8 Ways to use LinkedIn to get back to work

This week’s guest blog is by Victoria McLean MD of City CV

If you are planning to return to work after a career break,
you need to have all your job search documents ready. It’s not enough these
days to simply tag jobs onto the front of your CV and hope for the best: the UK
job market is more competitive than ever and if you have been away for any
amount of time you really need to invest time and effort in making sure your CV
meets current criteria and recruiter expectations.

Alongside a strong, standout CV, LinkedIn is a
crucial element in your armoury and your LinkedIn profile has to reflect your
excellent career to date. It needs to demonstrate your professional credibility, encourage people to contact and connect with you and, over time, attract the attention of potential hirers. It can also extend your network of influence – creating useful contacts and enhancing your online brand.
LinkedIn is
the leading online professional directory of individuals and companies.
Individuals use it for professional networking and to present to their world a
‘professional online profile’. It is also a major tool for job seeking.
To give a summary of why LinkedIn is so important for anyone
returning to the job market, here are some important numbers:
•       Over
400 million users worldwide in more than 200 countries;
•       15
million users in the UK alone;
•       3
million company pages;
•       2
new users are joining LinkedIn every second ;
•       40%
of those check in daily;
•       Most importantly, nearly 50% of engaged
LinkedIn users have ‘hiring decision making’ authority.
So how can you make your profile work for you?
  1. Returning to work after a break – Include your break as a line in your work experience section e.g. ‘Parental career break + dates’. You can briefly explain in one or two sentences what you did over that period if it’s relevant to your professional profile or you can leave it blank. If your break was intentional, state this. It works well to refer to it in your 2000 character summary section
    with something like “Following planned parental career break now seeking to return to an
    executive marketing post.” Nice and simple and to the point.
  2. Changing your career – The important thing is to develop and then
    stick to a good strategy.  Your LinkedIn
    is not just a history of what you have been doing; it should be targeted to
    where you are going. Spend considerable time thinking about your target role
    and transferable skills. What were you doing previously that could be
    advantageous to the new direction you are seeking?
  3. Part-time roles or contracting – If you have had a lot of part-time or
    contracting roles detail them separately and make sure it is clear that they
    are contract roles. Unlike your CV where too many employers can make your CV
    look messy and inconsistant, LinkedIn lists them all clearly and you can be as
    concise as necessary.
  4.  Take time to get it right – Don’t rush into creating a new profile. You
    are preparing your business case and establishing your credibility and so your
    profile needs to be well planned. The key is to take your time. If you feel
    your LinkedIn needs an overhaul then you need to allow time to do this. You
    have to be ruthless with content and remain objective throughout. Your profile
    needs to be strategically thought out, key-word rich and proof read again and
    again before anything is uploaded live.
  5. Make your career experience count – Your work experience section lists your
    entire career history in chronological order. Here is an opportunity to sell
    your key deliverables and make them attractive to a potential employer. It’s
    vital to refer to your key words – key word density is super-important.
  6.  Make connections – LinkedIn is all about linking and connecting with people you know and/or
    have worked with but also people and companies you might like to work with.
    Grow your network by connecting with head-hunters & recruiters, hiring
    managers, other people in your target sector, and industry leaders. Similarly,
    join groups connecting to your industry, participate in discussions and find out
    about the best jobs first.
  7. Shout about your skills – You will have used many skills when you
    were in paid employment so it’s essential to add these to your profile. Think
    about how you can say the same thing in different ways: Resourcing, Recruitment, Talent Management. You
    can also add any skills you developed or discovered while on a career break –
    many skills we use in parenting are transferable. People with at least five
    skills on their profile have on average 17 times more views. You can have up to
    50 skills so make the most of the opportunity.
  8. Include a professional photo – Don’t be shy. A professional photo (which
    means no comedy hats, glasses or cocktails) means you are 14 times more likely
    to get found on LinkedIn – and 35 times more likely to be sent a message. A
    head and shoulders shot is perfect.
By Victoria McLean, Managing Director of City CV who provide professional CV and LinkedIn
writing services. 

Anna’s Story – Head of Strategic Partnerships at Aberdeen Asset Management via Lloyds Returners Programme.

After a five year career break from banking, I had the privilege of being accepted on the Lloyds Returners Programme in 2015. “Returnships” was something I had not previously heard of. I had been trying to get back on the career ladder for a while but found it extremely challenging. I realised quickly that the chances of finding employment using the ‘conventional’ routes – speaking to recruiters and applying for jobs – were inversely proportional to the numbers of years I had spent out of the industry. I felt those in current roles looking to switch jobs were favoured over those looking to re-enter the jobs markets.
The number of people I met who were in a similar position to me and who have since contacted me for advice on the Rungway advice and mentoring App, have made me understand the value of such returnship programmes. They are an excellent way to access an untapped and unreachable market: highly skilled and highly motivated individuals who are under the radar of traditional headhunters, but who once given a chance, are able to shine and bring huge value to the table, because only they know how hard it is to make it!
I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given at Lloyds. I was given a chance, a great role and they helped me believe in myself and in my abilities again. I was able to demonstrate that no matter how long I had been out, with the right attitude and support, I could pick up from where I left. Thanks to this experience, I was able to develop further in my career and pursue my long term goal, which was to work in asset management. If someone had told me back in early 2015 that today I would be working for Aberdeen Asset Management, in a team of highly skilled and award winning investment managers, I wouldn’t have believed it!
During the interview process at Aberdeen I felt like I was being treated as a professional looking to move up in my career. I was being interviewed based on my skillset and experiences. My career gap was mentioned only once. The returnship experience certainly helped me believe in myself and this has transpired in my ability to move up the career ladder shortly after being on the programme.
Working at Aberdeen is a very natural next step.  The Fixed Income team have been extremely supportive of me working part-time and around my young family.  I feel like they are interested in what I have to offer to the team rather than the number of hours I spend on the desk. That is a decisive factor for me.
I am extremely proud to work for Aberdeen Asset Management – a company which values flexible working and is now offering the opportunity to more women like me, to return to work.
For details of the Aberdeen Returners programme see here

