How to Prevent Return-to-work Burnout

This guest blog is by burnout expert Cara de Lange, who offers advice on how to prevent burnout when you’re returning to the workplace, particularly if you’re working remotely.

If you are returning to work after having been away from the work front for a while, it can feel like you are stepping back into a different world of remote or hybrid working. Without the ‘switch off’ time of a commute, it’s easy to fall into using that time for extra work or to keep working late into the evening. The feeling of being always ‘switched’ on and not able to disconnect can contribute to feelings of tiredness and fatigue, and may lead to burnout if not addressed. The great news is that, if you are aware of all of this before you get back into work, you can set up some boundaries and habits for yourself to make sure you can switch off and maintain your energy levels.

What is burnout?

The World Health Organisation defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The symptoms of burnout are:

  • A continuous feeling of exhaustion or lack of energy
  • Negative feelings and a distancing from the job role
  • A reduction in professional efficacy.

As well as the three recognised symptoms of burnout, there are a few other signs that may indicate you are heading towards burnout. Things to look out for include a general dissatisfaction with your working environment; regular headaches, stomach aches or issues with your digestion; a constant lack of energy; insomnia and a lack of motivation in all areas of life.

How can you prevent burnout?

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to help prevent yourself from reaching that burnout stage. Here are some useful ways to help you manage your stress and prevent burnout when you return to work.

  1. When you finish your working day at home, put all your work stuff (laptop, notebook etc) away in a drawer or cupboard. Out of sight really can help to make it out of mind!
  2. Be aware of the language you use and speak to yourself with – if you tell yourself you are burned out; the brain will go ‘ok I am burned out then’ and you will feel more tired. Try using positive phrases such as ‘I feel tired but I am working on ways to gain more energy’ or ‘I feel calm and have more energy every day’. Write out some positive affirmations and put them in places where you can easily read them and remind yourself during the day.
  3. Nature nurtures – trees are healing. Take yourself outside and do some ‘forest bathing’. Walking amongst trees can reduce stress and tiredness. If that’s not possible, at least try to get your feet on the grass for a few minutes a day.
  4. When working, make sure to take regular breaks in between meetings and tasks. Micro wellness – super short 60 second breaks – give your mind and body a rest. Something as simple as taking a deep breath before you join that next meeting, giving your toes a wriggle and feeling your palms, gets you back into your body and out of your head.
  5. If your work is consistently stressful, then it may be time to think about making some changes. Perhaps you need to reduce your hours or rearrange your schedule to allow for a little more breathing space. Discuss your feelings with your employer and try to work out a plan to stop yourself from reaching burnout.
  6. Stop wearing the ‘burnout badge of honour’. We are all human and deserve to rest and recover. Get a sleep schedule in place that ensures you get a full 7-9 hours a night and think about cleaning up your diet so that you no longer need to rely on sugar and caffeinated products to help you get motivated.

Try these tips for a few weeks and you will soon notice a change.

 

Cara de Lange is the Founder of Softer Success, an international burnout mentor, coach, speaker and mother. She is also the author of ‘Softer Success – Prevent Burnout, Find Balance & Re-define Your Success’, which details her own experiences with burnout and the techniques she used for her recovery. Cara runs workshops and talks focusing on compassionate leadership, relieving stress and changing people’s mindset to prevent burnout. 

Shall I return to work or not? Ambivalence and transitions

I keep having nagging worries about going back to work, so does that means it’s not the right thing to do?” 

For many career returners, this uncertainty can keep you awake at 4am, inwardly debating pros and cons and never coming to a clear-cut conclusion. Even if you’re really motivated to restart your career, you might be worrying about the impact on your family, or whether the timing is right, or whether you’re ready to disrupt your life. Because you feel ambivalent, you question whether it is the right decision. But if you want to feel 100% certain before starting your return to work job search, this can be a mind-trap that keeps you stuck.

Coping with ambivalence and transition

William Bridges, who has been researching life transitions since the 1970’s, reassures us that few changes are universally positive, “letting go [of our old life] is at best an ambiguous experience“. Even with a positive and much-anticipated change, there will be a sense of loss. So just because you feel confused and unsettled, it doesn’t mean that you are making the wrong choice. Bridges explains that when we make a change in our lives we go through a transition period of psychological readjustment, when up-and-down emotions are completely natural. If we anticipate this unsettled period, we are less likely to retreat back to our comfort zone without even exploring the alternatives.

