Can caregiving help your career? Yes! Use these 5 skills to move forward

If you’re like most people, you’ve spent a lot more time caring for children, elderly parents, friends, or neighbors over the past two years. For some, caregiving means taking a step back from career growth, but it doesn’t have to be.

In addition to the challenges of caregiving, this also translates into the development of key skills that are highly transferable to your job. But recognizing skills and articulating them for employers is key to moving forward.

Mix caregiving and career

The number of people providing care has increased dramatically over the past two years, and a study by Case Western Reserve University reports that, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), there are approximately 66 million family caregivers in the United States, and about half of them work outside the home. In addition, more than half of caregivers are women. The “caregiving economy” – the value of the work done by unpaid caregivers – is valued at $ 450 million per year, according to the NAC and AARP.

Caring takes time, and according to a Fidelity study, a caregiver spends an average of 61 hours per week and a caregiver spends an average of 28 hours per week. In addition, women report spending about twice as much time as men providing care.

Because of the hours caregiving consumes, this puts a predictable strain on the job.

  • According to the Fidelity study, 33% of people say caregiving has led to setbacks in their work or career goals.
  • Parents of children under the age of 18 report having difficulty making progress at work because of the time they spend facilitating their children’s learning, according to a report by the American Staffing Association.
  • Women caregivers miss out on career advancement opportunities and lose employment benefits because they work fewer hours, according to the Case Western Reserve University study.
  • Caregivers experience emotional, physical and financial stress, depending on the Canadian Journal of Cardiology– all this prevents you from doing your best at work.
  • Caregivers have had to quit their jobs (64%), reduce their hours (62%) or take time off (14%) because of the time required to care for children and adults, according to the Fidelity study.
  • Additionally, 44% of working caregivers report feeling distracted while working, being less productive, needing time off, or being ignored for a raise or promotion. That’s according to another Fidelity study published in October.

The power of caregiving

But while caregiving can have negative effects, it can also have positive results. New research from (In) Credible reveals that some important skills are learned through caregiving, and 2/3 of people say their abilities were enhanced during the process of providing all kinds of care.

Here are the abilities you develop and how you can harness them to fuel your career.

Direction. Leadership is fundamental to caregiving, whether you are leading children in learning or exploring the complexities of healthcare for an aging parent. The (In) Credible study found that 20% of respondents developed their leadership skills and 30% developed their skills to motivate others. Employers value leadership skills, whatever your role. And the abilities to lead, guide, and engage people towards common goals are powerful selling points for your next role or your next career step.

Empathy. Empathy is an important ability that we tend to develop through caregiving. The (In) Credible study reveals that 71% of people improved their empathy. Empathy is a factor for success at work: Research shows that when leaders express empathy, companies benefit in terms of innovation, engagement, retention, inclusiveness, mental health and empowerment. increased cooperation. You can showcase your empathetic strengths that contribute to the business and its positive results.

Stress tolerance. According to the (In) Credible study, 63% of people report an increase in their stress tolerance, which is also very positive for your contribution to work. Stress at work has increased over the past two years and according to a ResumeLab study, 67% of employees suffer from burnout. But people who are able to deal with stress effectively have an advantage in their ability to cope, adapt, perform and thrive.

Communication. The (In) Credible study also reports that people are developing their capacity for advocacy (47%), conflict management (42%) and global communication (63%). It’s easy to demonstrate how important effective communication is to business success. When you can express your point of view, manage differences of opinion, ask questions, listen and effectively express your ideas, it contributes to the success of your career.

Management of time. In addition, according to the (In) Credible study, 54% of people say they have increased their ability to manage their time. As the job has changed, the ability to manage multiple priorities, overcome planning challenges, and achieve results are desirable skills.

Make the case

So you have developed great skills that you know are relevant for business. You can convince your employer of your capabilities by making a solid business case. For that, proceed as following :

  • Be open about the time you have invested in caregiving. If you’ve taken a step back or reduced your caregiving hours, be transparent about how you’ve used your time. Be confident in your choices and be sure of your priorities.
  • Reflect your understanding of the needs of the business. All skills are applicable in most jobs, but you can also focus on key connections. For example, if you are applying for a project management position, highlight your time management skills, or if you are pursuing a role in customer service or design, build your capacity for empathy. If you are looking for a promotion, you can focus on your leadership and communication skills.
  • Give examples and prove the results. Go beyond general discussions about your skills and demonstrate your abilities through storytelling. Talk about how you created a learning module for your child and others during quarantine, which improved the academic performance of the affected children. Or describe the ambiguity in the health care process when your mother needed care, and how you were successful in advocating for clarity, resulting in a more effective and coordinated plan for her return to health.
  • Be clear about your commitment. Emphasize your desire for the role and how you will manage the demands of your time. Reinforce the scope of your commitment to delivering results and contribute to the success of the team and the organization.

In sum

Rather than creating barriers to career progression, caregiving can give your job a boost. Overall, your state of mind matters. Be confident in your choices and the contributions you have made to family and community. Embrace the ways you have grown personally and the ways you can bring your areas of growth to a new job, expanded role, or great promotion.

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