Reigning in the magpie tendencies

I had a bit of time off in the last month in Italy, which allowed me to take stock and think more clearly about what I was doing to enable my career change. In my previous column, I was pouring over creative job descriptions, looking at the skills required and what I needed to upskill in. In Italy, I looked at copywriting websites, found copywriting podcasts, did bitesize SEO courses, and finished off copywriting work for two clients. I was busy, and enjoyed it, but frankly, I feel like I need a good month off to make a dent in my career move. I’ve been building up my portfolio and upskilling, but it seems a bit organic, piecemeal and lacking in an actual plan.

I remember two images that were shared in my career change course that I feel justify my randomness and how I’m feeling. One showed points A and B with a direct line from A to B. The tutor said that people think a career change is a simple process or step. The other was an absolute mess of squiggles and swirls from A to B. This is career change she said. Ha! She is so right.

And so, I am pondering the following:

  • Do I go part-time in my current career and build my copywriting work on the side or apply directly to a perm or freelance copywriting role?
  • Do I try to find a job back in a communications agency, an environment I loved with variety, creativity and real teamwork?
  • How do I update my LinkedIn profile or re-write my CV if I don’t know what I am aiming for, and crucially not alert my current company?
  • Do I move to a four day week at work to give me the time to do more thinking and action things and limit the amount of ‘other career’ work that is eating up my free time?
  • I am planning to move closer to Bristol early next year and currently have job alerts set up for the local area to me now and Bristol. If I find a role close to me and I move next year, how will that work? Or I might find a position in Bristol before I move? Should I even be looking?!
  • The timing. COVID-19 timing. With so many people being made redundant, should I thank my lucky stars that I have a role and sit tight?
  • How do I carve out time to do relevant courses or training?

So many variables! And these fly around my mind regularly. What do I do first? What’s necessary? I must gain some semblance of control, rein in my thoughts and stop flitting between things like a magpie attracted by the next shiny thing.

On my flight back from Italy, I decided to act. I looked back through all the notes I had made, the interviews with people, websites I needed to look at, margin scrawls, starred sentences and got stuck into pulling out what I thought was important and put them into a list. I don’t know about you, but a list makes me feel calm, organised, and able to think clearly. A step closer to having some control because I am a control freak. With everything all clearly laid out on a page, it was easy for me to step back and look at what was essential and would help me further my progress. My list went into double digits which could have felt overwhelming, so I wanted to be quite tough on what could wait based on how much impact it had on my progress.

Instantly I could see what I needed to do. If I want to apply for a job on one of the many job alerts I have set up, I must have an up-to-date CV and one that reflects the portfolio work I have been doing – priority number one.

Priority number two; tweak my LinkedIn profile. I have some positive testimonials from the portfolio work I have done that I should share and could help me reposition myself to start connecting with more people in the areas that interest me. My profile summary must be more in line with my passions, the work I have done and am looking to do if I am to attract a different network.

Priority number three; continue to understand SEO. I started a great little course called SEO Nibbles from an award-winning copywriter, Kate Toon, in Italy, and I still have one more ‘nibble’ to do. I also want to find the time to listen to her copywriting podcasts. (COVID-19 has meant my usual podcast listening time, on ‘my commute to work’ has been taken away from me. I don’t have time to listen to a podcast between my bedroom and office!) I also managed to spend time with my sister, who shared hints and tips from what she had learnt about SEO as part of her job and kindly gave me some good material to read and use. Thanks, sis!

And that’s all I am prioritising for now. I can cope with things in threes, and so long as the ‘Do CV’, ‘Tweak LinkedIn profile’ and ‘Do SEO course’ post-it notes remain on my office wall, I won’t look at the list again. I need to focus, and I have time. I need to recognise this. I don’t have to do everything by the end of next week, and realistically I can’t. (My first headline idea for this month’s column was originally going to be ‘I want to be a salsa dancer, now!’ because that’s I how I feel. I’m an impatient person.) I’m lucky to have a job and a partner who gives me space to catch up on things like writing this column and ticking off my priorities, and I have some control back. Career change takes time, as simple as that.

By next month’s column, I will have an up-to-date CV!

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