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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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If you have a question for our Career Coach, e-mail Helen at careers@ReConnectAfrica.com

Dear Helen

I have been working in the secretarial profession for almost twenty years now to be precise I will soon be clocking twenty years with my employer in 2007 – God willing.

I have seen it all in this profession and I now feel I want to change and do something else. The problem is I do not have a first degree since I am sure it’s one of the qualification required for one to make a move. I have other qualifications and attributes such as Public Relations and journalism. I am a member of the Zimbabwe Women Writers Association and also a Member of the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Relations.

Helen what do you think I can do because I am sure with the knowledge I have attained I can something different from secretarial.

Please advise.

Sandra, Zimbabwe

Hi Sandra

Congratulations on a long and successful career thus far and for being ready to take the challenge to move into a new area.

While a first degree is a favoured option for many employers, many companies do increasingly recognise that talent comes in a diversity of packages. The fact is that, in your case, you can point to an excellent track record of employment and the kind of experience that will be a valuable asset to an organisation.

I would suggest that you carefully assess the key skills that you have acquired during your working life. You clearly have strong writing and communication skills which, allied to your qualifications in journalism, could suggest opportunities in media, corporate communications, public relations, editing and other areas requiring good written communication skills.

I would suggest that you:

  • Prepare a high-impact skills based CV that focuses on highlighting the technical skills and other competencies that you have developed during your career. In this way, you will emphasis what you can offer an employer, rather than the positions in which you acquired these skills.

  • Research the companies and consultancies in Zimbabwe that undertake these kinds of services to establish whether there are opportunities for entry.

  • Consider the key skills needed for the roles you are targeting and think about the achievements in your work experience that will support this.

  • Research the possibility of undertaking further training to brush up your skills– or consider a part-time or full-time course to finally get your first degree!

  • Network actively among the membership of the professional associations to which you belong. Aim to identify contacts and opportunities that may be available through these groups and their membership.

  • Share your aspirations with family, friends and trusted colleagues so that they can also use their networks to support your job search.

  • You do not mention what your current employer does but don’t overlook the opportunity to establish what may be available in terms of a career change in your own company.

  • Prepare thoroughly for interviews and be ready with succinct accounts of the success stories that will back up the great experience that you already have.

For more detailed advice for a winning CV, don’t forget that you can send your CV through to us for an online personalised CV check.

All the best!


Voted Candace Business Woman of the Year 1997, Helen Dupigny is a Director and co-founder of Working Plus, (www.working-plus.com) a Careers Management and Diversity consultancy and creator of the award-winning ‘Six Steps Career and Personal Development Programme’. A Sierra Leonean based in London, Helen is also the author of ‘Vicissitude’, a guide to making life and career changes.

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