Dr Amanda Gummer Says...
Dr. Amanda Gummer has dedicated her life to working with children and families in a variety of settings since 1993. As well as running a family support charity in London and teaching children...
Returning to work – part 2: How to get back in the workplace
Applying for jobs is always a nerve-wracking experience and if you’ve been on a career break for a few years it’s not surprising that you might feel daunted. However, there’s no reason to panic, there are thousands of parents every year who successfully re-enter the workplace.
To give mums a helping hand, we asked our expert (and working mum of two) Dr Gummer to give us some pointers:
A lack of confidence is a key barrier to parents returning to their old career after a significant break. Many parents feel that they’ve been over-taken by people they used to be senior to and that they’re out of touch with the latest developments in their fields.
Whilst this may be true for very fast-paced industries such as IT or pharmaceuticals, most of the things you are familiar with before will still be the same in essence, they just might have a fancy new title or be in a different place. So for the majority of people it should be possible to see past the seemingly ‘new’ stuff and not let it daunt you.
Talk to colleagues if you've stayed in touch as I'm sure they'll be happy to offer pointers and get you up to speed of any changes in your old work place. If you're still in contact with your former employer (or even if you're not) it will do no harm at all in getting in touch and seeing if there are any options available.
Research - although training might be the only option for some, you'd be surprised how much you can learn with a quick internet search. If jargon is getting in your way of applcations search to make sure you understand what you're being asked!
However, if you’re really worried that your skills and knowledge might be out of date, you have two options:
Before you start applying for jobs, research the skills and qualifications that are required and get some training to boost your skill set. Any work experience taken in conjunction with this will really stand out and help get you back up to speed, so if you're in a position to, see if you can do a few hours a week of unpaid experience to boost your confidene and skills. Also it's worth knowing that you will have amassed so many skills in your day job of being a mum (but more on that later).
2. Job Roles:
Instead of aiming for a more senior position than you were in before your career break, look for a slightly junior position to the one you left. This will not only help you re-skill but it will show willing and help you acclimatise to working again. Don't see it as taking a step down, it's realistic to think that you won't be able to walk straight into the job that you left. Think of it more as getting a foot in the door, which can be essential for progressing in the future.
And remember, a career break to raise a family is a demanding role and one that will have helped you to develop a range of very transferrable skills. Don’t under-value yourself or your role as a parent by trying to make light of it to prospective employers.
If you want to read more in our Returning To Work series then read the first part here. where Amanda discusses how to boost your confidence and add your mummy skills to your CV: Returning to work: How to find a new, family-friendly job after a career break