Overcoming ambivalence

Rather than letting those worries keep you awake at night, a good place to start is to write them down. You can then talk about them with your partner or a friend and work out whether they are genuine concerns or if they are worries that can be overcome. Some may even disappear altogether once you have talked them through.

Another way of getting past your indecisiveness, if you’re stuck endlessly debating rational pros & cons of returning to work, is to use your more intuitive side. These are two ways to do so:

  • Imagine yourself at 70, looking back on yourself today. Is your 70 year old self sympathetic or impatient with your current indecisiveness? What advice would your future self give you? Would she encourage you to make a change and relaunch into the workplace now or to wait a while longer or maybe to make other changes to your life?
  • Imagine two different scenarios of how your life could be a year or two from now. The first scenario being that things have remained as they are. The second being that you have returned to work. How are you feeling? What are the positives of this scenario? What is missing from this scenario? What is the best thing about this scenario? Now take a step back and think about which of these two scenarios is more attractive and fulfilling for you and why. If it is to return to work, you can then go back to rational planning, thinking about what action steps you can and want to take towards making the transition back to work.

Managing transition

To help you manage those ups and downs that you experience both during your job search and when starting in a new role, it’s useful to give some thought to who is in your support network. Who are your supporters and encouragers? Who can be your sounding board and encourage you to take the next steps?

If you start now to take some action steps to prepare for your return, this can also reduce feelings of anxiety about potential negative impacts on your life. For example, if you’re worried about whether your family can cope, try listing out all the chores/activities that you currently do and then discuss these with your partner/children. What can be shared out? Can you outsource something? What can you stop doing?

Once you start to manage your worries and mindset, you are likely to gain more clarity and feel less stuck in uncertainty. Be prepared for those inevitable doubts about your decision to creep in again from time to time, even when you’re back in a fulfilling role. Ask yourself what is the worst and what is the best that could happen? Be brave and take that leap of faith into action.

How to manage uncertainty and take control

Hazel Little, Women Returners Client and Relationship Director, has created a short webinar on “How to Manage Uncertainty and Take Control” as part of our new series to support our network through the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s a summary of some of the key points, with a link at the end if you want to watch the full 10 minute webinar.

In times of uncertainty we can feel overwhelmed. It’s difficult to know where to start, what to do and importantly how to switch off from it all. The pandemic is changing how we live and it’s changing it fast. All of this can make us feel anxious and worried and we risk getting into a negative downward spiral.

Rational v. Emotional

Extreme uncertainty and lack of control affect us mentally. Our rational brains have stepped to the side and our emotional brains are in the driving seat. When we are led by our emotions it makes it difficult to see things clearly, but there is a positive side. Understanding how we feel and what we’re anxious about, can drive us to take control and motivate us to take action.

Taking Control

Stephen Covey’s Circle of Concern is a great framework to help you to work out what actions you can take.

  • There will be a large number of different things that you are concerned about right now, including how the crisis will impact your return to work. Identify and write a long list of these concerns – these populate your Circle of Concern
  • Flag those concerns where you can directly control the outcome – these come within your Circle of Control
  • For the remainder, challenge yourself to see if there is any action at all you can take to influence a positive outcome. If so, these come under your Circle of Influence. For example, your concern might be “employers have put recruitment on hold, I’m not going to be able to return to work”; you can’t control when they start recruiting again but you can influence the outcome by getting your CV updated or make use of free courses to upskill online to ensure you are in a stronger position when the time is right to apply.

Focus as much as possible of your time, energy and attention on addressing concerns within the Circles of Control and Influence, rather than focusing on what is out of your control. You may well find that your Circle of Influence gets bigger if you think this way. By deliberately taking relevant actions to improve the outcome, you are likely to feel more productive, calmer and happier.

Other Top Tips to Manage Uncertainty

  1. Surround yourself with positive people – stay connected with your support groups and seek out people who help you to feel more optimistic
  2. If you’ve time, look for growth opportunities – upskill online or read articles relating your field. This will help you feel more knowledgeable and it’s great distraction
  3. Set small achievable goals – refresh your CV/cover letter or prepare for a virtual interview process, taking it a couple of small steps at a time
  4. Look after yourself – you’re on an emotional roller coaster and that is draining both physically and mentally. Read a book, enjoy a little quiet time, be kind to yourself.

