Category: Finding your passion

Create your Own Flexible Job - Be an Innovative Wealth Creator

Create your Own Flexible Job – Be an Innovative Wealth Creator

I recently experienced the frustration of missing a flight in France, thanks to 1,000 taxis blockading Toulouse airport to display their dissatisfaction of the threat brought to their profession by Uber. It made me think – not just about Uber, but Airbnb,, eBay, Elance, Amazon and other similar websites that are allowing individuals to generate revenue through means other than standard employment. Could these be a solution to all of those mothers and fathers out there, unable to find the perfect paid flexible employment?

Advice – Offer a Flexible Job

At Workpond, we are committed to helping businesses improve their resourcing. We do this by teaching them how to attract the best talent – and one of our key pieces of advice is to make it a more flexible job. But we know that for every job we create, we could fill 10 more. So what about the unsuccessful candidates? What can they do?

Be Innovative about Wealth Creation

We find that when we speak to our candidates, both men and women, we discover that they are becoming increasingly innovative about how they generate wealth. It’s rather like the modern portfolio career, but rather than offering their services to many businesses, they are using their assets or time to generate wealth. Perhaps they rent their house out while they are on holiday; they babysit; they do small pieces of freelance work for businesses when needed. They sell second hand clothes, unwanted presents or their own crafted goods online (for themselves or others) or trade stocks and shares through a platform. These are fantastic ways of ensuring that they are creating wealth while they are waiting for the right timing to commit to a more permanent role or for the perfect flexible position, with the benefit that they are all totally flexible and in their control.

Time to Grow and Explore

There is no doubt that the majority of us are already independent wealth creators to different degrees and life events will certainly impact our level of activity. When starting a family, we all have a huge range of choices – whether to generate wealth by returning to work – or by building an extension. As our children grow and enter school and childcare needs change, our career aspirations and demands may evolve and we may choose to increase or decrease our work hours or elect to take a different career path and retrain. Time away from work can allow us to remove the blinkers, explore options, get creative and pursue other wealth generating activities, all thanks to the web and the plethora of options out there. Time away from work gives us the opportunity to try on a new career, just like you would try a new pair of shoes before you buy.

Could a Micro-business be the First Step to your Future Career?

So, do look at your options – thanks to the Internet, three of our team at Workpond set up their own modern micro-businesses when their children were small. This gave them real pleasure, something to channel their creative energies and experience into and taught them how businesses worked. It has certainly stood them in good stead. The experience has been valuable, it has made their CVs far more interesting and they have a great innovative story to tell at interview. So why not explore and enjoy seeking out new ways to generate wealth. They may lead to better things….

Flexible WorkingAuthor: Amanda Seabrook. Amanda is the MD and Founder of Workpond, a resourcing consultancy helping experienced professionals find flexible opportunities.

Flexible Careers for Anyone Who Wants to Work in Finance

Flexible Careers for Anyone Who Wants to Work in Finance

Financial skills are highly sought after, however jobs often require long office hours. But what are the options if you are returning to work or are looking for flexible or part-time work? Here are some great initial ideas for working mothers who like some flexibility for their family.

Project manager

At first glance a director of a large-scale project or task might not seem the perfect fit for a part time roles, but actually many of these roles can be completed from home – and the pay is usually excellent. Writing in Forbes – 10 high-paying flexible jobs, Jacquelyn Smith said that a senior manager can bring in almost $100k a year. Strong mathematics, communications and IT skills are essential, as is adaptability and a willingness to work strange hours.

Female accountant checking financial documentsAccounts assistant

An ideal part-time role, that will probably involve preparing and monitoring time sheets and making sure invoices are paid and distributed. You’ll need training in Sage or a similar package, and also considerable people skills. But there are numerous advantages to this role, and you can easily progress back to full-time employment if the opportunity arises

Finance manager

One of the next logical steps up from an assistant role, not least because you may have a strong say in the direction of the company where you are working. Proficiency in macro and micro financial perspectives will be key, and you’ll probably also be responsible for preparing a regular report on performance and forecasts for coming months or years.
An important part of the team then – and one that can be lucrative.

Marketing and e-commerce

A different type of financial role; one which requires a good grasp of the digital world and strong commercial acumen. You’ll be looking at how you can make your company market itself better, assessing budgets and perhaps even clicks and ad impressions, or you’ll be giving your skills to external companies on a consultative basis. Click here to find out more about BGL a consumer insurance group that offers flexible jobs.


