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Recession era silver lining: second careers for working moms (and dads)

Feel like a kid again
Feel like a kid again
Photo by jacarino/stockxchng

Referring to the metro Detroit job market, a former colleague who lost his job in the current recession said, "It's dead out there right now."

But rather than wait for the economy to rebound for the perfect job to open up, he's taken matters into his own hands.  Instead of solving engineering problems at the corporate level, he's learning how to fix engineering problems in the home as a general contractor.  Originally intended to fill the gap between jobs, he enjoys working on his own so much he considers it a second career as a business owner.

Many downsized employees, especially those affected by the auto industry in the Detroit area, are using this period as an opportunity to transform their skills into a second career.

From my own experience as a career-changer, here are a few benefits of transitioning into a second career.

New skills and challenges

When you work for a large company, you tend to get associated with a specific set of skills that become part of your identity.  With a second career, you have the freedom to break out of that box and nurture skills that weren't being used.  The challenges that come with developing a new set of skills can be invigorating for someone who's been doing the same thing for years.

More fulfilling work

We often stay in jobs because we don't want to put our families at risk of reduced income.  However, if you've been downsized and financial resources allow, there's no better time to explore areas that ignite a passion.  Because the "work" turns you on, it becomes self-motivating.  Self-motivation makes it easier to overcome obstacles to earning income or acquiring future employment.

Fun of risk-taking

Even though they often state otherwise, the "play-it-safe" mentality often rules in larger companies.  If you worked for a large corporation and plan to do something completely different, second careers allow you to think like a kid again and engage in some derring-do (if that's your thing).  You don't need to feel hemmed in by written documentation that guides a lot of corporate behavior.

Enhanced marketability

Even if your attempt at creating a second career is temporary (especially if it's home-based), you'll build up new skills that enhance marketability in a future job search.  Employers will be impressed if you use this time to expand your skills and abilities, and may look at that as a real positive when considering you for a position. 

If you've been down-sized, have you considered using this time as an opportunity to pursue a second career?  Pursue a passion?  Work differently?  Generate different sources of income?  Feel free to comment below. 

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  • David Peterson 5 years ago

    Great article Pam. I am one of those "Dad's" who was downsized in the auto/economy slump last year. There truly has been a "silver lining" for me due to this temporary situation.

    I was fortunate to be called by a former colleague of mine who was downsized the same day as me and who recently acquired a new position as Marketing Manager to do some Public Relations and Marketing consulting work for her. It has been a great source of income for us and has allowed me the opportunity to brush up some of the skills I haven't used in a while.

    This situation has also allowed me to play "Mr. Mom" and spend more quality time with our children which had been lacking prior to losing my job.

    It is still a stressful time and I do spend many hours at the library researching and applying for jobs ... but having that second career and knowing I have options does bring some relief. I recommend it to anyone who is in the mode of "what do I do now"? Like the Nike phrase states - Just Do It!

  • Pam Houghton 5 years ago

    David - that is a great story. I'm so glad you shared it.

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