Find out more

In our short webinar, How to Manage Uncertainty and Take Control, you’ll find more information on the nature of uncertainty, the importance of regaining control and advice on how to look after your emotional well-being.  You can watch the webinar here.

For more details on our COVID-19 Support Webinars see: Free Webinar Series

Realistic optimism and Covid support

With the worries, uncertainty and practical changes resulting from COVID-19, we are developing new ways to support the Women Returners community over the coming months.
We’re planning a series of free short webinars with advice on topics such as coping with uncertainty and virtual interviewing. Watch for announcements on womenreturners.com and we’ll put out a summary from each webinar on this blog. In the meantime, here are some initial tips on coping in the current climate.

Pause for Perspective

Given our predisposition to negative thinking, it’s easy for our minds to race to the worse possible outcome right now, whether this be our chances of getting back to work after a break, the health of our family or the state of the world economy. You may be feeling anxious and frustrated that your plans are put on hold for an uncertain period of time, and even wondering if you’ll now ever get back to work.

This is the moment we need to pause and to consciously try to regain perspective before accepting the worse case scenario. We’re not suggesting ignoring the crisis – we’re well aware that these are some of the toughest times many of us will face. However, it is a moment to aim for a mindset of ‘realistic optimism’, as psychology research has found this can help to boost your resilience and motivation in difficult situations.

What is Realistic Optimism?

This isn’t about putting your head in the sand or blind optimism. As psychologist Sandra Schneider tells us, optimism and realism are not in conflict – we need both. Realistic optimists are cautiously hopeful that things will work out the way they want and will do everything they can to ensure a good outcome. The realistic optimist finds out the facts and acknowledges the challenges and constraints she faces. Her optimism comes into play in her interpretation of ambiguous events and uncertain situations such as the one we’re currently in. She recognises that many situations have a range of possible interpretations and chooses a helpful rather than an unhelpful one. She is aware of the positives as well as the negatives in each situation and actively looks for future opportunities, focusing on what she can control rather than what she has no influence over.

Find out the Facts

To build this more resilient mindset, and avoid getting into a downward mental spiral, it helps to look out for and consider some positive facts alongside the overwhelmingly negative ones. For example, in the context of returning to work:

  • The hard reality is that many people are facing unemployment and a lot of recruitment is being put on hold. However, a significant number of employers are adopting a ‘business as usual’ attitude, adapting rapidly to a virtual world. There are still many jobs being advertised and we’re finding this is applying to returner programmes as well as regular recruitment.
  • Some businesses have an upturn of demand in the current climate and are facing skills shortages and increasing recruitment (such as Amazon).
  • There is a widespread call for nurses, midwives, occupational therapists and other healthcare specialists who have left the professional register to return to the NHS to cope with the crisis.
  • Indications from countries who were affected earlier are that the effects are time-limited and so we can all plan for normality starting to return after the summer.

Ease the Pressure on Yourself

It will help you to gain perspective if you relax the pressure you’re putting on yourself. If your family is sick, or you now have children at home all day, your priorities will inevitably shift. That’s OK. You don’t need to completely abandon your Back to Work To-Do List, but it may be put on hold for a while and you definitely won’t make the same progress you were making before.

Similarly if you do now have school-age children at home, forget perfect parenting and be flexible about adjustments you all need to make. Try to establish a routine that works for everyone and don’t put yourself at the bottom of the pile.

You can find more practical tips on maintaining your mental health in this Forbes article: Coronavirus creating stress? And LinkedIn has put out 16 free courses including managing stress for positive change and building resilience .

For those of you with more time on your hands now, you can find advice on upskilling and improving your chance of a successful return to work when normality resumes in our Advice Hub. And Sign up to our free Women Returners Professional Network to receive our emails and updates with more support and advice.

Returning to work? Don’t let Imposter Syndrome hold you back

Do you sometimes feel that you don’t deserve your success or that your achievements are flukes that can be put down to just good luck? Do you feel that it’s only a matter of time until you are ‘found out’?

If you do then you’re certainly not alone. These feelings are so common they have a name – Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome was first identified by psychologists in 1978. There are three defining features: a belief that others have an inflated view of your abilities, a fear that your true abilities will be found out, and a tendency to attribute your success to luck or extreme effort. There have been many studies into Imposter Syndrome since then, including one in 2011 that found that 70% of people will experience the phenomenon at some point in their lives. And it’s not just a ‘women’s issue’ –  research now suggests that men are just as likely as women to experience impostorism. 

