It’s that time of year. The children have headed off to start their new school or university year and the house feels quiet and empty again. Perhaps this also signals a new start for yourself too? For many of us, this is exactly the time that we start to think about returning to work, but whether it’s just after a long summer break or after a few years out of the workplace this can be a daunting process.
In this two part blog series, we talk to Hopscotch – a careers platform and network for skilled women looking for that perfect work/life balance – and get their top tips on how to get a foot back on the career ladder, as follows:
Returning women represent a rich talent pool that can help to overcome critical skill shortages, boosting an organisation’s diversity and provide measurable benefits such as decreased turnover rates and higher business gains.
Tip #1 – Start with self-analysis
If your circumstances allow, don’t rush into job searching. Time taken to evaluate your values, skills and life stage/responsibilities: A few questions to get you started:
- Are you able to/do you wish to return to your previous occupation?
- What do you value most from work?
- Are your qualifications or certifications current or do they need upgrading? Is further study needed or, indeed, possible now?
- How urgently do you need to return to work? Are you returning for, predominantly, financial reasons?
- If relevant, do you have practical supports in place to assist you and your family with your transition back to work?
- Do you need a position with flexible part-time options and to what extent (if any) are you willing to compromise salary/seniority for this?
- How do you envisage your work week to look? Is starting your own business a viable option?
- What current and emerging occupations/industries are best aligned with your skills and values?
- Are your job expectations realistic and supported by information about the current state of your industry? (More on this below.)
- Are you looking to transition to another career, albeit with retraining if needed?
Career breaks can be a catalyst for change. Assess your options and goals. You might prefer to launch straight back to full-time work in your occupation, or take on some temporary, contract or voluntary work to ease back in and/or explore other sectors or professions.
Tip #2 – Know your industry
Knowledge inspires confidence. Know current trends and labour market information. The websites of professional industry bodies are a great resource. Examine job advertisements and follow specialist recruiters and their industry updates.
Where are the opportunities? What are skills and talent is scarce in this market?
What are employers and recruiters asking for? What has changed or is evolving in your field of work or related fields, and how can you best position yourself to capitalise on this?
Tip #3 – Skills audit
Know your strengths. There are plenty of good online resources to help you identify your skills and assess them against those highly sought after in your industry. Do you need to update your registration or certifications, undertake further training, or upgrade your computer skills with a refresher course? Keep a look out for free or low-cost training in your local neighbourhood or online.
Do look up:
- Linkedin Learning where there are low cost course
- Moocs which stands for Mass Open Courses are free courses
- Coursera and Udemy – short certification courses that are easily accessible
- Remember, most skills are highly transferable to multiple sectors. If, on your career break, you have coached U14 footy, multitasked with a baby, you can most likely problem solve, train staff, manage risk, communicate effectively, organise, negotiate, and plenty more.
Tip #4 – Who is in your village? Make networking connections matter
It is estimated around 60-70% of jobs are not advertised, so it makes sense to enlist the help of people – your best careers resource. Make a list of everyone you know in different facets of your life. Where do they work? Who might they know? Most people will help you or introduce you to others if you ask appropriately and respect their time. Why not reconnect with some former work colleagues, managers or clients, especially if they are currently working in the industry you wish to return to. Do you or any of your friends know someone who has recently returned to work after a similar absence? Friends and connections can also help you spread the word that you are work ready. Don’t be reluctant to ask for help. Think of what you have done to support others in various ways. Also, consider joining a relevant industry association.
Tip #5 – Unpaid work IS relevant – make it work for you
Gain confidence. Volunteering can help you gain confidence by giving you the chance to try something new and build a real sense of achievement.
Make a difference. Volunteering can have a real and valuable positive affect on people, communities and society in general.
Meet people. Volunteering can help you meet different kinds of people and make new friends.
Be part of a community. Volunteering can help you feel part of something outside your friends and family.
Learn new skills. Volunteering can help you learn new skills, gain experience and sometimes even qualifications.
Take on a challenge. Through volunteering you can challenge yourself to try something different, achieve personal goals, practice using your skills and discover hidden talents.
Found this useful? Read Part Two ‘Climbing Back On The Career Ladder’.
Hopscotch is a network for skilled women looking for that perfect work/life balance. We champion, support and connect women who help businesses achieve greatness. Work for your dream company, Connect with inspirational figures and Learn new skills and professional talents.
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Looking for a new job? Take a look at some roles currently on offer, including some fantastic opportunities available through Hopscotch, on our Jobs Board