Returning to work after a two week holiday is sometimes hard so it is no wonder that going back after three, five or ten years can be extremely nerve racking and daunting.
For those many mums that choose to have a career break when their children are small, but are now ready to return to work, here are my top tips:
Use this time to your advantage and think about what you are really interested in and what you actually want to do.
2. Analyse yourself
Take time to properly analyse your talents, skills, motivators and strengths. We all have unique selling points (USP’s)! We are often blind to some of our strengths, thinking that everyone does what we do well. To overcome this I suggest, in addition to you thinking through them, asking six people who know you well to identify what yours are. Once you have done this think through those that you really enjoy using.
3. Review your career to date
Before moving forward, analyse what you have done to date. It is the best place to start looking for clues. Think through and pinpoint your career highs and lows, and identify what you were doing at those times. Also try to identify specifically what you have enjoyed doing or derived real satisfaction from doing.
List the skills that you have been using during your career break – believe me they will be endless!
4. What do you want to do?
Think through what you are interested in. What are you passionate about? What work excites you? No shoulds or coulds here, what do you want?
5. Make a list
To help with confidence make a list of what you have achieved in the past in your career. Also list the skills that you have been using during your career break – believe me they will be endless! – negotiating, organising, persuading, juggling …..
6. Invest time
Allow yourself time to really think things through, to evaluate yourself, your preferences, what you enjoy and what is important to you now.
7. Start slowly
To build confidence and experience, start slowly. Everyone needs to start somewhere. Could your starting point be to attend a course or conference within your area of interest or volunteer with a contact in your chosen field? Could you start on a temporary or self-employed basis? Build your experience…..
8. Get out there
The change is scary but it is not going to come to you. To start moving in the right direction you need to make things happen. Talk to that contact, make that first move. One of my favourite quotes on this is – “If opportunity doesn’t knock build a door’ from Milton Berle. Once you are on the correct path for you doors will open….
9. What is realistic
Look at what is compatible with your lifestyle? What constraints do you have? What do you want or need to be able to do on a day-to-day, week to week, month to month basis?
10. Aim high and give yourself the opportunity
Don’t underestimate yourself. Many times I hear mums say “Ah but that is too hard to get into”, or “I don’t think they would consider me”. Others have done it before you – others will do it in the future. Why not you?
11. Research, network, research, network
Spend time looking into what interests you, talk to people in that area, attend conferences, join groups, volunteer. Research the backgrounds of others who have done well in your desired field. Most often people who have done well in their area and enjoy it are very happy to talk to those who are equally passionate and considering entering their area. See if you can offer something back to them or do some volunteering with them. Learn from others and how they did it. What support do you have, and what do you need?
Charlotte Billington is an experienced Career Coach who helps Mums returning to work. Her recent book, ‘What to do Next?’ could help those that are at this crossroads.
The book contains a series of exercises and questions designed to draw out the individual and unique skills, strengths and motivators of anyone wishing to make a change in their career. Peppered with motivational quotes and divided into manageable sections, each chapter offers a step-by-step process, encouraging the reader to gather information about themselves. Once they are in possession of all of these findings, they will then, in the final chapters, be able to work through what they want to do next.
What To Do Next is Now Available from Amazon and is priced from £16.80.