Return to Work

Going back to paid work - after a period of time away can be daunting. Outlined on this page are wide ranging return to work suggestions that you might consider adopting.

The Right Time to Return
Many experts argue that it's best not to wait for that mythical perfect time to return to work. They contend that there's never a 'right' time to go back but propose that people think about it carefully and when it feels 80% right then they should go for it.

Find the 'Working You' Again
Even a few months out of the workplace can leave you fearing that all your skills and experience have deserted you – but those fears do not have a foundation. Dig out your old appraisal forms, call ex-colleagues or invite your old boss out for a drink. You need to re-connect with the working you and the people who valued what you did in the workplace.

Recognise New Skills
Being at home with kids develops your people skills, your creative problem solving, your ability to multi-task, and your time management like no job I've ever had. These skills are not really understood or acknowledged in the workplace, so you wouldn't tend to get the respect and credibility that you deserve if you cited them at interview or on your CV; but you should approach every job with your head held high.

Be Able to Articulate New Skills
It's important to think from the employer's perspective when considering how to articulate that your skills developed as a mother are directly applicable to work. Remember, you also have all the skills from the rest of your working life and education. Describing how you have kept up to speed with issues in your industry will help.

Don't Rule Out Full-time Roles
Apply for full-time as well as part-time positions, as these roles are often open to negotiation on flexible hours. It's best to start out positioning your skills and experience and convincing them that you are right for the job. After this, you will then be in a far stronger position to negotiate flexibility.

Try Different Job Hunting Approaches
Don't job hunt purely online. Use different methods such as word of mouth, keeping in touch with old colleagues and managers, and contacting organisations where your skills and background is relevant on a speculative basis. Most importantly, keep at it.

Don't Worry About Asking for Flexible Arrangements
Not everyone seeking flexible work is a mum – there are dads, retired individuals and city high flyers who want to work in a different way. Recent research indicated that two thirds of men consider flexible work an important factor when looking for a new job. Increasing numbers of innovative employers are changing their approach to finding new talent, and are focusing more on output achieved, than time put in getting there.

Figure Out the Right Working Pattern
You have to think outside of the box. Flexible working does not just mean part-time work; it can be so much more than that. For example:
- Compressed hours so five days in four
- Delayed start or finish to allow you to pick up or drop off your children from school during term time
- Project working only so you work full-time for a project and then take time off in lieu
- Working from home
- Job shares

Ensure Flexibility Works Both Ways
Be brave and ask for the flexibility that you need and make sure that it works both ways. Be prepared to give something more back to your employer when you can, and make sure you make a good business case for working flexibly.