Do you want to try a new career, but are worried that you might not enjoy it? It’s something many people are considering these days.
Workingmums.co.uk’s latest annual survey showed 65% of working mums were interested in retraining and almost a third had retrained in the last year. A One Poll survey of 1,000 over 25 year olds released this week found that three quarters would like to have the opportunity to sample a new career just to see if they would like it.
Chartered psychologist Lucy Standing thinks that appetite for change is unlikely to diminish in our increasingly insecure, fast-changing world of work.
She is launching a website this autumn which she claims will be the only site to give anyone the opportunity to try a new career for a day.
Viewvo already has around 85 people signed up. Lucy says reading about another job is not the same as doing it. “If you want to ride a bike you have to do it, not watch it,” she says. “There is a dearth in the market of support for people who are going to need to change their career.”
She is building a bank of people who will offer people the opportunity of shadowing them in their job for a day. “It started off with a friend who sold their business last year. They had always had a dream to run a bed and breakfast in the Lake District. I said before he did it he should spend one day with my brother,” she says. Several years ago Lucy herself had worked at the hotel with her brother and the two had managed to turn what had been a failing hotel around in just 18 months.
Her friend sat in on meetings with staff and worked on the budget. At the end of the day he had a more realistic perception of what the job involved and in the end decided it was not for him. “If he had not had that level of experience he would have gone for it with a false sense of optimism,” says Lucy. “We don’t want to burst people’s dreams, but it is important that they walk into a new career with their eyes wide open and that they receive sensible, warts and all advice from people who are actually doing the job.”
In addition to her entrepreneurial work, Lucy is vice chair of the Association of Business Psychology and is keen to make the organisation more successful and modern. “Business psychology is a little bit outdated a as a discipline,” she says.
“There is so much it could contribute, for instance, to our understanding of how people engage with websites or how they might interact with robots. It needs to be more agile and open.”
Her role includes accrediting masters programmes and courses. She thinks students are very unprepared for the world of work, especially how competitive it is, saying employers are more likely to hire a freelance on a flexible basis than to give a new graduate a traineeship.
She points to research that shows that those who are more open to new experiences tend to be more intelligent and more able to ask questions, learn new things and adapt their skills to new challenges.
She says employers are looking for people who are highly creative, but also highly conscientious and ready to graft. “That is the mark of a very agile company,” she says. She wonders whether the education system is keeping up with the huge tide of change occurring in the workplace, with more and more professionals working freelance and competing in a global marketplace.
Another big change is the increasing number of mums in the workplace. Lucy, who used to head up graduate recruitment for Chase Manhattan Bank (later JP Morgan), went part time after her daughter was born then freelance after her second daughter was stillborn. She got pregnant with her son soon after and threw herself into the hotel work with her brother. She also started building up her freelance work. However, after a while Lucy, who has three children now, aged 12, nine and seven, found that she was getting a lot of similar work – doing executive assessments and training courses. She wanted to take a step back and do something different. She knew she was quite entrepreneurial – the hotel success had shown her that – and she had a supportive husband so felt she could afford to try something new.
She hopes to launch Viewvo in the autumn. Lucy is very much a work life integration person and says that her work and family life fit round each other.
As a freelance, she used to pretend that she was working in a traditional office, but she has grown more confident about the fact that, for instance, her children may be off sick while she is working. “I’m very professional and I feel I have demonstrated my commitment,” she says, “so I can be more honest. And it is becoming more the norm that people are working in this way.”
The world of work is changing, she says. It’s not just the way we work, but what we do and the fact that more and more of us want to try different careers. She hopes she can help them make informed choices about doing so.
To find out more about Viewvo, click here.