How To Find a Job While on a Career Break
I felt like this scene was a video caught in a loop as I planned my career break for the year leading up to my departure. It was nice that everyone was concerned about my well-being, but every time someone asked that question, it tied my stomach in yet another knot.
I didn’t know the beauty of ‘not knowing’ then. I was still in my ‘I must be in control’ mode. Slowly my traveling career break peeled away each hyper-planning layer of my personality and left me with delicious ambiguity.
It was that delicious ambiguity that helped me land my next job while I was on my career break. Yes – that’s right, my career break actually helped me find my next job(s).
An expat friend I had met while traveling heard I used to work at a luxury handbag company prior to becoming a career breaker. Upon hearing this she decided she should introduce me to two women who had started CAMENAE , an Italian luxury handbag business managed out of Singapore and Saigon. (Actually the manufacturing is all done in Italy, but the owners live in Singapore and Saigon!)
We all met for a very simple ‘get-to-know-you’ coffee in Singapore as I was passing through and simply discussed the industry. Nothing came of that meeting, and honestly I didn’t want it to as I was still traveling and had no intention of working at that time. But, 2 months later when I was about to head back to America with no plan of what I was going to do next, I sent a simple note to the women asking how the launch went. This kicked off a flurry of emails and eventually they asked if I would be interested in doing some consulting work for them. A small consulting job that I wasn’t looking for, landed in my lap. Delicious Ambiguity!
I’ve now been working for the women of CAMENAE running their website and helping them with digital marketing for 2 years now. I can do the job from anywhere in the world and it takes about 20 hrs a month of my time. From that relationship, another work relationship was born when they introduced me to other expats in SE Asia who wanted a little IT work done and I landed other small short-term jobs such as doing photography and creating www.Auraliya.com, a villa rental website in Sri Lanka.
This part time work allows me to work on other things I love such as Briefcase to Backpack! Plus, I get some perks when it comes to handbags…and who doesn’t love that – especially when they look like this!
Sure, maybe I got lucky finding connections for work while I was on the road, but I believe that it was more than luck. Here’s a few tips on what you can do while on your career break to network for work opportunities when your break is over.
• Traveling around the world is all about making connections; connections with other cultures and other travelers. In fact – you are sort of spending a year networking…but in a very fun sense of the word!
• Keep your resume updated…in fact, update it before you leave on your trip.
• Create some personal name cards with your name and contact information to give out to people you meet while traveling.
• As you meet people while traveling be sure to ask them what they do, you may be surprised at people who you have access to that you never would at home. After all CEO’s travel too.
• Have your story ready. You will encounter people all the time who will ask you what your ‘story’ is and want to know why you are traveling. This is your chance to mention your prior work experience in a positive light. It’s not necessary to go on a tirade about your past employer as you never know…
• Stay in contact with people who can lead to possible work; both from your old career AND from the new people you meet. Check in with them from time to time and let them know what you are doing – or ask them how their business is going.
• If you end up spending a while in one place, try to meet some of the expat community. I have found that by networking within an expat community, you can make all kinds of international connections – especially in business. Get on mailing lists for the expat groups in your community, and attend functions where there will be expats to meet.
Do any of your career break veterans have other ideas to share! Speak up!