Career change at the age of late 30s

Have you ever thought: „I am useless, I can do nothing else, I have just a few skills”? I have thought. It was the moment when I decided that I had to change my career. Check out my career change story on how I became a Freelancer Recruiter.

Limitations and intolerance cause professional burnout

I used to be an English teacher. Due to the fact that I was not a “ordinary” school teacher, I had to deal with various problems. What does it mean to be unordinary teacher? Well, I like tattoos and piercings. I have many of them, but those are not scary, rather I would say that this is an art. All of my students and their parents used to like them, they were curious about it. At least you don’t judge the book by its cover, do you?

Unfortunately, my headteacher and other teachers didn’t think that way. This was funny because the school’s mission was to teach students how to be tolerant and open, how to fight with discrimination and how to accept people’s choices. So it occurred it was only on paper…I guess, it all happened because I helped students to manage with intolerance. They were teenagers and sometimes looked differently – „weird” as older teachers used to say.

One day, I was asked to enter my headteacher’s office. It was a few days after I pierced my nose. He told me that this is not well seen by other staff thus he ordered me to take it off. I was shocked that we live in a world where an adult can be told how to look like. I tried to stay calm and confident. When I got home, I started crying… I felt useless. When I came back home I started crying… I felt useless, I was depressed. I thought I could change my career path but I could do nothing else than teaching English. That was that moment when I decided that I don’t want to work in such a work environment.

I printed out the school’s mission statement on tolerance and discrimination. I went to the headteacher’s office, showed it to him and confidently said:

– I am not gonna take my piercing off my nose, I am a brilliant teacher, with passion and achievements, students and parents like me, piercing does not change me as a person.

Then I added that if he feels I am wrong he should have given me a paper with this order. Guess what happened? He didn’t do anything. This situation killed my teaching vibe. I wasn’t able to feel comfortable in the environment of people who cannot accept their workmate just because of the appearance.

Career change journey

While I was thinking about my career path I met my ex father-in-law. That day he was an owner of a coffee and ice-cream shop close to Poznań. I was living 150 km from that place. He told me that he was looking for a manager, a person who will run it for him. I had an entrepreneurship experience, I used to run my own language school for 12 years. Although it was quite various field I felt that it could be something for me. When I told him that I wanted it, he was shocked. I was a teacher, had small kids, own flat, my husband had a good job so it wasn’t so easy to change all our life. Well, but not for me.

Two weeks later I went to my headteacher’s office with my termination of the employment contract. At the beginning he wasn’t sure what was going on. I was one of three English teachers, I had many classes, I was also responsible for exchange projects and voluntary work. He asked me about my plans. I just told him I was going to change my life completely.

In June, after the school year ended we packed our things, sold our flat and moved to a new life. Before that I did many courses and trainings – team management, barista and many trainings concerning running the restaurant. It was something completely new to me, but I knew I wanted to try it. I was a manager working for someone else just for 5 months and then we decided that I am ready to be an owner of it. I bought it and now it is mine. Now, I have been running Napoleon Cafe in Szamotuły for 4 years and I give job for 11 people. I lead English workshops for kids – we prepare butter cookies and muffins, all in English. School trips come to my sweet place, I wanted to use my skills. We do concerts, charity events, live music and many more.

Development in HR

And since I have always been interested in HR field and have had experience in sourcing and recruiting new employees, activities in the field of HR – labour law, payrolls, onboarding/ offboarding, managing employees, taking care of Employer Branding and Candidate Experience, maintaining good relations and high quality customer service and assessment of employees’ competences and implementation of team training I decided that my next career step will be development in HR. And it was a shot in 10.

My business gives me some space for it because I’ve built a really fantastic team, I can rely on them. I attended an IT recruitment course and learned boolean and X-ray search methods. I signed up for LinkedIn, started to be visible and made new contacts. That was in November 2022, just 5 months ago.

In December, I started working with an IT start-up. I was a freelancer responsible for sourcing IT roles candidates via direct search methods, screening candidates and making relations with potential candidates and taking care of Candidate Experience. After two weeks, my candidate got a job offer! It was the moment when I felt that what I do gives me satisfaction. I wanted to know this world even more. I needed to find an employer who is flexible to fit the work of a recruiter with my private life and running a business at the same time…

Work-life fit. Cooperation with Talent Place

One month later, I send my application to Talent Place. I really wanted to work with them. I got to know a lot about this company, their approach and organizational culture is totally my cup of tea. A work system based on work-life fit is the solution I needed. It is about matching the professional and private spheres – so that they blend with each other.

I work as an independent recruiter – I am a freelancer and operate on my own terms. I feel huge support, everyone is helpful and motivational. What benefits did I get from working with Talent Place? Above all, flexibility – it’s a huge amount of freedom and space to seamlessly combine work and private life. The model is based on trust, and the focus is on the results of work, not on the time you have to “sit” at your desk. As a second factor – choice. I work the way I want and when I am most effective. I have developed a way of working in line with my personal life and company goals. and company goals.

Although it has been just 3 months I gained a lot of experience and now I feel very comfortable doing it. I have some successes concerning searching and hiring candidates. I want to develop in this area and be more and more effective. Maybe one day when my business will be too demanding I will devote myself only to the recruitment field? Now, I am finishing my post-graduate studies in HR Business Partner and I have a plan for 2024 but I do not want to jinx it.

Here is my message to all people who want to rebrand in their mature age and think that it is impossible. Believe in yourself, make a plan, then do it step by step.

Ewa Strong

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