At the start of the summer holidays, I shared 5 things you can do this summer to boost your career options AND take 5 minutes or less. I know it’s unrealistic to expect mums to spend hours on refreshing their CV or updating their LinkedIn profile during the summer holidays.
Several of the mums I’ve talked to recently are settling children into Reception. Every school seems to do this differently, some doing half days for the first week, or the first two weeks.
A quick reminder of the 5 things I suggested before:
1 – Get clear on your values i.e. what’s most important to you.
2 – Update your LinkedIn profile photo.
3 – Reach out to former work colleagues
4 – Sort out your Hell Yes – Hell No list
5 – Share your plans on social media
Today I am sharing 5 more things that you can do in 5 minutes or less AND that will help you go back to work after a career break or redundancy, or if you’re on maternity leave and want to know your career is still on track. Or you’re simply looking to change employer.
5 things you can do in 5 minutes or less
1 – Get feedback from former work colleagues
I’m often surprised that some women struggle to acknowledge their skills and strengths. Maybe you’re modest or you don’t like to be seen as pushy.
Sometimes you genuinely don’t realise you have a particular skill because it’s something that comes so easily and so naturally to you. One mum I worked with was completely unaware that she had a skill for creating and organising brilliantly successful events. She had no idea that for others, this is hard work. For her it was easy. “Well it’s common sense, isn’t it“.
Get feedback from former work colleagues on your skills and strengths. Or if you’ve been volunteering while on a career break or maternity leave, ask fellow volunteers.
Here’s sample text that you can simply copy & paste into email and of course adapt to suit your style. Don’t be tempted to add to much ‘fluff’ or story at the beginning. Fluff out, fluff in. People will tend to respond in kind!
I’d love your help please. I’m doing a career development programme. My task today is to get feedback from friends and work colleagues who can be honest, open and objective. Immediately I thought of you.
Here are three questions I’d like you to answer:
- What do you think I am good at i.e. my skills, talents and strengths?
- What could I do more of?
- What could I do less of?
Thanks so much for your help.
p.s. it would be really helpful if you could do this week”
P.S. The p.s. is really important because it will focus their mind on doing this quickly! AND most people will be drawn to the PS at the bottom. (Watch out for mine).
2 – Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn
I’m not listening if you tell me “I don’t like LinkedIn, I don’t want to use it.” Quite honestly, if you are not on LinkedIn in today’s job market, you are missing out. It’s essential for Career Break Mums to be on LinkedIn and learn how to use this tool effectively.
Let’s assume you are on LinkedIn. I want you to write down the names of 3 people that you would like to recommend you. Whose recommendation would make the most impact to a recruiting manager? Be brave. Beside their name, note down the skill or project you want them to specifically comment on – that helps the person you ask and makes it easier for them to recommend you.
Recommendations make a good impression on recruiters. You don’t need hundreds of recommendations.
Two or three well-written recent ones which highlight your skills and talents will have a bigger impact than a dozen recommendations which simply say “Sherry’s a great coach”.
See how much more powerful this wording is:
“Sherry has a natural ability to pick up on someone’s strengths and when you work with her she will help you get clear on what those are so you can really focus on what you are good at doing (even if you are not sure what these are).”
When you ask for a recommendation, ask the connection to comment on specific skills or a particular project. Make life as easy as possible for the person you’re asking. And don’t be shy about reminding them if they haven’t responded.
3 – Review your LinkedIn professional headline
Your professional headline needs to reflect your experience and expertise e.g. Experienced Marketing Project Manager or Award-Winning Lawyer or Social Media Expert rather than your job title e.g. Practice Manager.
It needs to tell an immediate story of who you are, what you do and how you help. However, you are limited to 120 characters.
Think about the keywords that a potential employer or client might search for and include 2 or 3 of those in your professional headline.
Here’s mine as an example:
4 – Block out time in your diary
If you are serious about going back to work, whether to the same career or a different career, you’ve got to be serious about allocating time in your diary.
Take 5 minutes now to block out at least 30 minutes in your diary every day. Perhaps it’s the first thing you do when you get back from the school run. Or you take half hour at lunchtime. Pick a time that will work for you most days of the week. Get into the habit of spending 30 minutes a day on reaching out to former work colleagues, updating your LinkedIn profile, catching up on latest industry news, browsing the job pages.
If you can, put time in your diary once a week so that you can meet former work colleagues for a coffee or lunch to rebuild your career network. (see no 5 below)
5 – Follow up with former work colleagues
If you did the 5 things in my earlier post, you have already reached out to connect with former work colleagues to let them know that you are planning your return. Now it’s time to follow up with those connections.
Your email doesn’t need to be too formal. Simply drop them a line “I’m in the City Monday lunchtime. Are you free for lunch? I’d love to catch up with how things are and let you know about my back to work plans.”
Don’t worry too much about how it’s going to received or whether they’ll remember you. Of course they will. You remember them, don’t you? If that’s a worry, mention a common connection or a shared project.