Before having children I’d had a senior career running large digital content teams for the Sun and X Factor, but had struggled to find a flexible role at that level. After a few years of not working with the occasional intermittent freelance, I spotted an advert for Back2Businessship, a returner programme specifically for women in marketing, media and communications. I’d been looking for suitable roles for the past couple of years, but with both my children now at primary school it felt like the right time to truly focus on getting back to work. I hoped the course would give me a renewed confidence and practical skills to focus my job hunt.
Before the course I felt disheartened, but the speakers were so inspirational and proved good flexible roles are out there. There was also plenty of excellent advice on the changes in recruitment and job hunting. Following the course I kept up momentum by applying for roles straightaway, the course clearly worked, as I was out interviewing for three different companies in a matter of weeks. The interviews were a learning curve and yes, sometimes the employer just couldn’t see past the career break. Then there was the grating worry of whether should I reveal the f-word at interview or after. That guilty secret that I wanted – gasp – flexibility.
In the end, I won Golin’s 3-month paid returnship to work as marketing director, they were impressed with my digital knowledge and voluntary projects I’d initiated during my career break. I was encouraged to negotiate my hours and chose to work four days with flexibility around hours.
As thrilled as I was to win the returnship, planning this life upheaval was the most daunting part of the process. I had to find a childminder, plan my hours, worry about how the children would cope (they barely batted an eyelid), revamp a wardrobe that was casual-verging-on-sloppy. Pretty much anything I could fret about, I fretted about.
But coming back to work after a break has been invigorating. It’s been a fantastic 8 months raising the marketing activity at Golin, I’ve used my old skills and learnt new ones. My life has gone from school runs and homework to presenting to 100s, running hugely successful events and projects, representing Golin on Sky News and delivering a marketing review to our new CEO.
Prior to this role I believed my career break and need for flexibility made me a weaker candidate, but in this age of connectivity I can be just as efficient and involved as a full-time employee. It’s about time employers caught up.