For many women, having children turns their life in a different direction. Suddenly work is no longer the main priority and instead, you spend your days at home, bringing up the youngsters and managing all the varied tasks that go with it!
You are now responsible for bringing up the next generation to be capable, honest and dependable adults, which is arguably the most important job in the world! However, once the children are grown or in full time education, many women think about returning to work.
Nevertheless a lot of mothers worry that a long time away from the workforce can ring the death knell on their careers! It can be a struggle to know where to begin but with time and perseverance, a break does not mean the end of your career path!
The first task is always to do a self assessment, to honestly and carefully work out the reasons why you have a desire to return to work. What values and priorities do you have now? What do you want out of a job? What matters the most to you? What does a healthy work/life balance look like? Do you need flexible hours?
These questions will help you to understand what it is you are looking for and what you hope to gain from returning to work. It will also encourage you to begin to think about what it is you want to do. Some women are able to launch themselves back into their previous career, whilst others look for a completely different occupation. Think about what it is that you want to do, what you enjoy and what will fit best with you and your other responsibilities.
Next, take a hard look at your skills and experience. What new abilities do you have? What knowledge or experience do you lack? Take steps to learn or improve on the essential skills you need. Volunteer at events, look for shadowing opportunities, do unpaid work experience or take a course.
All of these things will help to build up your resume and show to potential employers that you have a commitment to improving your abilities and developing your knowledge and understanding. If you can, do a short stint of work experience in the field you’d like to enter.
Work experience can boost your confidence, encourage you to reflect on your strengths and also your areas of weakness, giving you a better understanding of what you need to do and where you need to be in order to find a job you will be happy with. In addition, work experience lets you reflect on your plan to return to this area of work. On one hand it might be everything you hoped for or it may convince you that this is not the right path for you after all.
Ensure that you update your resume with all of your new capabilities and the expertise you have developed through your years at home! Don’t be afraid to admit to employers that you have spent years away from the workplace. Look on it as a learning experience that has helped you to grow in a variety of ways! Many employers value unpaid work as much as paid work when it comes to experience and skill set so don’t be afraid to be honest about what you’ve learned from being a ‘stay at home’ mum.
If you decide to follow your previous career path, then an easy step is to reconnect with old colleagues. Chat to them about the workplace and how things have changed since you left. Ask them to let you know about potential openings. If that is not an option then simply talk to the people that are already in your life! Friends, acquaintances or relatives can help with your job hunt. Networking is a valuable tool in your search!
Be upfront and ask them to let you know if they see any opportunities and take any offer of assistance that will be beneficial to you. A friend might be able to look over your updated resume, an acquaintance might offer to chat through your interview questions or have knowledge about the company you want to work for. Don’t miss these opportunities by keeping your plans to return to work a secret!
Make sure that you have reasonable expectations. Not everyone is able to jump straight back into where they left off. Whilst your years at home have been valuable and given you a number of additional skills, you may have to take a lower salaried, or lower level-led job initially before working your way back up. Don’t become disheartened if you can’t find the job for you straight away. Keep being proactive and ensure you stay organised. The perfect job will find its way to you soon!