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Coach Suzanne Bourne gives some advice on how to find work if you are a carer. Fifth in her series for Carers Week 2019.
Many carers are keen to continue working or to return to work, motivated by a number of factors:
● Financial independence for now and the future
● The opportunity for connection and community outside of the caring situation
● Fulfilment and purpose
● Maintaining skills and industry knowledge
The possibilities around working and caring will depend on your individual situation and may require some creativity and fresh thinking. New doors to unexpected opportunities may be opening.
A first step might be to work with your employer to make your role more carer friendly; flexible hours, working from home and reduced hours may all help. If this is not possible with your current role are there other roles available, or in the pipeline, that might work better?
Narrowing down a job search can seem counter-intuitive, but before exhausting yourself with endless job applications take some time to focus on what is right for you:
● Actively seek out employers that offer flexible working and family/carer friendly policies.
● Location might be important; a shorter commute or even working from home would keep you close at hand if this is relevant
● Review your transferable skills – caring will have added to these
● Identify what you really want from work and what is important to you.
Over 100 organisations are members of Employers for Carers. These organisations will understand the business benefits of supporting the unpaid carers they employ and are setting the standard for being carer friendly.
Step back for a moment and look at the skills and personal qualities that are shining through your caring.
● Organisation skills; managing time, research, paper work and people
● Crisis management
● Listening skills, listening to your loved ones and others in similar situations that you have come across on your caring journey
● Advocacy, standing up for what you know is right, representing your loved one’s best interests
● Exposure to campaigning, fundraising and the benefits system
● Lived experience – your experience as a carer will be unique and highly valued by charities and organisations supporting people in similar situations.
Would it be great to be in a busy environment where lots is going on and you feel part of a connected community? Or perhaps you need a calmer, quieter balance to your life? Is this a time to be intellectually stretched? Where will you find satisfaction and fulfilment – perhaps in receiving a pay packet, in being creative, in knowing you are making a difference or simply being able to see the fruits of your labour at the end of a working day?
If you are returning to work after a period of caring contact your local carers support centre to see what support is available. You may be referred to local employability programmes and job clubs that offer free tailored support. This is also a great time to work 1-1 with a coach to build confidence and momentum as you return to your career.
Working for yourself might give you the freedom and flexibility you need. This could be running your own business, taking on a franchise opportunity or working as a freelancer. Your work life could be made up of a combination of part-time roles or self-employment opportunities. Go ahead and dream a little – perhaps an unexpected opportunity is opening up.
Do be realistic about finances though. Hourly rates when you are self-employed will need to be considerably higher than an employer would pay you. You will be responsible for your own holiday pay, sick pay, insurance, pension, tax and National Insurance.