Reverting from a full time role to working from home on a case-by-case basis, taking a role as a part-time criminal or civil lawyer, or as a consultant, can be a rewarding experience. Financial law is a big business and the punishments for making incorrect payments or tax arrangements can be devastating – hence the need for good people to regulate a company’s legal obligations. There are some smaller legal practices that have started over the past 10 years that offer flexible (from home and/or part-time) legal work.

Economics lecturer

A slightly more off-beat idea, but one that can reap dividends. Let’s say that you have a degree and extensive financial knowledge national (and maybe international) markets. You’ve worked in the office and have good business sense, but you’re also a keen student of economics both now and in the past. You’re articulate and you like talking to people about your passion, and you foresee a time when you might only be able to work part-time. With a year of study towards a PhD a lecturing role could be an option. Not easy – but it could be a very lucrative sideline in the evenings or on certain days, at colleges and universities.


Author: Jessica Foreman. Jessica is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through travelling. She wrote this article on behalf of BGL Group – consumer insurance.

Changing Career - Is the Construction Industry for Me?

Changing Career – Is the Construction Industry for Me?

It’s no secret that the construction industry is heavily male centric. In fact, there are only around 275,000 women in the entire industry and furthermore, 50,000 of those women work in an office environment.

As there are 2.5 million workers in the British construction industry, this means that women make up for only 12.2 per cent of that figure. Although it has risen from 10.7 per cent in 2010, the UK is still far behind Sweden’s 25 per cent and Germany’s 15 per cent.

But are women interested in joining the industry?

Although there not might be a great rush of female applicants for jobs in construction, according to a 2005 study by the Equal Opportunities Commission, 80 per cent of school girls stated that they would like to train in a non-traditional job. A further 12 per cent of that figure said that they would be interested in learning within the construction industry.

But why are so few women interested in a career within an industry that has proven so lucrative for men?

Katie Metclaf, a senior associate at Gardiner & Theobald, a construction company based in Leeds, said in The Guardian that:

“I don’t know why so few women are attracted to a career in construction but I think it’s partly due to a lack of awareness about the interesting and varied career opportunities, and partly due to the perception of the industry being male dominated and muddy. That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Aside from that, there is also another crises facing the construction industry and it is that of an ageing workforce alongside an already present skills shortage, something highlighted in a report by the Chartered Institute of Building last year.

The University of Reading has also looked into the issue in a separate report, stating that:

“Career sexism is an important issue for government, industry, employers and individuals. Occupational segregation is damaging the UK’s competitiveness by contributing to the gender pay gap and preventing it from benefiting from the talents of a balanced workforce. The under-utilisation of human resources dependent on gender patterns is of economic and social concern especially for an economy with an ageing workforce.”


For an industry that needs to hire more than 200,000 workers by 2020, is construction appealing enough to young women?

Indeed, builder2the industry is taking note, despite there still being a 22.8 per cent pay gap between the sexes. Nicky Morgan, speaking at the ‘Chicks with Bricks’ reception at the House of Commons said in January that:

“the gap is too high and I’m determined to see it come down further and faster – because it’s not just women who are missing out.”

According to The Guardian, employers are also taking note, with companies such as Bovis Lend Lease searching to recruit more women within the workplace via mentoring schemes and other programmes.

Speaking to the Jewson Tool Shed, Cara Palmer of Wates Construction Group, upon being asked what the greatest challenges within the industry were, she said that over the past couple of years, the weak economy was the biggest challenge, where:

“young people struggled to get employment and further training was halted for those within employment.” She continued, saying that “[the] sector is definitely picking up, both in terms of winning more work as well as the requirement to employ more people to resource the work.”

Things are picking up for women

The Construction builder3Youth Trust (CYT) has already said that it is “time to think differently” and organisations such as Women and Manual Trades (WAMT) and Women in Building Services Engineering (WiBSE) are pushing for change.

Educationally, institutions such as The Leeds College of Building is also making a stand, training more than 900 women a year, even going on to employ female tutors for all subjects in order to attract more young women into the industry.

In essence, the construction industry hasn’t always been the best place to work for women, but there is change afoot, and it is happening sooner rather than later.

For more information, the Women in Construction, Arts and Technology LTD has a great resource for women searching for courses within construction, arts & crafts and technology.

Author: Jane Wilson is the content executive at the Jewson Tool Shed,who works to help inspire young people into picking up a trade within the construction industry.