Imposter Syndrome is most common when we’re moving out of our comfort zone and facing periods of change or uncertainty … such as returning to work after a long career break.

If Imposter Syndrome strikes, here are our tips to help you tackle it:

1. Remember these feelings are normal. Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone, even people who seem to be the most confident and capable. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has been quoted as saying: “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.” And even Albert Einstein considered himself an “involuntary swindler.” 

2. Avoid putting your successes down to luck. Write down all your career and personal achievements to date, and think about the role that your abilities and hard work played. It will become clear to you that your successes were largely due to your hard work and abilities – not ‘just luck’. Read this blog for advice. 

3. Reconnect with your professional self. If you’re doubting yourself because it’s been a while since you were in the workplace, remember that you are the same professional person you always were, you are just out of practice. Aim to reframe your time outside the workplace as a positive not a negative.

4. Ask friends and family for feedback on your strengths and skills.
 Listening to what others say about what you do well will help you challenge your negative thoughts. Remember – you’re often your own harshest critic.

5. Keep a feedback log. Once you’re back in a new role, keep a log of all the positive feedback you receive – via formal feedback sessions, thank you emails or verbal compliments. If Imposter Syndrome does hit, look at this log to remind yourself that you are a competent and experienced professional who deserves to be where you are.


Sign up to our free network for more advice, support and job opportunities.You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

How to develop a growth mindset

Psychologist Carol Dweck is one of the world’s leading authorities on motivation. Throughout her career she’s focused on why some people succeed and others fail.

In her TedTalk (above) – Developing a Growth Mindset – Dweck explains that those who have a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence and abilities are static and that they don’t have the capacity to change. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset know that these qualities can be continually developed and improved through hard work and persistence. 

In adults returning to work, a fixed mindset can manifest itself in thoughts like “I’m too old to move into a new area”, “I’m hopeless with new technology” or “I’m no good at networking”. Remaining open to growth and self improvement will greatly improve your chances of success in finding a satisfying and fulfilling role.

How to adopt a fixed mindset

1. Believe in the power of ‘not yet’. In her TedTalk, Dweck gives the example of a school in Chicago which replaced a ‘fail’ grade with ‘not yet’ and saw a huge improvement in student performance. If your job application is rejected, a ‘not yet’ attitude can stop you from giving up and encourage you to explore different option and strategies to achieve your goal.
2. Don’t see obstacles that stand between where you are now and where you want to be as immovable barriers, but rather as challenges or hurdles to overcome – opportunities to develop new skills and acquire more experience.
3. Seek out feedback with an open mind. We know it’s difficult, but try not to see negative feedback as a judgement of your competence but rather as an opportunity to learn and grow. Listen to what family, friends and former colleagues tell you, and make sure you ask for specific feedback if your job application is rejected after interview. What you learn can help you make changes to bring you closer to success next time around.
4. Take action. Adopting a growth mindset means believing in the power of neuroplasticity, that the brain can continue to make new connections in adulthood or strengthen connections that you haven’t used for a while. You can help to realise your own potential through learning new skills or practising ones that are a bit rusty.
5. Move out of your comfort zone. Conquering something that scares you is a useful way to teach yourself that you can grow and move forward. Celebrate your successes and seek out yet more opportunities to challenge yourself! 

Carol Dweck is the author of Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential

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You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

Adopting the right mindset for your return to work

For many people, September brings with it that old ‘back to school’ feeling – a sense of fresh starts, renewed energy and optimism. And, of course, September is a great time to kickstart your return to work journey as companies tend to start hiring again after the summertime lull. So how do you capitalise on this ‘new start’ feeling to help you achieve a successful return to work? One of the most important things is to adopt the correct mindset.

If you’ve been out of the workplace for a number of years, it can be hard to approach your journey with unremitting optimism and indeed this can be damaging to your progress and self-esteem. Being too optimistic, without adding a dose of realism, can lead to unrealistic expectations. For example, underestimating the effort needed or a feeling that if you just keep using the same job search methods, even if they’re not working, everything will ‘come right’ in the end.

On the other hand, we often find that the returner who claims she is being ‘realistic’ actually has a pessimistic perspective and that she too quickly dismisses the possibility of finding a rewarding job. The ‘pessimistic realist’ tends to believe the worst, quickly becomes disillusioned when she hits a few setbacks and decides that returning to work is hopeless and not worth the effort.

