Returning to work following a career break can be a daunting journey. Whether you’ve spent time raising your family, taken time off following redundancy or have been travelling around the world, knowing what you want to do and having the confidence to go for it can be difficult.
To help you with your first steps, here are some tips from Work Your Way to get you going.
1. Identify and communicate your skills.
It’s very easy to think that during the time you’ve had off you’ve ‘not done anything’ or anything related to the job you’re applying for anyway. Don’t get bogged down with what you haven’t been doing i.e. employment but do focus your attention on all the skills and experiences you’ve developed in your time sans job.
Had time off to raise children? You’re probably the most organised person, effective negotiator and creative thinker anyone could know.
Refurbished a house? Not only do you have practical skills but you’ve probably spent hours communicating with suppliers and using project management skills to complete the task.
Skills and experiences that are outlined in job descriptions don’t always come from work. By looking elsewhere in your life such as childcare, hobbies, volunteering, etc. you can communicate to potential employers what you’re capable of using current and relevant examples.
2. Keep your mind open and apply anyway.
Research shows that women are less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t meet 100% of the job criteria. In addition to this women are more likely to be caregivers in their family, therefore need flexible work opportunities. As only 1 in 7 jobs in the UK are advertised with flexible working, the field of jobs for women narrows greatly.
Don’t be put off if you don’t meet all the criteria in a job description. The majority of businesses want someone who they can train and shape in their own image. What they need to know is that you’re willing to learn. Use step 1 to identify all of the skills that you do have. Even if they’re not exactly the same, in most cases it’s relatable and transferrable. If you’re a parent, you’ll understand the mind boggling intensity it takes to manage the family diary. Organising someone’s work diary will be an absolute dream in comparison!
In the wake of gender pay gap reporting, #metoo movement, etc. companies are working on improving diversity, however they have a long way to go and we need to encourage businesses to make take those steps.
If you apply for a job that’s advertised as full-time and you don’t get it due to a lack of flexibility then you’ve not lost anything (other than a bit of time preparing your application). However, if you apply and show them how you’re the perfect individual to do the job you at least have opened up the possibility of discussing flexible working. At the very least, give them a call and ask.
3. Ask for help
Sometimes all it takes is a simple phone call to the company you’re applying to. Use this as an opportunity to find out more about what they want and why but also to sell yourself. Do you love the brand? Have you always wanted to work there? Or, are you just that hard working, loyal employee that they need? Getting to know the business and the person managing the recruitment process helps better understand what you can provide to them and also helps you to stand out against other candidates. They’re going to remember the name of the enthusiastic person who called up about the job a couple of weeks ago when they sift through applications and CVs.
Talk to your friends and family. What experiences have they had? What did they do to get their job? What was the recruitment process like? Do they work at the place you’re applying for and do they have any tips?
Local groups such as Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE) are great places to get to know other like-minded women who are business owners and employees. Not only can you learn skills and receive advice and support, it’s a lovely way to network and make new connections in the local area. Ludlow’s WiRE group meets in the first week of every month (apart from August) at 7pm. For further details, check out their Facebook page for more info.
For professional advice and support, Work Your Way offers career coaching and skills development. We have over 10 years experience in recruitment, management and leadership and understand what employers need and want from potential candidates for their roles. From helping you decide what you would like to do, to developing yourself professionally to CV writing and interview coaching, Work Your Way can help you through your career journey. Find out more here or contact Suzanne by email or 07494 895 137.