Five tips for returning to work after a career break

Five top tips for mums to make a confident return to work after having children. 


1.    Acknowledge your new skills.  Running a home, managing the children and your life develops your people skills, your creative problem solving, your negotiation skills, your ability to multi-task, and your time management.   Acknowledge these skills and although you may not include mediating with a toddler so that he goes to bed without his wellies on in your CV, when you apply for a job remember these are valuable, useful skills that you will undoubtedly use at work so be proud and confident in you.

2.    Remember the working you: Whether you have been on maternity leave for a few months or have had a few years out of the workplace it can be really daunting to think about returning.  You may believe that all of your skills and experience have disappeared.    But trust me, they are still there.    To remind yourself, make a list of great feedback you had from colleagues or bosses, remember and write down those things you did at work that really made you proud and think about the great working relationships you built.  You did all of those things!  Be confident and hold your head high.   

3.   Update your CV.  When you are updating your CV ready to start applying for jobs, think about your skills and experience from a potential employer’s perspective and how these will benefit them.  Include any voluntary work you’ve done while you’ve been out of the workplace– involvement in the school PTA, organising charity events, running a local book-club for example.   These all show that you have been active while out of the workplace and will have developed useful skills.   Show potential employers how you’ve kept up to date with your industry while you’ve been off too perhaps by reading relevant publications, webinars etc, attending a course or workshop.

4.    Use a variety of job searching strategies: Don't rely solely on job boards online.    Reach out to your network. You may not think you have a network but everyone does and it’s made up of everyone you’ve ever met for more than a brief moment.   Start to make a list of people you know, other mums, people from clubs, previous colleagues, family, and friends of family and start to connect or reconnect with them.  Let people know you are looking for work and what kind of work you’re looking for ask them to let you know if you hear of anything.   Make a list of companies you’d like to work for and speculatively either take in your CV or find out the contact details for the HR department and email them a copy of your CV asking if they have any vacancies, now or up and coming.

5. Find the right working pattern for you and your family:  Practical considerations like who is going to look after the children - nursery, parents, a childminder will need to be considered.  If you're looking for something more flexible now to help you balance work and family life, then think about more than simply "part time".  Working from home, job sharing, a compressed working week (working 5 days in 4) are all viable options for many jobs and don't be afraid to discuss these at interviews.  More and more employers are embracing flexible working as a way to attract and retain the best talent.  

Good luck!  Amanda