A more effective mindset

Far better to adopt a mindset of ‘realistic optimism’ – as psychologist Sandra Schneider advocates. Schneider tells us that optimism and realism are not in conflict – we need both. Realistic optimists are cautiously hopeful that things will work out the way they want and will do everything they can to ensure a good outcome. The realistic optimist finds out the facts and acknowledges the challenges and constraints she faces. Her optimism comes into play in her interpretation of ambiguous events. She recognises that many situations have a range of possible interpretations and chooses a helpful rather than an unhelpful one. She gives people the benefit of the doubt, is aware of the positives in her current situation and actively looks for future opportunities.

Here’s an example in practice. You send a ‘getting back in touch’ email to a former work colleague and don’t receive a response after a week. It’s all too easy to conclude that she just isn’t interested in talking to you, but consider other interpretations. Perhaps she’s on holiday, swamped with work and hasn’t had time to reply, or the email has landed in her junk mailbox. Now decide how to respond: contact her through a mutual friend, resend the email in a week, contact her via LinkedIn or even pick up the phone and call her. If she still doesn’t respond, choose a realistically optimistic interpretation (e.g. she’s too busy) and focus on making other connections.

Tips to develop your mindset

Here are 5 of our tips to help you adopt a more ‘realistic optimism’ mindset for your return to work:

  1. Combine a positive attitude with a clear evaluation of the challenges ahead. Don’t expect your journey to be a smooth one – you are likely to have setbacks – but trust that you have the ability to get yourself back on track
  2. Avoid dwelling on the negatives or jumping to overly negative conclusions. Recognise this ‘negativity bias’ is a result of how our brains are built (read more on this here)
  3. Don’t wait for the right time – it may never come. Simply taking action will move you forward
  4. Focus on what you can control rather than worrying about what you can’t
  5. If you think that lack of confidence is making you pessimistic, check out our advice on how to re-establish your confidence

There is evidence that ‘realistic optimism’ can boost your resilience and motivation, improve your day-to-day satisfaction with life and lead to better outcomes. And be reassured that it’s not about your genes – we can all learn to be realistic optimists!

If you are interested in Sandra Schneider’s research see:
Schneider, S.L. (2001). In search of realistic optimism: meaning, knowledge and warm fuzziness. American Psychologist, 56(3), 250-263.

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Tackling fears about returning to work after a career break

We are witnessing a very real change in the employment landscape for women returning to work after a career break. Employers are coming up with innovative ideas to attract and retain women, and showing willingness to implement the changes needed to entice returners. All in all, there’s never been a better time to return to work, so what’s stopping more women from taking advantage of these opportunities?

Elaine Russell, who heads up Women Returners in Ireland, and Karin Lanigan, Manager of Career Development and Recruitment Services for Chartered Accountants Ireland, talked to The Irish Times Women in Business Podcast about the common fears and challenges faced by women who are considering a return to the workplace. Below we have pulled out some of the key points and you can also listen to the full podcast episode here.

I’ve been out of the workplace for too long
You mustn’t let the length of time you’ve been out of work stop you from going back. We have worked with returners who have been out for 15 years or more and have successfully returned to professional-level work through returner programmes or through their networks. Remember that the length of your break doesn’t change your strengths, which are an integral part of who you are, and doesn’t wipe out the career experience you had beforehand.

Also, you don’t need to talk about the length of your career break when introducing yourself to prospective employers. Do reference it – don’t apologise or defend it – however, focus predominantly on your previous experience and what you want to do going forward.

I’m too old
Diversity is a hot topic right now, with many companies actively looking at ways of attracting older people. We’re seeing more and more women in their 50’s returning to the workplace, where they’re appreciated for their maturity, experience, perspective and stability.

I can’t get to grips with new technology
Technology moves quickly and some returners fear they’ll never catch up. However, it’s worth remembering that this rapidity of change means that everyone has to work hard to keep abreast of developments, even those people who have never had a career break. If you take some time to get yourself up to speed, you may actually be in a stronger position than others who haven’t had that time. It’s also worth bearing in mind that technology in the workplace is not so different to the technology we use at home these days, and so you might well find that you’re not as out of the loop as you may think!

