The chaotic, exhausting, life changing nature of new babies and young children can mean that your previous working life seems very distant from your new, daily reality. Often, this can throw up all sorts of self-doubt and lack of confidence when planning a return to work. Indeed, the world of work after a period of maternity leave can seem like another planet and job hunting an impossible hurdle.
However, be reassured, you still retain the skills and knowledge you had previously. Plus, you will have gained a huge number of additional life skills that can only be of benefit in the workplace. Surely the ability to simultaneously cook dinner, complete an online grocery shop, answer the phone and resolve an argument while wrangling an uncooperative, screaming toddler… on 2 hours sleep… is bound to come in handy at some point? And anyone who has ever tried to convince a three-year old that it’s bedtime has probably developed negotiation skills to rival Alan Sugar. On a more serious note, remind yourself of what you have previously achieved and think positively about your key skills, experience and strengths. They are all still there. When you speak to mums who have returned to work, they are often surprised by how quickly they settled back in.
So, what practical steps can you take to help your return to work?
- Firstly, update your cv and Linkedin profiles: account for any chronological gaps. You are not required to state how many children you have or ages of children on your cv. Stating the dates of your career break to raise a family is sufficient
- Develop a clear idea of what role you want to return to and work towards achieving that, rather than a scattergun approach to job hunting
- Revisit your skills and experience on your cv and ensure that your skills are aligned to the roles you are applying for
- Re-establish your old professional networks. Contact ex-colleagues for a catch-up chat and try and make new industry connections if possible. Ensure that old contacts are aware that you are back in the job market and open to new opportunities
- Research your industry and keep up to date with industry news and the latest developments, trends or innovations
- Register with job boards / job websites and set up searches with specific parameters so that you get alerts on suitable roles only
- Research the job market – find out who is busy and potentially expanding and then research the companies and roles in more detail
- Register your details with a recruitment agency that specialises in your industry and speak to a consultant about what is happening in the job market.
- Research your childcare options – make sure that you know what childcare is potentially available, what it will cost and what number of days / hours you can work. It is better to have the facts up front rather than get midway through a recruitment process and then realise that the commute times won’t work with childcare pick-ups or the salary is not high enough to offset the costs
There are many positives from an employer’s perspective to hiring a candidate with previous experience. So, take stock of your track record, be proud of the additional skills and reserves that you have had to draw on as a parent and be confident in your abilities. For additional help and advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org