Back to school, back to work

Working MumsAround this time of year when their children are settled into a new school year, many mothers contemplate going back to work for the first time. This is the perfect time to start a new phase of your life and by considering a few key points, you can make this transition both simple and effective.

Be realistic. As you consider re-entering the workforce, be sensible about the kind of commitment you’d like to make. Do you want to work full- or part-time? Are you willing to employ an after-school Nanny? Will you be happy if you miss bedtime on a regular basis or would you like a school-hours job? How much time would you like off for holidays and term-time events? It is very important to think about these questions in advance, rather than once you have taken a job and find that your children are distressed by your absences or your Boss expects a huge amount of face time.

Smarten Up. Your pre-school mum wardrobe probably involved a lot of gym kit and flat shoes. Re-entering the workforce requires a style overhaul and it is a good idea to get some outfits ready in advance of all the networking meetings you’re going to be having…….. If you’ve been out of work for a while, just put together a couple of classic outfits that you feel comfortable in such as trousers and a blazer, or a shift dress. Polish a low heel and empty the kids’ junk from your bag.

Identify your skills. If you feel you are out of date, and don’t have much to offer after your career break, identify your transferable skills. If you are a professional such as a lawyer, doctor or accountant, your experience and qualifications are still relevant. If you have a more generic background, write down what you bring to the table such as people management, effective organisation or report writing. This will help when it comes to selling yourself as an employee worth having.

Get out and about. Its time to broaden your circle from your local park friends and other mums. Make a list of 20 working men and women who you may not have seen for a while. Get in touch and invite them for a coffee to find out what they are up to. The purpose of making these calls is not to find a job but to get you out and about, and up to date with the world of work. This is also an opportunity to practice your business communication skills. Be positive, upbeat and keep baby talk to a minimum. These catch-ups almost always lead to another meeting, and one of those will eventually walk you in to your future job.

Seek professional help. If you are unsure about the steps to take to return to work, or whether going back to work is the right thing for you, a maternity or careers coach may be a good sounding board. You will also find women’s networks in your area, and many large employers are now offering no-obligation returning to work training courses. All research will be useful in getting you back on the career path which is right for you.

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