Today we have the first guest post in the return to work series. Please welcome Allison Tait as she gets us thinking about the first steps in the process of returning to the paid work force – before we even send out our first CV or a chat with an agency.
Like to go back to paid work? Here’s where to start
“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…” sings Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, before launching into Do-Re-Mi etc. All well and good, but what happens if you’ve forgotten how the song goes and can’t remember the first notes.
One of the first questions asked by women who’ve been out of the workforce for a while is this one: where do I start? There is something about living in that parallel universe called ‘Being At Home With Children’ that can make re-entering the workforce seem like joining another planet. It can all seem so difficult.
The good news is that the first step is, in fact, the easiest. If you’re looking for work, the best thing to do is to tell the people you know. Use your networks. If people don’t know that you’re looking, they won’t think to tell you about the job that’s going at work, and they won’t think of you if a position suddenly becomes vacant. Let them know. And by them, I mean ‘everyone’. The mums at school. Your former colleagues. The people at the soccer / netball/ gymnastics club. In short, anyone you can think of. Put the word out.
Another great place to start is by immersing yourself in your old industry. If you’ve been out of the loop, get yourself back into it by joining industry associations, signing up for newsletters, subscribing to any relevant trade publications. This helps in two ways – it gets you up to speed with current industry movements, and it helps to remove the ‘foreign’ feeling that can accompany going back to work.
All of which leads to one of the most important starting points of all: confidence. It’s one of the most difficult things to hold onto when you’re at home with kids, and it’s essential for getting you back and running in the workplace. While it’s not an easy thing to foster, you can do it – if you work on it.
Firstly, get yourself feeling good. If you’re fit and healthy and feel good about yourself, it’s a lot easier to take on new challenges. Try a new fitness regime, get a new haircut, buy some new clothes – in short, anything you can to bolster your spirits.
Secondly, work on how you project yourself. Most of us find it difficult to talk about ourselves, but practice can really help. Find someone you trust, and practise talking about your strengths. Sit down and write down a plan of attack for the kind of work you’re after, and how you’re going to go about getting it.
Dust off your CV. Take a long hard look at which bits are relevant and which are not. Write down all your skills – including any new ones you may have picked up due to volunteering at the school or in industry organisations – and look at how you might use them to apply for jobs you’re interested in. Skills are transferable things and – and here’s an important point – they don’t disappear just because you haven’t used them in a while. Have a look at yourself on paper – you might be thrilled with what you see!
What it comes down to is preparation. While many of us think that the first step back into paid work is ringing a recruitment agency or scouring the paper, in many cases it’s more about working out what we really want – and working on our confidence.
You can’t sing an aria without a warm-up.
Allison Tait is the co-author (with Kate Sykes of careermums.com.au) of Career Mums, a guide to returning to work post-kids (you can buy it here). You can find out more about her at http://allisontait.com or visit her blog http://lifeinapinkfibro.blogspot.com
We are lucky enough to have a giveaway of 3 copies of Allison and Kate’s wonderful book which has:
“excellent tips and advice on how to:
- make your job work for you
- negotiate flexible hours
- start a whole new career”
To enter: comment below with your best piece of advice for someone on a job search (could be anything you’ve learned about writing a CV, handling an interview or balancing work and kids – pass on your knowledge). (If you have absolutely no advice to give I hope you win the book so tell me your best job related story!)
Updated to add: the giveaway is now closed. The comments contained so much good advice it was hard to select the winners, but they are Lela, Cyndie (Mademoiselle Slimalicious) and The Mindful Mum.
Find your simple,
The whole series is here:
You can read the first post in the series to see my story of nine years at home with my children and my planned return to offline work next year.
While on leave - career breaks
On Flexibility - temp jobs, flexible hours etc