June 2, 2011

Career Building + Eldercare = A Challenging Situation

If your elderly parents are ailing, then you know there is almost nothing as logistically challenging as managing their household while also running your own. Unless, that is, you add distance to the equation – and a job search for yourself.

Job seekers with eldercare responsibilities face a number of difficult challenges. For most, it’s not so much about balancing the search itself with the family responsibilities – since it’s a relatively short-term project to find work, those logistics are not usually overwhelming. But how does one go about choosing a job that will provide enough flexibility to take mom to the doctor or help dad with his bills? There’s only so much one can do on the weekends, after all. And again, if distance is a factor, the new job is going to have to be doubly flexible.

For some people, the problem of job search comes after the hard work of eldercare has ended. They may have seen mom or dad through a final illness, having quit a job to do so. Now, several months or years later, they have a problem to solve: How to explain the gap in work, while also appearing up-to-date for the next employer?

Not surprisingly, these workers are often considering a career change. Not only has their previous profession moved on without them, but they have likely developed a new approach to life that needs to be taken into account. Some people will find they are motivated more than ever to build a career and make their mark, while others might discover a newfound drive to slow down and spend time with their families. In either case, the old profession may no longer fit the bill.

In the happiest of cases, the new career might jibe with their recent use of time, giving them something of substance to talk about in interviews. For example, candidates searching for geriatric jobs after a stint of helping their parents will have recent knowledge of the systems and services available to elderly clients. Of course, they might still need training, depending on the work itself, but the transition might seem more seamless to both the employee and the employer.

If you are currently (or expect to be) in the situation described here, know that you’re not alone. As in all job searches, focus on learning and meeting the employer’s needs and you’ll win the offer.

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