Posts Tagged ‘personal development’

How to turn a period of absence from work into a Product

May 13, 2014 Leave a comment

My kids have reached an age where smart answers are the order of the day.  When told to “do nothing, then” in response to protests over not being allowed on the DS/XBox/iPad/Disney Channel etc. they are quick to respond in a smarmy voice, “it’s not possible for me to do nothing…I’m still breathing.”  You know the sort of thing, I’m sure. Don’t get me wrong – they are both avid readers (which just contributes backchat!)


As annoying as it is, there is a lesson their audacity and I draw a parallel with people returning to work after a “period of absence”, myself included.  I’ve been privileged enough to meet many people at various workshops, mentoring events and job seeker groups and observe their vulnerability and trepidation in selling themselves back to the corporate world.


However, it usually takes only a few minutes of conversation to get onto the small businesses they have run, the positions of authority they have held in local authority, community or charitable organisations and the mentoring or support they have been providing to other peers, friends or dependants.  Like my kids, it seems that it is almost impossible to do nothing during a so-called period of extended absence from work, but many of us end up feeling that way. My understanding is that there seems to be value gap between the things we may have been doing for little or no pay and the things that we “perceive” sit clearly on our career path.  Essentially, we are able to turn the skills and language of our chosen career in the corporate world into products – on our CV, Linkedin profile and various other channels – but may feel lost when trying to “productize”  these other low worth activities.


Often these roles involve managing people, developing processes and best practice, mentoring, managing books, accounts and finances, coordinating multiple resources, writing communications materials, dealing with suppliers, developing marketing materials, dealing with clients and a host of other activities.  Organising a team of four to complete the Oxfam Trailwalker has taken huge amounts of time and planning and we all know that establishing routines and working disciplines with kids can be more complex than many corporate projects we’ve worked on, but we find it difficult to define these things in corporate terms.


My advice is to take the time to discuss the period in question with friends and peers and make a bulleted list of the activities that you’ve done.  Then write them out in a short CV for similar role, as if you were applying for a similar job.  Compare this CV with your corporate version and see how the language differs.  Take time to appreciate where the skills, pressures and achievements are similar and how your approach to completing the task has enhanced your ability to do it again in any environment.  Now create a new entry on your corporate CV listing the things you have done in this most recent stage of your career, as products and in the appropriate corporate language and be prepared to talk about them.  It’s important that we recognise that these activities have enhanced our skills and will add value to the next assignment.

Very much like my kids inability to do nothing, aging alone contributes huge amounts of value to our ability to  interpret, manage, evaluate and make better decisions every day.

If you like this article, please show your appreciation by sponsoring our Oxfam/Gurkha Welfare Trust Trailwalker Team:


If you don’t like the article, give double.