Whether it’s raising a family or taking a career break, returning to work after a significant amount of time off is a challenge. Searching for a new job should be an exciting opportunity to re-launch an old career or pivot into something new, but instead many women are feeling more anxious than eager about going back to work.
In data collected in our latest research, four out of five women agreed that taking time away from work had taught them valuable skills that benefit the workplace, including resilience and better time management. But despite this, seven out of 10 felt their time away had dented their confidence, and over a quarter believed this is a key barrier to them returning to the workplace. This ‘confidence gap’ was particularly intriguing given that the majority of these women had been in high-flying, successful careers previous to their break.
So how can women be encouraged to feel more confident when entering back into the workforce? Here are our top tips.
Research, Research & Research Some More
Research is key when preparing for an interview or job application. Find out what’s happening in your chosen industry and explore the potential pressure points that have arisen. Arming yourself with up-to-date and relevant insights to share will show your potential employer you’ve remained in the game. Ring fence three to four roles that you feel would suit your experience, that play to your skill set and allow you to add value to an organisation. Use a solution-driven approach and find ways to emphasise what gives you the edge over all the other candidates the employer is likely to meet.
Refine your CV
Update your CV so it looks the best it can. Your CV is your personal marketing brochure and should demonstrate to prospective employers why you should be hired and what sets you apart from all the other people in the market. Use it to show the business-transferrable skills you’ve gained during your time away. Describe previous roles with achievement-led bullet points and illustrate these with examples of what you have delivered for other employers.
Your LinkedIn profile is also key, as this is often the next step for recruiters once they’ve seen your CV. Make sure your profile is up to date and upload a professional looking picture. But limit photos to LinkedIn only – don’t be tempted to add a photograph to your CV. Review any other social media channels you might have, like Instagram or Twitter. Make sure that there is nothing there you wouldn’t want a future colleague or boss to see!
Keep in mind that as well as traditional interviews, you may also be asked to interview over the telephone, via Skype or even via a Chatbot (so make sure your phone is up-to-date and capable of downloading such apps). Many companies also require you to complete online psychometric tests in the final stages. As well as practicing your delivery of face to face responses, you should also make sure you prepare for other possible methods of selection.
Don’t underestimate the support of your networks, old and new. I always encourage our candidates to catch up with former colleagues to discuss the latest trends in their sector. You’d be surprised how many people are only too happy to help you and share their knowledge, even if it is some years since you were last in touch. Attend as many events as you possibly can – you’ve got nothing to lose and you never know who you might meet or bump into.
Own the Gap
According to our survey, the majority of our candidates believe they gain valuable skills during their time away, yet many of them feel their break has impacted their confidence. Reframe this mindset in favour of a more positive outlook. Assess what you have achieved, articulate the transferable skills you have gained and take pride in showing your determination to succeed. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. This is true of many ‘Returners’. It is their diversity of experience, resilience and flexibility that sets them apart from the rest.
This article was written by Dominie Moss, Founder of The Return Hub and it was originally published in SheerLuxe.