Mothers returning to work: prepare yourself for a successful return to work
MOTHERS RETURNING TO THE WORKFORCE
Deciding to reenter the workforce following a maternity leave, however short, long, planned or unplanned the absence, can prove to be difficult even for the most confident of women. The challenges are abundant: changing demographics, fast paced industries that have reshaped themselves, technology advances and your own personal shifts, to name just a few, all impact an impending return to the workforce.
The question then remains: how does one prepare herself for a successful return to work?
Reacquaint yourself…with yourself
Motherhood leaves no one unchanged, often sweeping our past ways of being into an orbit we never thought existed, something we never would have considered before. Some bearings have disappeared while new ones have emerged, values and beliefs have been reshaped and honoured, priorities reshuffled. In the wake of these changes acknowledging your transformations and their manifestations is essential to pave the way to a successful return at work.
Whatever is motivating your return, now is a perfect time to reflect on your purpose, your main pull to the career you left.
Inventory of interest, skills, abilities, experiences
You have most likely leaned into the realities of being a stay at home parent, with everything that it entails. Your network has changed, your various volunteer experiences at school, in sports or other activities have participated in shaping new interests, abilities and experiences. They all are relevant, work place transferable and must be part of the conversation you have with yourself. What are your interests now, how have they evolved? Your skills? Your abilities? Have new passions risen? How all of these changes have modified the perception you have of yourself, of your place on the job market, of you career goal? How do they impact on what you think is your purpose?
What is most important for you? Money, job content, commute, flexible hours? Would you consider an internship, job sharing or temping? What else?
Let yourself think outside of the box, sometimes an imperfect job can eventually lead you to the professional space you are aiming for.
Where to join or rejoin
The industry and the field in which you used to evolve in may have changed and it is imperative you have a clear understanding of it’s new configuration. Are there new barriers to your reentry that you need to address? What are they? What are the main changes that have modified it’s functioning? How can you update your skills, education? Is it worth the effort?
Is a career change something you wish to pursue? What are the options? How can you move towards that direction? The new field, industry and company you are considering need to be understood. Do the research, talk to reliable sources (alumni association and leverage your network).
Resume, LinkedIn profiles and social media
Once you have chosen the career or professional goal you wish to pursue, you will need to create a document that describes your profile and contains relevant information linked to your objective.
LinkedIn is an incredible tool that remains a sine qua none in the process of job hunting. It is structured to give you the opportunity to create a document that can attract multiple job offers. The Internet offers many tips on how to leverage the site efficiently also warning you of it’s pitfalls. But in essence, the skills section of the LinkedIn platform is central to the message you wish to send would be employers. There, you can voice your presence, there you explain what you are all about with authenticity and professionalism. Choose carefully your words, be transparent, to the point. Make yourself unapologetically relevant
The resume is still as crucial as ever. Just as for LinkedIn, many sites offer guidance as how to best devise its content and structure. The main points are to make it simple, fluid, visually appealing and relevant to the jobs you are seeking. Have a neutral version that can be tailored to the specifics of two or three openings you are applying for.
You have embraced the process of reacquainting with yourself, you have allowed yourself to dive into the next phase of your professional life and now have obtained some interviews. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
-Play the part, dress accordingly, always;
-Body positioning is important; find your posture of excellence, the one that makes you feel competent. Experiment until you find it and then practice carrying it with you. Standing straight, with shoulders opened is a good start;
-Breathe normally and if you feel tense, simply squeeze one of you hands into a fist as it will help release the tension and help you better concentrate, sharpening your memory;
-You will be asked why you wish to return to the workforce. Prepare a statement that will impact you interviewer, keeping away from personal concerns i.e. financial pressures;
-You have researched the company, now is the time to ask your questions. Never skip this part.
Returning to work no matter the reason, can feel uncomfortable, tugging at many of you insecurities. This is totally normal. Embrace the moment, reminding yourself that this is just another life learning experience, and do acknowledge your courage, your drive to move forward, whatever forward means to you.
A coach can accompany you through the whole process, from beginning to end, developing your confidence, helping you identify your interests, your values, your purpose, you career goal, practicing the interview process and balancing work and home challenges, among other things. Sometimes, all one needs in one little push in the right direction. That is where I come in!