A Guide to Returning to Work
Going back to work after a break is never easy. Karen Daly-Gherabi from Springboard Consultancy shares her tips on making it a little less daunting.
Job hunting is never the most pleasurable experience in our professional lives and returning to work from a career break for whatever reason – having children, illness or looking after a relative can be a daunting process. So in the interests of those considering making that return we tapped up Karen Daly-Gherabi, the MD of Springboard Consultancy, a training and personal development company that works with clients like the Home Office, HSBC, Shell, RBS and Rolls Royce, for some advice. Springboard run a range of courses to inspire and empower everyone to fulfil their potential, whether you are at university, just starting out on your career, have taken a career break, been promoted to a managerial position or for women approaching the ‘glass ceiling’. Karen knows her stuff when it comes to making work work for you, so here are her top tips….
Believe in yourself
Returners often lack confidence in what they can offer an employer. Focus on the skills and key strengths that you bring to the job – they don’t have a sell by date and will give you personal belief and enthusiasm for the role. Don’t forget any voluntary activities that you might have been involved in that can add new strings to your bow such as roles on a school parent association or running a small business.
Identify what you want from work
One important issue that you need to iron out before applying for jobs is what your motivation is for returning to work – exactly what do you want or need in terms of working hours, salary (be realistic, we all want that gin palace!) Being flexible around flexible working is vital, you might not get the exact role that you want but working part-time offers the life balance required.
Network, network, network!
It’s an obvious one, but one that is not always fully exploited. Some people feel reluctant to reach out to people they know but it’s a critical resource and one not to be ignored. Use your personal networks, including friends, family, former employers and colleagues, and develop social networks such as twitter and LinkedIn. Many jobs are advertised this way nowadays and remain the most likely avenue for finding a role.
Turning goals into reality
It’s important to come up with a plan of action when it comes to applying for jobs, Endless trawling of online job boards and firing off countless CVs, with no plan supporting it, will nine times out of ten prove futile as you loose out to someone with more recent experience and be hugely demoralising. Be strategic and creative in your approach – if you’re contacting an employer who doesn’t know you, ask to do a few weeks on a trial basis or a short-term project so that they can see what you’re capable of. Present a good business case for why hiring you on flexible hours makes sense for the organisation. Identify progressive companies who are looking to recruit flexible talent and recruitment agencies supporting returners and returnships – higher-level internships aimed at people returning to a career after an extended career break.
Hone your CV
An area that many worry about is how to describe their career gap on their CV. You don’t need to put it out there in bold letters but neither to you want to hide it with misleading information. One way to deal with the gap is to create a skills based CV rather than a traditional chronological one. This emphasises the skills, experience and qualities that you possess which make you stand out and are particularly appropriate to the position you’re applying for.
Enrol on a return to work programme
Returning to work after taking time out is difficult without recruitment programmes, training and employee support networks. Springboard Consultancy have developed the Fresh Steps personal development programme specifically to enable people to review their professional progress, reassess their priorities and direction and to set and achieve new personal and work goals. With industry speakers and an opportunity to develop business network it’s a great way to kick start a return to work programme for employees or individuals.
There’s one final piece of advice from Karen. Returning to work is the ideal time to move on and develop your career whilst identifying personal goals as well. It’s all about purposeful work and play and finding that balance, whether that’s tackling a Tough Mudder or joining a book club. Anyone fancy a wine-tasting course?
If you’re interesting in finding out more about Springboard Consultancy, the various training courses that they run and how it might be able to help you as an individual or as an organisation then contact Karen for a chat on 020 3794 6730. They have individual courses running in London, Brighton and Birmingham from November onwards. If you’re located elsewhere then get in contact to find out the nearest training to where you live.