Returning to work after having a baby – what to do
Returning to work after having a baby can be a scary time – especially if you’re looking for a new job. It’s so long since you’ve set foot in an office, let alone prepared for an interview!
To help you feel more confident and prepared for your post-baby job hunt, part-time recruitment experts CJ Talent share their advice on how to find and apply for your perfect role.
Returning to work after having a baby
For many, returning to work after having children can feel like a monumental struggle. Firstly there are the natural concerns that plague any mother returning to work:
- Will my children suffer emotionally or developmentally without my care?
- Who will take care of them if I have to work late?
- What if they become ill while I’m at work?
Then there are the worries about home life:
- How will I fit in the weekly shop as well as cook healthy meals every night?
- Is it even possible to have a fulfilling career and a rewarding home life, or will I need to make compromises somewhere along the line?
While nobody can tell you it’s easy, it is all achievable. The key to getting the most out of your home and work life is planning ahead. With that in mind we thought we’d look at the steps you’ll need to make your return to work as easy as possible.
Decide what type of role is right for you
The first thing you need to do is decide what type of role you want to look for.
Every mother’s situation is different. Some have a wide support network of friends and family, while others rely solely on childcare. Some have one child at nursery for half a day whilst others have children in primary or secondary school.
Whatever your situation it’s essential that you work out the type of work is best for you. Remember there are no right decisions, only decisions.
Think about the ideal working patterns that would work for you. Many organisations are embracing alternative ways of working and flexible and reduced hours options may well be available for you as opposed to full time.
Some typical working patterns you might find are:
- Flexitime – you work a specified core period, usually equivalent to 50% of a working day. It’s then your own responsibility to make up the remaining hours.
- Reduced hours – in other words, part time. Many companies are redesigning jobs to enable them to be done in less than full time hours.
- Compressed hours – fit in a set number of hours over fewer days, such as a full time role in four days.
- Staggered hours – allow you to start and finish work at different times.
- Job share – allow you to share a full time job with another person.
- Working from home – for many people they can commit to a full time role if there are options to work at home some of the time.
Regardless of the working pattern, it’s likely that you will be expected to be flexible to get the job done so consider whether you can meet other work commitments such as travel or attending the odd out of hours meeting or function. Be sure to work out your childcare and back up plans in advance to ensure your return to work runs smoothly.
Prepare and plan your job search
Start by including any soft skills that you’ve developed whilst being a mother, such as organisation, time management, planning, and communication. Don’t shy away from the fact that you’ve been out of work and be proud of your achievements, framing them in a way that shows the experience has added to your arsenal of skills.
LinkedIn can help you remain relevant within your niche, keep up to date with industry news and to network with your peers. Join groups relevant to your area of expertise and become an active member to aid your networking efforts.
Active group members can receive up to four times more profile views, so this tip could really help you to get on the radar of recruiters and employers of interest.
Apply for roles and attend interviews
Whether at the application or the interview stage, it’s vital that you do a little digging to learn about the company’s culture towards mothers and flexible working. Do they already have a flexible working policy? What tools can the company offer to facilitate remote working to ensure you feel valued and part of the team?
Once the interviews start to roll in your efforts should turn to preparation. Start by researching the company and becoming familiar with the job description and person specification.
The next step is to identify specific examples to help demonstrate how your experience matches the responsibilities in the job description. The STAR technique is a helpful approach for formulating your answers.
This helps you to describe the ‘Situation’ of your example, the ‘Task’ that was required of you, show what you actually did in the ‘Activity’ and demonstrate the ‘Result’ of your efforts.
This will help to give your answers structure and ensure that it easy for your interviewer to understand and imagine you doing the same for them in the proposed role.
Good luck and happy hunting!
Need more help with your post-baby job hunt?
You’ll find more great advice in these articles:
- How to create a job hunting plan.
- Do I need to take a more junior role after a career break?
- Looking for work after a career break? Five tips to get you started.
- What to do when your job hunt stalls.
Find out more about CJ Talent, register for exciting part-time opportunities and view their free, advice-packed webinars.