How a MOOC can help working mothers test their career dream

How a MOOC can help working mothers test their career dream

I always keep my eye out for good resources for women returning to work. This week I heard on Twitter about a free new online course just launched by coursera for fledgling social entrepreneurs, guiding people who want to set up a business with social impact to move from idea to action. This is a fantastic addition to the rapidly increasing number of free online courses run by University-level experts that you can take part in from your own home in your own time. I’m a great fan of these MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and think that they are a wonderful resource for women returners: I’ve heard very positive reports from colleagues, friends and coachees, who have followed courses on subjects ranging from creative writing to medical neuroscience.

There are many ways in which you might be able to use a MOOC when you are returning to work or changing career:

  • Testing whether you have the interest and commitment to invest in a masters programme, either to become more specialised &/or retrain into a new field.
  • Updating/refreshing/upskilling before returning to your previous field.
  • Exploring more creative possibilities, either purely for fulfilment and enjoyment, to investigate whether you want to take your working life in this direction or to finally to write your novel.
  • Keeping your brain working & your CV current while you are prioritising caring responsibilities.

Returning to social entrepreneurship, I know that for many women returning from a long career break, there’s a desire to find work with meaning and purpose; if you’ve been wondering how you can combine setting up your own business with doing something more meaningful, the coursera course could give you the impetus you need to test whether your dreams can become reality (see here for more details).

Let us know if you have studied a great free online course – we’d love to receive any recommendations!

Some MOOC Providers

  • coursera (courses from 115+ top universities including Yale & Stanford)
  • edX (courses from MIT, Harvard, etc)
  • Future Learn (range of universities & cultural institutions)
  • Open Learning (free learning from The Open University)
  • Udacity (tech skills from Silicon Valley companies)
  • Course list with individual US universities

julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

Flexible Working

Find your way back to work through Strategic Volunteering

Volunteering is a common activity among former professionals who are on a career break, whether or not they wish to return to work at some point. Charities, PTAs and local campaigns are always in need of additional support and committed people: for women on a career break they can provide the companionship and sense of purpose that they previously found in their career, as well as essential flexibility.
It is very easy to fill your time with voluntary roles, especially once your children are in school and you can quickly feel very busy, productive and valued.  If you are thinking of returning to work at some stage, though, it is worth thinking about volunteering that can help you with your return either through developing your existing skills or acquiring new ones and, additionally, building your network. This is what we mean by strategic volunteering – work that does more than just make you feel that you are giving something back.

We have worked with many women for whom strategic volunteering was their launch-pad back to work. In some cases this was a deliberate approach and in others, there was a more organic development with the woman discovering a new interest or uncovering a previously hidden talent. You will find more details about some of these examples in our success stories.

These returners planned their volunteering deliberately as a route back to work:
Sue* was a volunteer Games Maker Selection interviewer, with me, for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. She’d previously had a career in HR and used the opportunity of our weekly shift to connect with the London 2012 HR team to find out about other permanent roles in the organisation. Three months into our volunteering she was employed there.

Amy* a former City lawyer volunteered in the legal department of a national charity, advising on contractual matters which was her expertise. After some months she negotiated a move to the trusts and legacy team where she built the knowledge and expertise that enabled her to apply for employment in her target area of private client practice.

In our success stories you can read about Caroline Boyd who joined the Parent Gym as a volunteer trainer/facilitator following a 4 year break from a career in marketing. She loved this new type of work so much that after a year she successfully applied for a permanent training role with the Mind Gym, the commercial arm.

Lynda* a former radio producer used a series of volunteer roles as stepping stones to a new career, starting from the school PTA where she ran a portfolio of increasingly successful fundraising and social events for a number of years. Having regained her professional confidence she volunteered as the campaign manager for a London mayoral candidate, using her journalistic instincts to develop an effective PR campaign from a standing start. Armed with this experience and many new contacts, Lynda was employed by a new political party to manage its PR activity.

julianne&katerinaAuthor: From the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

Why Work Needs to be Energising as well as Family-friendly: Nicola's story

Why Work Needs to be Energising as well as Family-friendly: Nicola’s story

We always advise women returners to target roles that will be energising and motivating for them and not to solely focus on finding a job that is part-time and flexible. If you find your ‘family-friendly’ work boring then you are unlikely to be happy with your work-life balance. Nicola’s story illustrates this perfectly …

Nicola’s story: Back to insurance (via nursery teaching)

Before I had children I worked in insurance broking and risk management. When I had my first daughter I went back to work 4 days a week but when I had my second daughter I didn’t want to delegate to a nanny anymore and decided to become a full-time mum. By the time my youngest was 2½ and at nursery I needed something to fill my days to stop getting frustrated. So I took a job as a nursery assistant teacher and worked there for 5 mornings a week term-time for 5 years. I enjoyed meeting new people but there was no mental challenge. The death of a close relative led me to reassess my life and I realized I was drifting. I considered training to be a schoolteacher but didn’t have much enthusiasm for it. I kicked my heels for a while and then contacted my old boss who I had kept in touch with over the 10 years since I left insurance. I asked him to let me know if he heard of any job, provided it was flexible. I also told all my friends and old work contacts that I was looking.

