This post is the second of several where I will share the information I picked up while interviewing Tanya Clonan from Resumes Plus. She is an expert in the field of job search and resume creation and I have picked her brain on everything from what to do while you are still on leave to what to wear to an interview to what to include on your resume.
For many of you reading this series you are on leave, but not sure when you will return to paid work. I wish I had this advice years ago as I have ticked off the years (9 of them) at home with a lack of intention about my transition back to working, making it up as I went along. While you are on leave there is much you can do to prepare ahead of time for the day you do return to paid work.
Keep in touch with your industry (and company if on maternity leave/plan to return eventually)
- maintain your membership to any industry body and read their publications
- stay connected to people you worked with, industry contacts
- follow blogs related to your field of work
- subscribe to / read publications that will keep you informed of the industry developments and company comings and goings
- follow what systems are being used, new technology being used, developments that are affecting the whole industry
- keep abreast of what issues are going on, stay in the loop, read the newspapers and magazines that cover relevant issues
This does not have to be constant (do as much as you can or want) and can be focused in greater effort in the lead up to your planned re-entry.
Tip from my Human Resources Manager contact Jo: For those who are on Linked in keep connected to your professional contacts. At times do something to your profile so you pop up in their feeds. This can be as simple as making a new contact or updating your details.
Take up the right roles while on leave
If an opportunity arises and is either related to your skill set, or will allow you to gain new skills you can use, consider taking on these short term (or shorter hours) roles. Even if the monetary gain is small after child care be open to the long term gain both in terms of maintaining your skills and contacts; and opportunities that may arise further down the track.
I also asked about taking on roles like childcare for people you know or retail work (quite common due to flexible hours and availability of positions) solely for the sake of updating your resume. It was agreed (as above) that unless it uses or adds skills then don’t do it just for the sake of updating your resume. This is different than someone taking on the role for needed cash of course. The point being don’t feel pressure to take on a role to knock “parenting duties” off the last spot in your resume. Work if you want or need to, not for updating the resume. There is little gain to be had there from an unrelated role so weigh that up before seeking out a first job back in the paid work force.
From my non-expert perspective I do think a gain could be had for many women in terms of confidence boosting and that should not be ignored. If a short term job gives you the boost needed for the next stage of re-entry then I definitely would consider it.
Don’t let your tech skills slide
As much as is possible while on leave stay on top of the skills you already had and consider updating as time passes. While most jobs will update you / teach you specific technology needed it is in your best interest to stay current or brush up before your return.
Other ways to prepare for your return
- voluntary roles – can give you a foot in the door, new skills gained, transition your household for your later return to work
- study – especially if you want a specific path back into working
- keep a hand in your old workplace – stay on email lists if relevant or allowed, accept consulting or project work when it works for you, attend training offered
- internships / work experience / unpaid work opportunities can give you insights into a possible career, skills, and contacts so if you want to work somewhere this may be a way to get in the door even if they are not hiring.
Undertake study or enter the workforce at a low (er) level
This is one of the biggest questions women have if they have been home a long time. It can feel overwhelming to return to work and study can feel like a safe re-entry plan. As a lifelong learner I was keen to get a Master’s Degree in a new field since I have no plans to ever return to my old job or fields I have worked in over the last 18 years. I asked both Tanya and Jo about this issue and they were in agreement that work trumps study almost every time.
- Take the entry level job and gain experience while being paid. In the time it takes to complete a course you may move up to the next level in the company / business (and were earning money all that time)
- If a role develops (or you are on a certain path), and they want you to study, companies will often pay for it and/or offer support. Even if they don’t pay (or you don’t want to accept company terms) you can claim this study on tax and still work out a flexible arrangement with your employer.
- You can get an entry level position in a company that offers great growth opportunities and learn more about other areas of business. You might start out as an administrative assistant and find yourself moving into Human Resources in a year’s time.
Further reading: This article at Working Mum Australia covers tips on childcare that could save you money when you return to work or study.
Do you have any tips to add for the time at home and transition back to paid work?
Find your simple,
About Tanya Clonan and Resumes Plus: Click through to read more about what services they offer.
“At Resumés Plus, we are experts in our field. It’s our responsibility to establish what it is that you have to offer the employer that others do not. We achieve this through ensuring that all your relevant achievements, expertise, career history and attributes are clearly demonstrated to give you the competitive edge over other candidates.”
Return to work series:
Getting started - with Allison Tait (and giveaway of Career Mums book which ends July 19)
While on leave - career breaks
On Flexibility - temp jobs, flexible hours etc