If you are planning to go back to work once your child starts school perhaps after a career break or you are currently on maternity leave, you’ll love my 12 essential steps to go back to work with confidence. This is a flavour of what you can expect in my when you work with me on a one-to-one basis.
Women make up nearly half of the workforce in the UK and more than 80% will become mothers during their working life.
There are worthy initiatives to change workplace culture, offer quality part-time work, re-think job design, develop strong returner programmes and better manage the talent pipeline so that the UK avoids critical loss of skills and experience.
However the sad truth is that valuable potential and experience is often lost when women combine childcare and work. Often women lose confidence or feel a loss of identity or simply feel overwhelmed at the decisions and choices.
This series of posts explores the 12 essential for ambitious women who want to go back to work with confidence.
1. Understand your values
We all work for different reasons. Some mums want to go back to work for the social interaction; for others it’s a financial necessity; it could be to feel valued; or for the intellectual stimulation. It is important to understand your values and identify what is most important for you so that you can identify how and why you want to work. I delve into this much more detail when I work with clients on a one-to-one basis.
2. Identify your skills and strengths
When I work with clients, very often the career they had previously is NOT the career they want to return to. Once you understand your values, you can overlay your key achievements and identify the skills and strengths you used. Don’t think just about the skills that you acquired in your previous career – what new skills have you learnt as a parent? When I work with groups, we explore this thoroughly to get helpful input from everyone in the group.
3. Update or create your LinkedIn profile
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile you ARE missing out on employment opportunities. Did you know that 92% of companies use social media for recruitment? In the past 3-4 years, there has been an explosion in the way that social media is used for recruitment and LinkedIn leads the way (93% of companies), ahead of Facebook (66%) and Twitter (54%).
If you didn’t have a LinkedIn profile before, it is now an absolute essential in your career toolkit. You need to create a powerful LinkedIn profile even if you’ve taken a career break so that employers come looking for you.
If you already have a LinkedIn profile, start using it now to rebuild your career and business network. You can use LinkedIn to network effectively and rebuild your career connections, without leaving the house.
4. Refresh your CV
If you stepped off the career ladder for a few years, you may need to refresh your CV. Don’t forget to include new skills and achievements from volunteering. Read my post at Birds on the Blog for more ideas on how you can use parenting skills on your CV.
5. Organise childcare
Yes I know, childcare is not cheap. Many of my clients decide the time is right to go back to paid work when their youngest starts at primary school. However you still need to think about childcare for those pesky INSET days; the days your child is sick; the childminder is sick; the school is used as a polling station; extreme weather conditions. Have backup plans – you might never need to use them but they’re worth having for the peace of mind alone.
6. Use your KIT days wisely
If you are returning after maternity leave, use your Keeping In Touch days wisely. You can work up to 10 days while on maternity leave. They are optional and they can be a valuable way of ensuring that you are not ‘out of sight, out of mind’ or for ensuring that you are up-to-date on any mandatory training you might be required to take.
7. Do the maths
You need to think about the costs of childcare plus the cost of commuter travel vs projected income. If you have taken time to understand your values and what’s most important to you, it may well be that even if the outgoings outweigh the income, going back to work makes sense from a social, intellectual and long-term career standpoint.
8. Flexible working rights
Flexible working covers a broad spectrum including part-time hours, job-sharing, traditional flextime or working from home. My free Flexible working worksheet provides more information and additional resources. All employees now have the right to request flexible working although you need to have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks. However this does not mean that you can’t request flexible working at the beginning of your employment.
9. Negotiate the household arrangements
The bulk of the household management, budgeting and chores fall to the stay-at-home parent. When you go back to paid work, sit down with your partner and “renegotiate” the arrangements. That might sound too “corporate”, but let’s be frank, it takes two to make a baby. Why should you do everything? What can you outsource e.g. ironing or cleaning? Build this into “No 7 Do the maths“.
It’s not just the household chores you need to discuss. What will happen if one of your children is sick and has to take time off school. Who will stay at home? Will this depend on who has what meetings or clients? Having the discussion now makes it easier to talk about it if , or rather when, the worst happens.
Often overlooked when we go back to work – you will have less time for planning, shopping and cooking meals. Read this post to discover tried & tested ideas from other mums such as using a meal planner, food shopping online, batch cook and freeze meals at the weekends.
11. Good on the outside, good on the inside
For many women, how we look on the outside (dress, hair, makeup) helps us to feel good on the inside. If you are going back to a different employer or career, check the dress code. The workplace has become much more casual in the past few years. If you are changing sector, the dress code may be completely different to what you are familiar with. Give your wardrobe a revamp and review with a critical eye. While you’re at it, a hairstyle that is quick and easy to manage makes sense too. As a working mum, you’re always in a rush so this is an essential.
12. Prepare for the separation
For many mums, the hardest part about going back to work is the separation from their child/ren. In a recent study, 54% of mums said they didn’t want to leave their baby. You may well skip up the road when you drop your child off for the first time and be literally running back down the road 5 minutes later. It’s ok for this to be hard at first.
In the first week or month, you may be thinking “I’ve made a big mistake”. Don’t make hasty decisions. Think back to why you are going back to work and what’s most important to you. Build a support network so you have other mums around who understand what you are going through.
Read the full series of posts
- Understand your values – read post
- Identify your skills and strengths – read post
- The all-important LinkedIn profile – read post
- Seven tips for your CV – read post
- Childcare options when you go back to work – read post
- Use your KIT days wisely – read post
- Do the maths – do the sums add up? – read post
- Flexible working rights – read post
- Negotiate the household arrangements – read post
- Tips on meal planning – read post
- Go back to work looking good and feeling good – read post
- Prepare for the separation – read post
Never too soon to start planning
If you have taken a career break, or you’ve been on maternity leave, these 12 essentials will help start to go back to work with confidence. It’s never too soon to start planning.
The mums that I often talk to feel overwhelmed and stressed, or stuck in a rut and not sure how to get out. They know they want to go back to work but don’t know where r how to start planning. Often they lack confidence. They know they need help, but they’re not sure what or how. If you know you WANT to go back to work, but you also know that you could do with some help, let’s have a chat to see how I can help you. Often a conversation is all you need.