By pure chance one of my husband’s friends was having lunch with another mutual friend and mentioned that I wanted to get back into insurance. This friend worked for a risk management consultancy which was recruiting and approached me about a role there. I asked for 3 days a week, flexible according to demand but not Fridays. This was agreed because I was clear about what I wanted and what could work for the business.
I now absolutely love my life – it was definitely the right decision to go back. Even though I am working longer hours, my life feels more my own and I have got back my self-respect. I thought I’d be exhausted but in fact I have more energy than when I was working a few hours a day in the nursery. I’d rather be busy than bored!

More inspiring return-to-work stories on Women Returners and..more inspiring return-to-work stories on Mum & Career.

julianne&katerinaAuthor: From the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.


Becoming a teacher - Is it a viable option for returning to work?

Becoming a teacher – Is it a viable option for returning to work?

Teachers have excellent employment prospects, good starting salaries and highly rewarding work, is it indeed a viable option for mums with degrees who are looking to return to work?

Growing demand and good Salary levels


Currently there is a growing demand for teachers in the UK, particularly within inner city schools. Once employed, newly qualified teachers earn a minimum of £21.8K (£27.3K for inner London) with the government planning to introduce £70K salaries for top performing teachers. There are plenty of opportunities to progress teaching careers either within the classroom or in a leadership role – teachers are twice as likely to be in a management position as graduates in other careers after 3.5 years on the job. Find more information on Teacher Salaries at the UK Government Education website.

Alongside the salary, there’s a range of benefits including a substantial teachers’ pension. More importantly, teachers gain an incredible sense of satisfaction from seeing the difference they make as their pupils progress and help them reach their potential in life.

Entry requirements for becoming a  teacher

To become a teacher, you need a degree in any subject, usually class 2:2 or higher, awarded by a UK university or recognised equivalent qualification. You also need GCSE English and Maths (or equivalent) at grade C or above, GCSE Science (or equivalent) at grade C or above if you are applying to teach Primary upwards. You also need to pass the Professional Skills tests in numeracy and literacy. Find more info at the Government ‘Get into Teaching’ website

There are then two paths to becoming a teacher, both of which take one year to complete:

1. Gain a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) – a post graduate degree from a university or SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training). At SCITTs, a significant part of the training conducted is in classrooms via their network of local schools.

2. Take the new, school-led School Direct programme, a popular route for those seeking a career change and wanting to retrain as a teacher. Providing entirely ‘on-the-job’ training, School Direct allows you to gain the qualifications and skills required to becoming a teacher whilst working in the school. Successful School Direct trainees will gain Qualified Teacher Status with the option to achieve a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) worth 60 M level credits. You can take a Salaried School Direct option whereby you are employed by the school as an unqualified teacher. This requires a minimum of 3 years’ work experience (it need not be from an educational setting) as well as the qualifications mentioned earlier.

How to find out if it is for me?

mature studentsGetting qualified is a significant time and financial investment. Therefor, it’s a good idea to get some classroom experience to ensure this is the right career choice for you. Contact several schools in your area to find out where you can volunteer as there may be a waiting list at some. You’ll then be able to find out if you do enjoy working with kids, which age group and which subjects you’d like to teach. You’ll also meet other teachers to find out exactly what’s involved. You can ask to shadow a few classes for instance. Alternatively you may like to find other places where you can volunteer to work with children to test if it is for you, eg. at scouting, a sports club or a local after school club.

Is it flexible?

