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Careers don’t develop in a vacuum. The decades you spend on building your professional life also are the time when you probably are developing personal relationships, hobbies and a family. You may not — and should not — think of either one as an obstacle to the other, but it is the reality that one can hinder progress on the other.
The immediate example that many people may think of is women staying home to look after small children and missing out on many years of professional development. But that is, in fact, not the only situation. Men and women, alike, make professional decisions based on their personal priorities and needs. Anyone, regardless of gender, may decide to take a job that is close to a particular city, near family members or provide good schooling and services for children. Anyone may leave a job that doesn’t allow for a quality lifestyle or time for family and personal life. People also make career decisions based on children’s and spouses’ best interest.
With that in mind, it is important to know what your priorities are and communicate them clearly to current and future employers. Here are a few points to keep in mind.
Your commitment to your family and to your personal priorities can’t be taken against you — unless left unexplained and mistakenly seen as slacking, lack of interest in professional development, etc. It is your duty to explain to your employers why certain decisions had or have to be made. These decisions may lead to job loss, relocating, switching jobs, or quitting after a short period of time.
If you’re taking a new job, your past experiences can raise concerns about how you’d behave in a similar situation. That is why it’s always important to ensure that you are clearly elaborating on how you see the current opportunity differently, or how your situation has changed.
Have you been forced to leave a super job to move your family to an area that offers better education or living standards? If that is where you’re settled in now, you may make it clear that you have no intention for another move soon. Providing a future employer with reasonable grounds for whatever may appear unreasonable on your resume helps you answer their questions and unspoken concerns.
In any argument that emphasises your belonging and commitment to your family or personal interests, you also need to provide evidence that you took the employers’ interest into consideration. For example, mention that you never quit without giving employers ample notice, smooth transition and whatever was needed to make up for your decision — of course if all of these claims were true and can be confirmed by your references.
Make sure that you never appear to be less committed to your career. For example, you can mention your interest in maintaining life-career balance. Any hiring manager who takes that against you probably won’t make a good supervisor in the future.
Although it is understandable that every family member makes many professional decisions with considerations and inputs from the others, it is important that you establish yourself as a capable decision maker with your employer. In short, unless it is something that directly affects others in your household, don’t refer to required consultation. You still may ask for time to consider or work out whatever excuse you need to delay an immediate “yes” or “no,” but don’t rush into introducing your family into every business matter. Remember, employers hired you only — not your entire network of family and friends.
Hobbies and personal interest
Careers often are not the sole fulfilment for anyone. You may be an amateur musician, an enthusiast about sports, cooking, travel, research, blogging or whatever. These personal interests will require you to assign a varying amount of time to enjoy them, and that time should not by any means affect your work. If any of them turns into a reason for you to change your schedule, ask to be relocated, or ask for any sort of special treatment, you must be clear with your current — and future — employer that you’re not making this decision lightly. People probably will be more willing to accommodate and understand your needs — even if they don’t resonate with them so much — if you express a sincere interest and a clear thorough thinking behind them.
Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a Seattle-based editor