While you are pregnant, chances are you had to plan around when and if you would be returning to work.
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Would it be the same role, the same hours or something completely different?
Then perhaps once you had your baby, things started to change. Maybe the focussed career woman in you suddenly began to play second fiddle to the nurturing mother. Maybe the domestic bliss you dreamed of was not quite reality and you started to long for the office. Or maybe your financial circumstances changed and you either needed to or did not need to return to work.
I meet so many return to work mums who threw out their original plans and ended up doing something different.
The reality is that it is very difficult to know what motherhood is like until you are in the throes of it. The impact that it will have on you, your feelings and your future are mostly unknown.
For the women who do stick to their plans to return to their pre-baby employer, this can be a fairly easy transition. They know the work environment, have an established role and relationships and are often in a familiar enough position to request the flexibility that they need to find the balance for their family.
Going back to work is a tougher proposition when you have been out of the workforce for more than 12 months and are looking to get a role with a new employer. Often we find ourselves talking with mums who have not updated their resumes for over a decade, nor attended an interview. The long service with their previous employer means that they have not been on the job market for a long, long time.
Breaking it down into bite sized chunks is the best way to approach your return to work. Chip away until you have all the pieces of the puzzle that you need to get yourself out into the job market.
Here are some tips:
Be clear what you are looking for. This will include type of role, hours, location, salary, days you can work or days you can’t and industry. If you have non-negotiables then make sure you are clear on these. If other areas are preferences then rank them so you know what is important to you.
How will you be able to do this? Who will look after your child when you return to work? How will you fund child care? How will you split responsibility for the domestic chores when you return to work? Who will do drop off and pick ups? What happens if your child is unwell? Sorting this out well in advance of finding a role will help you to present confidently in interviews.
Your resume probably needs an update. Make sure your most recent role is on there and that you have a resume which will have impact. You can search on the Internet for resume templates, there are many free ones out there. You can also see a recruitment agency as they will give resume tips. Or you can sign up for a resume review session with a company like Playroom to Boardroom.
4) Finding a role
Flex those networks. Let all your family, friends and ex-colleagues know you are back on the market. I estimate that more than 50% of the mums who we work with find their first return to work role through their contacts.
Update your LinkedIn profile. Join local Facebook job boards and groups. Sign up with recruiters in your area and your industry. Check online job websites.
If you haven’t had an interview for a long time then you may feel nervous or unprepared for upcoming interviews. If so then you can quell some of the nerves by preparing well. Get online and find out company information. Research your interviewer online if possible. Prepare some questions that you would like to ask.
If you want to practice, ask one of your friends or family who recruits for their company to give you a mock interview. Alternatively do some online research of common questions.
Remember that you want to present as naturally and authentically as possible so try not to go in with memorised speeches as your personality might not shine through.
This is a huge issue. I can not even begin to count the number of qualified, experienced, articulate women who I have done return to work sessions with. When we look at the resumes and then meet with these women our initial reaction is that they will be snapped up quickly. Their perception is often very different, they only see challenges.
One thing I always tell my return to work mums, is that they still have all the skills and knowledge they had before they went on parental leave. Everything they could do then, they can still do now. Plus they now have additional skills honed through motherhood.
Make sure you realise that you are still a valuable addition to any team, and allow yourself some “treats” to boost your confidence such as new interview clothes.
Working through these steps in your own time means that by the time you get your resume out there, you will be focused on what you want with the confidence to believe that you are a strong candidate to do it.
It is important to remember that it may not happen over night.
Keep chipping away, applying for roles and if you have the opportunity, childcare and flexibility then perhaps put yourself forward for some temp work or some volunteering to expand your network and improve your chances of a successful return to work.
Do you have any tips to add? Please SHARE in the comments below.
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