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Three Top Tips from Successful Returners

Over the
past few years, we’ve been delighted to hear so many inspiring stories from women who have successfully returned to work.
Here are three of their top tips.
Keep up your professional skills & knowledge
We all know that a
career break is not a break from life and is typically taken for either reasons
of caring, illness or re-training – none of which leave a lot of spare time.
However, many returners felt that their efforts to keep up their skills and
knowledge paid off when it came to returning to work. Fiona returned to
occupational psychology after a 6 year break and advocates maintaining your
professional knowledge, “I also always kept up with my profession in that I
receive journals and took an interest in developments in my field
.” Adrianna,
who returned to Investment Banking after a 9 year break agrees, “Read as much as you can – from every available source
– on topics related or potentially related to your business and the market as a
whole
”.
Rachel took a 9
year career break and during that time recognised some study areas she could
pursue to help keep her skills recent and relevant, “As I didn’t have any recent professional qualifications I starting working
my way through a project management course
.”
Many
returners also found they honed skills while undertaking ‘strategic volunteering’ – unpaid work that
develops your skills and knowledge. Carmen, who took a 7 year break before
returning as a Macro-Economist believes this approach helped her, “I became a
governor at a local primary school, which I feel helped me to hone my
negotiation skills and deal with difficult situations
.”
Networking is vital – you never
know where a lead will come from
When
you’ve been on a career break the typical routes of finding work through online
job boards and recruitment agencies often prove more disheartening than
helpful. We hear so many stories of role opportunities that come up instead from
networking conversations and contacts. Julia, who is now a Finance Director
after taking a 2.5 year break would concur, “A more effective strategy was
telling all my friends and mums at school gates what I was looking for – most
opportunities I received came from these contacts
.” Rachel, who returned to a
role in Investment Management after an 8 year career break set about talking to
everyone she could think of about what she was looking for. “Although there
were times when I wondered if the endless meetings I was going to were a waste
of time, I persevered and was ultimately successful in landing my ideal
role.  I had also applied for numerous jobs online and via
headhunters but got nowhere – networking really was the only useful route – the
effort will pay off
”.
Directly approach the firms that
you are interested in
In addition
to networking, many successful returners made the decision to bypass
recruitment agencies and directly approach firms that they’d like to work for.
Amy, who returned to Law after a 2 year break, took this direct approach, “I phoned a few recruitment
agents about part-time legal work. They uniformly told me that the law firms
would not be interested and refused to put forward my CV for any roles. I
short-circuited the agencies by applying direct to a firm. Bypass the agencies
and speak straight to the firms you are interested in.
Grazyna
returned to work as an architect and advises that “a direct approach is
generally welcome as firms often have flexible needs for skilled staff who are
hard to find by the standard recruitment routes
.” Fiona found
the same was true, especially of smaller firms. “I picked up the phone to call a local
solicitor who I knew slightly. That was the best step I took! I asked for work
experience and was surprised that he agreed to me coming in a few mornings a
week. I ended up being there 5½ years, thanks to making that one phone call.
Hopefully
these top tips have inspired you, and if you have any suggestions of your own
we’d love to hear them.
Posted by Anna Johnson, Lead Career Coach, Women Returners