I’ve lost my confidence
We know that women typically have less confidence when valuing their professional worth. Combine this with an extended career break, and professional confidence can truly plummet. It’s important to work on building your self-confidence so that you’re ready to go back into work with a positive mindset. Reconnect with your professional self and remember the value of your past qualifications and experience, and also of the skills you have gained outside of the workplace.

I can’t compete with applicants who haven’t take time out
Companies are actively looking for people like you, i.e. people who have taken time out and are coming back to the workplace with renewed energy. Remember that your time off is an asset in itself, and that during that time you gained a breadth of perspective and many new skills which you can feel proud of.

I’m scared of networking
While we often think of ‘networking’ as a process of selling ourselves, which can be a scary prospect, it’s more about meeting and chatting to people, which is what we do all the time. Networking can be enjoyable! You’re not asking for a job – you’re letting people know  about your previous work experience and what you’d like to do now, to see if you can get advice and information. Remember that most people want to help and are generous with their time.

I don’t have recent experience
Experience doesn’t have to be recent to give you credibility. Think back on the successes from your career: make a list and remind yourself of your achievements, perhaps even contacting former colleagues who can jog your memory. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, it still counts.

If you want even more inspiration, take a look at the returner success stories on our website, and read about how those women and men overcame their own personal challenges to successfully return to work after an extended break.

Read more on Tackling Return-to-Work Fears and Doubts here.

Posted by Elaine

Make stress your friend

It can feel very stressful going back to work: networking, knock-backs, interviews, and the inevitable pressures that a new job brings, no matter how happy you are to be back.
We’re used to seeing stress as a bad thing to be avoided. That’s why I love this 2013 TED Talk by Stanford Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal. She explains how new research has found that how we think about stress transforms our experience of it – stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. If we see stress as helpful, it can help us to be more courageous and to rise to a challenge. She also explains how caring for others makes us more resilient  – less surprising, but good to hear the research!
Posted by Julianne

How to reduce your risk to an employer

What can I do if my sector doesn’t offer returnships?

Returnships sound great but there aren’t any in my city/country. What can I do instead?
It’s so competitive to get on a returnship programme. Are there any alternatives?

We’re proud to have spearheaded the development of returnships in the UK and to know that so many women have already found their way back to corporate roles through this route. As yet this pathway is only available to relatively small numbers in certain sectors & geographies, however the learnings can be applied for all of you wanting to resume your previous careers.

A core part of the business case for returnships is that organisations can increase their gender/age diversity while managing the perceived risk of bringing in someone who has taken a career break. We’re well aware of the unconscious bias against people without recent experience. It’s this risk factor which is often the reason why you don’t get through the initial CV screen for a job you’d previously have walked into, or why you make it through the early interview rounds but get pipped at the post once again by someone with current experience.

Returnships reduce the risk for the hiring manager by building in a trial period where the organisation gets to know you and what you can do, so it’s easier for them to decide if and where you’ll fit in the business. And the process is working: in the vast majority of UK returner programmes, 50-90% of participants have been taken on into ongoing roles (& don’t forget that some of the returners who don’t stay on have made the decision not to, as it’s not the right time or fit for them).

So how can you get a foot in the door if a returnship isn’t open to you? Think risk-reduction…


Two ways to reduce your risk to employers

1. Temporary roles
Use fixed-term contracts, maternity covers and projects as a stepping stone into an organisation you’d like to work for. You may find these through your ex-employer or ex-colleagues, through network contacts or possibly through agencies and job boards. Companies find these positions much harder to fill, as high-calibre employed people are reluctant to move for a temp role. Once you’re in, as with a returnship, you need to make sure that you network effectively within the organisation as well as doing a great job in your role. Then at the end of the contract, if you’re not offered a permanent position in your team, you’re more likely to find something elsewhere in the business. And even if there aren’t any opportunities to stay on, you’ll been seen as a lower risk option for a future employer as you can show recent experience on your CV.

2. Trial period
If you’re applying directly for a permanent role and are sensing that the hiring manager is seeing your CV gap as an insurmountable barrier, suggest a trial period, either doing the role initially on a contract basis or taking on a specific project. Once you have the chance to show your skills and you’re a known quantity, the risk factor rapidly diminishes and you’re in a strong position to be taken on as a permanent employee.

Further Reading
The ‘CV gap’ barrier: Evidence it exists & how to get over it
Victoria’s story of starting back on a maternity cover.

Posted by Julianne