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Middle Management: Between jobs? You need to read this...

What is it about having a baby that makes us decide to also throw into the mix renovating the house, selling up, starting a new business, or in my case moving countries?   That was what I did at the beginning of 2011, when I moved from Australia to New Zealand with an 11-day-old-baby.  Admittedly the move was to Queenstown, which I regard as the most beautiful place in the world, so really I can’t complain.

So I found myself in Queenstown with an 11-day-old and a two-and-half-year-old, no family, no friends and no job (having just left a highly successful career as a Senior Manager with an IT Recruitment company to “do something different and have time out”).  All the while there was a voice in my head screaming ‘What are you doing? This is crazy!’ Oh, I also forgot to mention that I had recently separated from my husband (but that’s another story and thankfully we are now back together).

So there I was, 32, alone and wondering for the first time in a long time (or possibly ever), ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ I was starting over. I was in between jobs and in a new country with no personal or professional network.  Believe me it would have been the easiest thing in the world to jump back over the ‘ditch’ to the safety and comfort of what I knew.  However, I am a firm believer that nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy, so I took it for what it was - an amazing opportunity to create the life I wanted.

I look back now to what has been the most amazing 12 months of my life. I have made real connections with people and have made friends with for life, I have quality time with my family, I am part of my community, I am “present” and my career is well and truly back on track.  I am the General Manager at Madison Group, a collection of specialist recruitment companies.

I have observed that when women are in between jobs, or on parental leave, there is a lack of confidence when it comes to their career and the prospect of returning to work. However, on the flip side of that, when we return to work we are pleasantly surprised at how quickly we fit back in, and how much knowledge we have actually gained and retained.  It is important to maintain your skills whilst on leave, be proactive and seek out opportunities that engage you to retain and build on your skills. Decide what you want, go for it and believe in yourself. Focus on want you want and not on what you don’t want!

A few simple philosophies I have lived by in the last 12 months:

  • Whenever you walk out the door, always, always be prepared to meet your next employer or business partner.  I am not saying dress in a suit everyday, however do think about your appearance - you just never know who you are going to run into at the supermarket, a party, or school.  New Zealand is a small place and it does seem to be two degrees of separation.
  • Network, Network, Network!  Build and maintain your professional networks, stay in touch with previous employers, employees and clients.  Whether it be via email, telephone or social networking (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter). Don’t just say lets have a coffee - actually have that coffee with someone.  We are a society of always saying ‘We must catch up’, however we never do this.
  • Frontfoot eveything.  Don’t wait for things to come to you, or people to return your calls, only you are in control of your life, only you can make things happen, only you can get that dream job.  In the war for talent we tend to think that the next job will come to us, however that’s not always the case.  Don’t take second best.  If you do find yourself in the wrong job, wrong culture, its best to fail fast and move on.  
  • Subscribe to online newsletters that will keep you up-to-date with industry news and developments. Read relevant articles, newspapers, magazines and surf the Internet to keep your knowledge up-to-date.  Join relevant professional associations and attend networking groups.
  • Seek out volunteer opportunities while on leave (if you have time!). There may be opportunities that revolve around your children. Use these opportunities to keep your skills current. These types of activities will expand your social and business network, and keep you up-to-date on industry developments. Volunteer work is an ideal way to maintain work experience while on parental leave.
  • Consider project-based work while you’re on leave. Small projects may fit in with your schedule and will enable you to keep your skills fresh.
  • Have fun. Most importantly, for whatever reason you may be out of the workforce, or between jobs, enjoy the time you have. I know I certainly have!


This article was published in the April/May edition of 'Her' magazine.

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Kristy is the General Manager of The Madison Group in Christchurch and Wellington. She hasn't quite become the Olympic swimmer she thought she'd grow up to be, but to our gain she has chosen a career in recruitment that provides the highs that adrenalin junkies such as Kristy seek. The best advice she has ever received is to simply be authentic - something that she now passes on to her team (along with: never turn down a good cup of coffee!)
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