Anna and Karen have loved interviewing three inspiring women for the first episodes of our Career Returners Podcast. Having already gleaned much valuable return to work advice from these successful returners to work, they’ve summarised their top 5 tips so far:
1.Value the skills and experiences you have gained during your career break
Don’t undervalue these skills, just because they may have been gained doing volunteering rather than paid work. Sarah McKelvie, who returned to medicine during the pandemic after a 12-year career break, found volunteering provided valuable transferrable skills such as collaboration, motivating people and leading a team, all skills which have really helped her be the well-rounded and empathetic doctor she is now.
2. Don’t give up
The experience of all our interviewees illustrates that the road back to work can be long and draining. You may face many rejections and feel like it’s never going to work out. Their advice was to be patient and persistent and to draw on support to help you to keep going. Use your social networks and talk to friends and parents at the school gates so that others know what you’re looking for and can tell you about opportunities they hear of. Join like-minded communities for peer support such as our growing Facebook Group to help keep your motivation levels up.
3.Get clear on your values
It’s important to think about who you are now and what’s important to you for this next this stage of your career. This will help guide your return to work and help you to feel confident in your new role. As Rachel Tomkins, who returned to engineering with Tideway after a 9 year career break reflected, one of the keys to her successful return was just being herself, being authentic and bringing all the additional skills, experiences, wisdom, and maturity that she gained during her career break with her to her new role.
4.The first role back doesn’t need to be perfect
Your first return to work job can just be a stepping-stone to get your foot back in the door and refresh your skills. Rachel reflected that once you’re back in, you can then explore a whole host of other opportunities that may open up to you.
5. Be prepared to feel a rollercoaster of emotions as you return to work
The initial adrenaline high and excitement often gives way to exhaustion and imposter syndrome a few weeks in. This transition is totally normal and one many returners go through and successfully conquer. What helped Melissa Janvier, as she returned to law at the Bank of England after a 5 year career break, was setting aside time to rebuild her knowledge through reading and training, and by growing her network of support – both from established team members and from the valuable peer support of the returner pool she joined with.
You can listen to the Career Returners podcast for free via any of the links below, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. New episodes are published every Wednesday: