Nervous about returning to work after a career break? Read six expert tips to help you get prepared and confident, ready to find your ideal flexible role.
If you’ve been at home raising your children and are now starting to think about heading back to work, the transition can feel daunting. Just how do you begin to bridge the gap between the two worlds?
Juliet Turnbull, founder of 2to3days.com, a website matching employers with talented mothers looking for part-time work, says being fully prepared well before you start applying for jobs is vital in making the transition as smooth as possible.
Six tips to help you get work ready after a career break
If you’re planning a return to work after a break, here are Juliet’s top six tips to help you get work ready.
1) Clarity is key
Before even thinking about returning to work, the most important thing is to discover what it is you really (really!) want and then own it entirely. This isn’t a ten minute task. To give yourself the best chance of returning to work, in a job that matches your core wants and desires, it involves you getting to the crux of what those are. Honestly.
TIP: Try to imagine the perfect work scenario: do you want to work from home or are you happy going into an office? Do you want to do the same job as before you had children, or something different? Where does the job need to be based? And how many days and hours do you want or need to work?
These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself and the ‘reality check exercise’ on our site can help you think this through.
2) Get practical
Once you’ve established what you want, it’s time to flip that thinking and get practical. First up you need to create a good CV. If you haven’t written one in a long time (or in my case – 20 years!) it can end up feeling, and reading like, either War and Peace or a quick shopping list on the back of a receipt!
TIP: Don’t torture yourself by trying to be objective – you are simply not the best person to sell yourself – go to a CV writer. These people are trained to ask all the right questions; rearrange the facts of your working life objectively; and weave in all those wonderful, hidden skills.
Alternatively, if you can’t afford a CV writer, lean on your network of friends to offer you an objective perspective of your skills and selling points. Additionally, ask one of our experts on the site to review your CV for you.
3) Keep up to date
Job expectations may have moved on since you were last in employment, so you may need additional training to qualify for your new role. Do some research and ask around about what’s now considered to be the norm in your industry.
It might be that you have to learn about social media, or brush up on any rusty IT skills. So shop around for a good coach, or training in your specialist area, or use a directory of experts like ours where experts are rated by the mothers who use them.
Also, think outside the box, voluntary work can also be a great way to show a future employer that you are committed and up to date with what’s expected. It will also help you to boost your confidence and get you ready to dive back in.
WORD OF ADVICE: It is easy to feel discouraged and ‘out of touch’ when it comes to up-skilling, particularly with regards to technology. Remember though that everyone is in the same boat. Technology is moving at an incredible rate and it’s a myth that everyone gets it.
Work out what it is you need to learn, and accept that you can’t know everything. Whilst this may involve you going outside your comfort zone, it will feel a thousand times more rewarding when you succeed and your confidence will naturally increase.
4) Plan your childcare
When it comes to organising childcare, you need to be your own logistics manager and plan, plan, plan. Whether this involves budding up with friends and swapping days; seeing if your grandparents are willing to lend a hand; getting a job working from home; organising a nanny, or more cheaply, au pair; or sharing childcare with your husband – you won’t want to make these decisions in a hurry or under the pressure of starting a new job.
Be clear about how many days you want to work before you even think about applying for a job makes sense and start your childcare arrangements before going back to work. Additionally, make sure your husband/partner is invested in this as well and work through options together, as there are many, varied, and wonderful alternatives available.
WORD OF ADVICE: Remember that every family/mother has their own parenting technique and what works for one person may not be right for you. A happy mother is a happy child!
5) Focus on the search
Finding work is a job in itself. Carve out some child-free time every day to focus on the job search. This will not only help you feel you are getting closer to your goal but it will also help set up the clear boundaries needed between home and work life.
You don’t want to be sending off a covering letter for your ideal job while bouncing a baby on your lap. You need a clear headspace and a lack of distractions to fully engage and find the perfect job for you. (Need more advice? You can read 11 professional job hunting tips here.)
6) Believe in what you can offer
Too many mothers lose sight of what it is they can offer and what their experience is worth to potential employers. Don’t forget that having and raising children is a job in itself and you have gained experience, maturity, and skills that are invaluable to a business – be that in logistics, time management, working as team, resilience, or delegation.
Revisit who it was you were and what you did prior to having children – you haven’t lost those skills or experiences, they just haven’t been at the front of your brain for a bit – but it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget!
TIP: Along with some close friends, write down on a piece of paper what you/they think your skills are – have your friends identified something different? Often these are things you do naturally and take for granted and therefore readily dismiss, so you’ll be surprised about what comes back and how consistent they are.
Find fulfilling flexible work after a career break
See for yourself how much you, and mothers like you, are sought after by employers across the board and join the 2to3days community. Whether that’s visiting our forums to share your concerns, or registering so that employers can be matched with you, our model has demonstrated that companies value the contribution that you can bring and want you – knowing full well that you are a mother.
You can find out more about 2-3days.com and register for free on their website.Juliet Turnbull