08 Jul 2019
If you have taken a career break to start a family and are thinking of going back to work, it’s natural to have feelings of trepidation. But rest assured, you are not alone. In fact annually, 430,000 women in the UK are taking career breaks to look after their children.
Getting a job is daunting enough, so it’s understandable that you may be anxious if you’ve taken a prolonged break from work. You may worry that your skills are outdated because a lot has changed since you’ve been away from the workplace or maybe you just don’t know where to start.
If you feel you’re in this situation, here are some effective tips to help increase your chances of getting hired, but more importantly hired in a job or vocation that you will love.
1. Take Stock
Don’t rush and go straight into job hunting. Think about your strengths, what interests you and what is important to you right now. Many returners make the mistake of jumping straight back into a job role they did previously or dive in at the first job offer. The more informed you are about what you want to do, and the more carefully you plan, the greater your chances of not just landing a job, but it being one you’re genuinely suited to and will enjoy.
2. Don’t underestimate your ability
It is very easy to talk ourselves out of doing something without really investigating how achievable it may be. We are all guilty of saying things like
“I don’t have the experience or qualifications.”
Focus on what you have achieved in your life and your core skills. You may find you have a whole lot to offer and many employers are looking for transferable skills and life experience.
We are often blissfully unaware of our strengths, so why not ask trusted contacts to tell you what they are? Ask them what they think you are good at and you may be surprised at the answers. Don’t talk yourself out of an opportunity without investigating fully.
3. A new start?
A career break is a genuine opportunity to really think through what you want to do in the future and look at your experience to date. Did you like your previous job role?
Was there something else you always wanted to do?
Why not list of all of the jobs you have had and identify what you enjoyed and disliked? Which role or industry provided the most work satisfaction. Are there any particular skills or roles that stand out as ones you love? This is your chance to define exactly what you are looking for so when you do start looking you know in advance the type of role that would make you happy.
4. Update your CV
It’s quite common to believe that a gap in your CV will harm a job application.
However, you can develop this into a positive. If you have not been working for a long period, don’t hide it. Raising a family is “work” which will have enabled you to develop new skills that are equally valuable in the workplace, so why not point this out? If you have completed any additional courses or volunteered for any organisation in the interim, ensure, your CV has this information.
If you need help updating your CV, please see https://www.sthelenschamber.com/startingpoint/free-short-courses-for-jobseekers/produce-a-cv
5. Your network may surprise you
Sometimes the most obvious tip is staring you in the face. Your own network of contacts will likely contain a huge amount of experience and market intelligence, particularly when investigating work options.
Social networks make it easy to locate people who would be useful to speak too. If you haven’t done this already why not set up a LinkedIn profile and start by connecting to people you know. Friends and ex-colleagues are a good start. If you are looking for advice or tips on a job role, there will be people on LinkedIn happy to help; they may even be able to recommend you to potential employers!
6. Focus on you
Don’t get too caught up in well-meaning advice of others or what others may expect from you. Having children is a life-changing experience, and you may not want to do what you have previously done before. People around you may advise you to do role A or role B, but it is important to listen to yourself throughout this process. We spend a great deal of time in work, so it should be something that is both rewarding and fulfilling to you, rather than just bringing home a pay packet.