Taking Risks and Reaping Rewards!

I became unemployed – on purpose – in December 2017 (as detailed in my blog post The Mystery of the Missing Sparkle), but this week I got the job of my dreams – a fundraising bid writer for a mental health charity!

I am overjoyed! Not only because it was an extremely robust recruitment process so I feel proud for being successful through all the different stages, but mostly I feel vindicated by my decison to NOT SETTLE for a non-perfect job (for me) under any circumstances.

Throughout my brief unemployment (of 6 weeks) I had a persistent feeling things would be ok if I was brave enough to hold my nerve; it was the ultimate game of call my bluff except I was playing against myself! I’m not a risk taker by nature and I haven’t ever been unemployed in my entire adult life but thankfully it paid off!

Following Sarah Knight‘s ‘keys + phone + wallet’ advice in Get Your Sh*t Together* (reviewed here by Bodies in the Library), I devised a step-by-step strategy:

  • Honestly appraised my skills, likes and dislikes. For example, I ADORE English but I want to be able to enjoy using it in a job, not for it to be prescriptive, as it was in teaching. I disliked evening and weekend workloads on top of my working day so I was certain about teaching not being right for me anymore.
  • Thought carefully about the job I really wanted – the field of employment, the type of organisation I wanted to work for, the hours I could comfortably commit to and, of course, the work I actually wanted to do, and could do well.
  • Researched jobs which encompassed my skills, likes, dislikes and job preferences then set up job alerts using a variety of key words on indeed to ensure I was notified of new opportunities straightaway.
  • Deleted all my previous job applications – a new career demanded a completely fresh approach, not a cut and paste collage!
  • Ensured I followed the application instructions to the letter after I had found the right job for me. The multi-paged application form was extremely specific and asked for concrete examples of how I met the essential and desirable criterias. I was thorough in tailoring my answers and experience to the organisation as well as spell checking and proof-reading extremely carefully before submission.
  • Had a buffer in the bank. With an impending house renovation, I was worried about eating into our renovation budget so although I frequently considered the cluster approach and applying for a few jobs at once, it would have actually caused more anxiety by splitting my focus and possibly resulting in being offered a job my heart wasn’t truly invested in, that I may have accepted for the wrong reasons (as has happened in the past!).

Following submission of my application, I got through to the telephone interview stage, after which I received an email inviting me to the face-to-face interview stage. In the interim I was also asked to complete a pre-interview piece of formal writing as well as a few online psychometric tests (which were anxiety-inducing – no right or wrong answers but plenty of second guessing myself!).

On the day of the face-to-face interview itself, I was asked to complete a proof-reading exercise before being interviewed by a panel of two. Although I had been confident in my abilites during all the practical tasks, I was nervous in the interview and thought I waffled on a bit! I’m so much more articulate on paper/screen!

However, despite my perceived waffling, I was offered the job the very next morning! My overwhelming emotion was pride – pride in myself for putting in the proper groundwork for a successful change of career, pride in myself for not giving in to my ingrained anxiety and applying for jobs I could do but would not truly love, and pride in myself for continuing to hope for better despite the traumas of last year.

I am so happy to say I am now a writer (my actual job is to WRITE!!!) for a MENTAL HEALTH charity! I honestly cannot think of anything that could please me more.

Have you ever radically changed careers? How? Why? I’d love to know more!

*Interestingly, Sarah Knight also edited one of my favourite ever books – Dark Places by Gillan Flynn. Just a little recommendation for you there!



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