Karen was thrilled. Her three children were all thriving and doing well in school. She and her husband had agreed that after nine years at home as their primary caregiver, she would begin the process of re-starting her career, and return to work fulltime.

Her goal: to have a role in recruiting in the human resources department of a large corporation or financial institution within two years. Prior to having children, Karen had worked as a licensed social worker at a hospital for six years.

But when Karen enthusiastically shared her goal with her (always direct) sister, she asked, “Karen, how are you going to do that? That’s completely unrealistic!”

Are you in the same boat and trying to sort out if your re-entry strategy is the right one? To find out, follow the steps below to make an objective assessment of whether your plan is realistic or not. 

1. Get out and learn.

You can’t determine if your career goal is realistic from behind your computer screen. You’ll need to get out and talk with people who work in your targeted area, or who have the kind of role that you’d like to have. What skills do they use, what kind of educational credentials or training do they have, and what were their career paths? An Après industry expert may also be able to help.

2. Assess yourself.

Once you’ve gathered the information above, use it to gauge your marketability and then develop an action plan. What rusty skills do you need to hone? Which new ones do you need to develop? Do you need to take a course, pursue a certificate program, or perhaps even obtain a degree? Consider local college courses, university certificate programs, or online classes such as those offered by Coursera. Do you need to gain experience by doing an internship or a contract project? Can these things be done within the timeframe that you’ve set to accomplish your goal?   

3. Do a motivation check.

You are the best judge of whether you have the motivation and appetite for all that’s entailed in moving toward your career goal. If factors such as your resources and support system will be relevant, you need to take stock to decide whether your goal is realistic.

4. What tradeoffs are you willing to make?

Sometimes a career goal can become more realistic if you’re willing to be flexible on some part of it. In Karen’s case, given her background, she may find that if she’s targeting a role in recruiting at a large corporation or financial institution, being open to doing that in an area where she already has experience, such as health care, could make her goal more accessible. Hold on to what’s most important to you about your goal, but be willing to give on other aspects.

If seeking further support, see our roster of career coaches.