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Relaunch your Career: planned happenstance, personal brand and values, inspiring stories and so much more…

This sell-out event was attended by wise women from Nottingham, London, Dublin and just down the road – all keen to relaunch their careers.  Many intend to return to work after a career break, others want to change career direction, most planned to do both.  After a long wait, our time had finally arrived.

First up Katie Perry who isn’t a pop star but has had a much more interesting career path.  By embracing planned happenstance, she’s gradually transformed from physics PhD student to CEO for the Daphne Jackson Trust which assists professionals returning to all sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.  In her current role, she’s streamlined the fellowship application process so it’s not as long and the number of fellowships have increased – does this have anything to do with Katie doing karate?

Next up Tennie Videler.  Always entertaining but I didn’t think I’d learn anything as I knew my values, or so I thought.  After a few questions on what we’d enjoyed most and least in our lives, Tennie described 7 key values (not including lifestyle “which isn’t a value – you just have to make your life fit”).  Small changes in emphasis compared to the careers workbook I’d previously completed but wow, what a difference! My main career driver became crystal clear!

‘If there’s one thing you take away from today, it’s to create a LinkedIn profile’.  Having uploaded mine ahead of the meeting, I sat smugly as Judit Molnar and Julia Bardos explained how to make the most of our networks.  The take home message for me was that networking can be fun and that I already had networks I needed to explore more.  I also appreciate preparing an elevator pitch makes sense, even if you’re not the sort of person who can produce a business card (which we should all have) in a sauna!

Panel discussion next.  Morven Spalding and Liz Davis-Smith (Opito) tell us that the oil and gas industry is crying out for people with our skills (analytic abilities of biologists included!).  We just need to get past the macho male stereotype that is associated with the sector – it’s not all hard hats and offshore!

Fiona Nielsen explained that she founded the charity, DNAdigest to help medical researchers access genomic information that is already known but not in the public domain.  Quietly spoken and very pragmatic, Fiona is not the usual sort I associate with “going it alone”.  Inspiring.

When setting up her business nearly ten years ago, Jenny Koenig, a pharmacologist, looked at her skills and saw a need for teaching maths to bioscientists.  She seems to have her ear close to the web and is good at aligning her direction to gaps in the market.  Many entrepreneurs sought her out after her session, eager for more.

After networking over a lunch of wraps, samosas, grapes and figs, we settled back into our cosy seats prepared to sell ourselves.  A few of us were having difficulty finding our USP and defining our brand.  Belinda Coaten suggested asking people who know us well for feedback.  She also recommended ‘Strengths Finder’ by Tony Rath, available in all good bookshops.  Apparently, we should market ourselves using a model based on Philip Kotler’s famous archery target  .  If you’re starting to feel like a can of economy beans, remember the messages we say to ourselves affect us externally, so repeat “I am from the Finest range” ten times.

Katherine Stalham explained that your CV profile is equivalent to your elevator pitch (remember that from earlier).  It should explain who you are, your experience, key skills and why the employer should read on.  Like the rest of your CV, it should be full of authentic, positive action words and be refined for each application.  Anne Clarke suggested keeping a long CV containing everything you’ve done so relevant bits can be extracted quickly when you spot an advert for a dream job.  Remember though only 5% of jobs are found this way!

Esther Bennett explained that many professional bodies provide information relevant to returners and offer reduced rates.  If you earn less than £12,500, the Institute of Physics’ rate is £15/year (£10 if you pay by direct debit).  A bargain and, as many of their resources are general, useful even if you’re not a physicist!

In summing up, Anne Clarke suggested all meeting up at the CAMAWiSE Christmas networking event on 10th December.  I’m hoping for dainty mince pies, some networking tips and hearing all about those new jobs!  Now where’s my action plan…

Jane Murphy

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