The ‘Stop & Go’ Career – Why can’t Employers see the Benefits?



Careers are no longer linear as the changing nature of work continues to shift.

Careers have become transitional and fluid removing the traditional model of constant long-term employment. I say bravo!

Yet so many employers continue to struggle to see the enormous value Stop & Go candidates bring.

Sam Mostyn the winner of the inaugural 100 Women of Influence Award admits her Stop & Go career has had its difficulties but ultimately it has allowed her to be “an active, involved and engaged parent”.  Mostyn believes companies constantly resort to an out of date industrial model that hobbles flexibility, diversity and equality.  Why can’t they see the benefits?

Usually, it is women who experience the Stop & Go career due to caring responsibilities as mothers and daughters.  My own career has had many and varied interruptions and while not all of these can be attributed to caring duties, it is motherhood that has added the greatest complexities.  Questions such as when to return to work, in what capacity, childcare, sick children etc.  These barriers to returning to work are well documented.

What I find interesting is that we no longer have an expectation of ‘a job for life’ and frankly I celebrate the fact that careers no longer linear.  Yet many employers seem unable to embrace a new model of incorporating people (women in particular) with patchwork careers into their organisations.

I believe it is the precarious nature of my career that underpins the richness of my capabilities today.  While I can clearly state a common theme in my experiences it is the varied people, cultures, industries and organisation’s that have enriched my knowledge.

Many women experience the Stop & Go career, often finding paid employment that fits with their day-to-day responsibilities rather than pursuing roles in their ‘original’ (if you will) field of expertise.   I recently worked with a client who was caring for her young children and an elderly mother.  Her career encompassed a variety of experiences, beginning as a pastry chef, through to a retail buyer to now working part-time at an NGO as an administrator.  At the beginning of her job search she found employers questioning her commitment, capabilities and ultimately wondering why she was changing careers.  Why can’t employers see the benefits associated with her experiences like I do?  For instance, show me a chef with poor time management skills, what about a retail buyer with the inability to build relationships?  Finally, show me a woman who cares for young children and a sick mother at the same time that lacks empathy and the ability to contribute meaningfully to others?

We need this model of career to keep us growing and challenging our capabilities.  It allows us to experience a depth of knowledge about our work and also allows us some breathing space.  There are enormous benefits for both employee and employer if we are willing to challenge the corporate norm.

Posted by Felicity McLaughlin

BonnieSue Nevin

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