I returned to work at age 43 having had a career break spanning the most part of five years. Prior to that I had worked for a US Investment Bank. I am now back in the City working for a UK bank, in a different capacity (but a similar field) on a 12 month maternity cover contract, with various possibilities for high-quality roles when this contract ends.
How did I get the job? I kept up networks and asked people to keep an ear out for me for anything that might be suitable. I went on the Bank of America Returning Talent return-to-work course which encouraged me to pick up the phone and keep asking. In fact I got an interview the following week having seen someone speak on the panel and e-mailing them directly. The course helped me have the courage to do this as well as think about other areas of finance that might be suitable for my skill set. It also made me realise that, in the area I used to work in, part time was most likely not going to work and that in any role I would need to prove myself before being able to build in some flexible hours. That said, I made no secret of the fact of when I would need to take holidays and how important it was to me to be able to make it home for my child’s bedtime.
Would I recommend going back to the City? Absolutely. Are there days I wonder what I am doing? Absolutely. Is it great to be back? ABSOLUTELY. Going back to work has been amazing and more fulfilling than I could have possibly imagined.
What advice would I pass on? Network. Keep in touch with your ex-work colleagues and use LinkedIn. You may feel as a full time parent/carer that you have left this part of your life behind you but you might feel very differently when your child is at school full-time. Also remember that for however long you have been out of the market, your peers will have moved on. Do not expect to go back in to the same role or higher unless you are extremely fortunate – those who were the same level as you when you left will have continued to progress. Good part time roles are hard to find and if you’ve been out for a while then you may need to return full time in order to prove yourself before you can work more flexibly.
Can you return to work after a long career break? YES but be realistic. “Having it all” is a myth – but you can have enough and you can certainly have a great career again after a long break.