Even though it may seem teaching fits nicely around school hours, in practice this is not the case. Teachers arrive before the children arrive, and usually stay till around 5-6pm. There is also regular work in evenings, but probably not more than once a week. In addition teachers don’t get the entire school holidays off.  You could consider becoming a teacher in a specialist topic like IT or Remedial Teaching in primary schools, which gives more flexibility or look for part-time options. Part-time options are available, but might reduce the options of you having your own group of children. However, teaching is certainly a lot less working hours than a typical career in the city, and school holidays do coincide for a large part at least.

liz-georgeAuthor: Liz George, Course Director at ldbsSCITT. Liz George is one of the UK’s most experienced educational professionals. With a career spanning over 35 years, her roles have included Primary Advisory Teacher, lecturing on teaching training at Goldsmiths, consulting for Channel 4’s educational TV shows and working on various activities for the Centre of Literacy in Primary Education. Liz is now Course Director for ldbsSCITT, a dedicated, school-centred teacher training institution located in the heart of London with 100% graduate employment rate.

How I re-wrote the rules when returning to work and became a coach

How I re-wrote the rules when returning to work and became a coach

Before having children, I was a high-performing, highly motivated, ambitious and driven woman – in fact, I still am. Following the birth of my first son, I returned to my job to discover a deep-seated personal conflict between my career ambitions and my newly developed values and priorities that centred on my family. It was a surprise to both my husband and me.

I rationalised a sideways move in my corporate job to eliminate travel, felt grateful for the opportunity to achieve a semblance of work-life balance and coped with the situation. But a life-threatening stroke following the birth of my second son made it clear that my coping strategies and rationalisation hadn’t worked as well as I’d thought.

I took more time off than I’d planned, as my maternity leave extended into sick leave. The health issues caused significant fear and anxiety; at the same time, my already-vanishing professional identity felt unrecoverable, causing more stress and worry.

Meanwhile, I was reading the multitude of articles that said city mums could have it all – wait, no, we can’t have it all – actually, some of us can, but most of us can’t – but wait… what is it we actually want anyway? It was all too much and one day I found myself literally hiding away from it all under the duvet and realised I didn’t even recognise myself anymore.

woman-babyI needed to work. I wanted to work. So much of my identity had been tied to my career: I was respected, my input was valued, client work was incredibly engaging and I loved what I did. But I also wanted to do something that would support the family life I’d created for myself.

At a Mum & Career workshop in January, speaker Liz Lugt sparked a flame and inspired me to follow my passion. I then discovered the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), the world’s leading accredited coach training programme*. iPEC not only trains professional coaches but also gives them everything they need to set up their own successful coaching business.

After a discussion with an iPEC graduate, I started wondering, “What if there really was a solution that allowed me to do work I love, with people I care about, make a meaningful impact, and do it all in a way that enabled me to participate fully in my life as a mother, wife and successful business woman?”

I was hungry for that solution and it was an enticing opportunity. The 7-month training delivered through a combination of 3 live weekend modules and home study provided the flexibility I needed to support my return to work as I supported my family. The training built on my strengths, restored and raised my self-confidence, gave me clarity of purpose and helped me build a practical, solid, business foundation.

I never thought of myself as entrepreneurial, but now seven months after Duvet Day, I have my own coaching business, and most importantly, I know who I am, what I want and I have complete confidence that I know how to get there. I feel more in control of my thoughts and emotions; and my identity and values are now consistent with my profession. I’m happier at home and I feel more present and competent with the children.

Times like new motherhood and returning to work present us with an incredible opportunity to literally re-write the rules of our life in a way that supports who we want to be and follow our passions. Embrace the opportunity! Take some time to ask yourself – and answer – some powerful questions:

  • What do I really want out of life?
  • What am I truly passionate about?
  • Who am I, really?
  • Where am I limiting myself, or settling? And what are others missing as a result?
  • What rules am I following? How are they limiting me? How are they benefiting me?
  • What could happen if I brought my passions to life?

Once you set your intentions on what you really want in your life, opportunities come flooding in the door.

patriciaAuthor:  Patricia Erhardt Lewis from Well Ahead Coaching.

Patricia now draws upon all the experiences she has described by working with new mothers who are grappling with issues around returning to work. Her passion is partnering with career-oriented mothers to re-write the rules of their lives and help them choose whether to:  

  • re-engage with their careers, really focus on work (while there) and make a step-change in influence, seniority or expertise;
  • realign career choices with a newly acknowledged change in values and priorities; or
  • reinvent themselves by harnessing the power of their own creativity to strike out in a new direction.

She would love to hear how your return to work is going. If all this strikes a chord and you’re looking for support, contact her and discover who you really want to be and how to make it happen…, or +44(0)7753627504.

If you’re interested in coaching as a career or as an enhancement to your current role, click on the logo on the left or call 0800 008 7647.