Our Virtual Back to Your Future Conference on 12 and 13 October 2020 includes 5 practical workshops providing expert guidance for every step of your return to work journey: finding your career compass, boosting your professional confidence, improving your self-marketing, sharpening your CV and enhancing your LinkedIn profile. To give you a flavour for the specialist return to work support you’ll receive, we’re sharing a Return to Work Roadmap below (Find out more about the conference and book your ticket here.)
When we set out on a new journey, we know the destination we want to reach, and we take time to plan a route (with Google maps to help us!). Planning your return to work needs to be approached in a similar way. You are likely to know the broad destination – doing satisfying and rewarding work – but the map to get there can be harder to find. What is the best route to take?
Return to Work Roadmap
1.Be clear about your goals
Understanding what is driving or motivating you to return to work will keep you focused, as you move through the different stages of your job search. Your motivation may be to have intellectual stimulation, to use your professional experience and skills, a financial motivation or to be a role model for your children. Whatever the reason, getting clear on why you are doing it and reminding yourself regularly helps to keep you on-track. Now think about what you want to do. If you do not want to step back into your previous field this is where a lot of people get stuck. If you are feeling unsure, think about what will make you feel fulfilled at work. We spend so much time at work, we want it to be enjoyable and rewarding. It can be hard to identify what will make you happy – these questions may help:
- What skills or strengths do I enjoy using?
- Which parts of my previous work would I like to do more or less off?
- What is important to me in work? Is it being part of a team, autonomy, being an expert, using my creativity?
- What do I find most interesting?
- What would help me to grow and learn?
2.Refresh your knowledge and skills
Taking the time to refresh your professional knowledge is worth it! There are lots of different ways to do this, such as an online course, reading professional journals or relevant articles on LinkedIn. With the virtual world that we live in, it has never been easier to refresh or learn news skills. Read this blog to provide you with inspiration and links to online courses.
3.Build your professional confidence
After being out of the workplace for a period of time, it is easy to forget who you are as a professional person. That, coupled with a dose of imposter syndrome, can paralyse you with so much fear that you decide not to go any further on the journey or indeed to turn the car around and head home! However, we will share a secret with you: your professional confidence comes back quicker than you think. As confidence comes by doing rather than thinking, look for opportunities that will help you to use and refresh your skills in practice (strategic volunteering is one way). Remember your strengths and what you achieved before your career break. You are still that same capable person, with the additional skills you have developed in recent years. Read about typical return to work fears and doubts and how to tackle them in this blog.
4.Connect with your network
Starting to re-build your professional network is a great way to let people know you are looking to return to work. Reach out to old colleagues, tell friends, and connect with people on LinkedIn. The simple act of speaking to people about work, your experience and what you are looking for soon puts your mind into the professional zone. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Remember, it is not asking for a job, it is just having a conversation. Consider creating a networking map to help you to recognise that you are already likely to have a wide network.
5.Update your CV & Optimise LinkedIn
Take time to refresh your CV and ensure that you include any relevant information from your career break, specifically experiences that identify new or existing skills. You should tailor your CV each time you apply ensuring that you are highlighting the correct skills or experience for that role. Ask a trusted friend to review it and provide constructive feedback. It’s hard to know how to address your career break on your CV – find our advice here.
LinkedIn is a super tool for finding out and sharing information as well as looking for jobs on the open market. Ensure that you have a professional photo, and have updated your personal summary and experiences. Now start to build your connections! Sharing articles and being visible on LinkedIn ensures that your profiles appears higher up the search function. If you need advice on how to leverage LinkedIn, read out blog to find out more.
6.Focus your job search
Treat your job search like a project. Identify each step that you need to take and a timeframe for completing that step. It helps with accountability and you are less likely to find that weeks have passed without taking any action! Do not fall into the trap of trawling endless job sites, but use your time wisely and productively to target your search. If you are looking for flexible roles then focus on relevant jobsites, follow companies on LinkedIn that appeal and use your network. The pandemic-related upsurge in remote working could be a positive for you in finding a flexible job.
7. Be patient and persistent
Returning to work often takes time. Do not be disheartened when it doesn’t happen quickly, and decide it will never happen. Please don’t turn the car around and give up! Persistence and patience do pay off. Keep on going and it will be worth it when you reach your destination.
See our Advice Hub for many more Return to Work articles