Good luck!


Comments [1]

  • Anonymous says:

    what a helpful website! I was looking up internships and work experience as opposed to volunteering so of course all these posts for very young people were coming up, and internships in the USA! You fill an enormous gap in the market for this kind of info

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