Posted by Donna

The 5 steps to successfully negotiate your return-to-work role

We know that many women returners are more likely to gratefully accept any terms rather than to consider negotiating when offered a job after a career break. However, it’s important to make the role work for you for it to be sustainable. That’s why we’re happy to welcome this week’s guest blogger, Natalie Reynolds, a negotiation expert, to help you to sharpen up your negotiation skills.
We negotiate every day, in many different ways and with many different people. It is a fundamental requirement in reaching agreement, resolving dispute and succeeding in business. We might find ourselves negotiating our salary, a contract or a deadline … or in the case of those returning to work, negotiating a job which fits our new circumstances, maybe with a whole new way of working.
Negotiation can be intimidating at the best of times,
never mind when it’s going to impact on our family and lifestyle. With this in
mind, the following DEALS approach is designed to highlight the key steps to take when you’re planning for and negotiating your job offer with your potential new employer.
Discover: Before you get anywhere near the negotiation table you need to discover as much as you can about the
role and the organisation. Do your research, know the facts, understand the
market and look at what has been agreed with current employees in terms of pay and ways of working. If you want flexible working, check who is working in this way currently and on what basis (part-time/job-share/remote working) – this will give you a sense of what’s feasible. It is essential that we are
creative with this process as we often just think about the obvious issues … but
perhaps the key to unlocking this deal sits in an area you just hadn’t
considered:  could you ask for extra leave in the summer holidays, or annualised hours for example? Find out who will be involved in the negotiation process – are you talking to the decision maker? As you’re likely to be out of touch with salaries, are
there ex-colagues you can talk to for current data or industry baselines you can look at (see website such as Glassdoor.co.uk for salary data)? Crucially, make sure you’re clear on what you are bringing to the business and any unique
skills that you can offer.
Establish: Next up is to establish some boundaries and priorities. Establish
what your key priorities are … as well as what theirs might be. To create a
win/win outcome you need to understand what success looks like for them also.
Reciprocity means if they feel they have won, they are more likely to help you
win too. You also need to establish the areas where you can’t compromise and your breakpoint or walkaway point. This is
the worst case outcome for you. Once you’ve established it – stick to it! In
the heat of a negotiation we often agree to things we wouldn’t if we were more
calm or confident.
Ask: This is about making sure you make your proposals in the most
effective way. Package all the issues in your proposal (eg. base pay, bonus, benefits, working hours, holidays) rather than going issue by issue. When you make a proposal always make sure you open ‘ambitiously
but credibly’. Ask for slightly more than you need to give yourself wriggle
room to explore what they might be willing to give you, but don’t go for a completely unrealistic opening offer. If you can, try and
make the first move in the negotiation. Anchoring is a phenomenon from the
world of psychology that means we are often overly influenced by the first
number put on the table and you are then likely to finish closer to that
figure. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to go first though; just remember to
not reinforce their proposal by going on and on about it. Instead recognise the
best way to beat their opening proposal is to make one of your own. Simply, the
more you talk about what you want and why, the more likely you are to get it.
It’s also essential that you plan several moves in advance … and again, be
creative! Think of lots of different angles to try and reach an agreement and
don’t be afraid to make lots of suggestions. If you’re asking for flexible hours/location make sure you present the business case of how it can work for the team rather than just for you.
Lead: This refers to taking the lead in the negotiation. Be confident.
Take a deep breath and speak calmly and professionally. Don’t allow your
emotions to control you. A simple tip to help with this is to remember that
even the most confident of people will often feel awkward and nervous when
negotiating; they are probably just doing a better job of hiding it!
Seal: And last but not least is to seal the deal in the right way. Get it
in writing as soon as you can. One of the most dangerous phases in a
negotiation is the ‘post-deal, pre-paperwork’ phase. This is the period after
the deal has been agreed with a handshake or verbal agreement, but the ink is
not yet on the contract or formal agreement. This is the phase where if your
counterparty has any doubts about the deal they have just done, they will come
back and try to alter terms they are unhappy with, or walk away from the
agreement in that form altogether.  To
try and limit the risk of this, be gracious rather than over the top if you get
a great outcome and make your counterparty feel satisfied with their result.
Agreements are stronger if each side feels like they are winning.
Natalie Reynolds is an negotiation expert at Advantage Spring. She has also written the popular  book ‘We Have a Deal: How to negotiate with intelligence, flexibility and power’ which is published by Icon Books. To find out more about advantageSPRING’s
negotiation programmes visit www.advantagespring.com

See also: https://leanin.org/education/negotiation/

What to Wear to Interviews

It can be difficult to decide what to wear to an interview
at the best of times, let alone when you’ve been away from the work place for a
while.  The following tips are designed
to make it an easier experience and to help you make the best impression.
Dress as though you
already work there

When you meet the interviewer(s), you want them to see you
immediately as someone who would fit in. What do you know about the brand? How
formal/traditional is it? Is it a
creative organisation, a charity, a start-up? What type of outfit would best reflect this?
If possible, go and look for yourself beforehand by
loitering inconspicuously near the entrance to see what people are wearing as
they come and go. Do you notice any kind of ‘uniform’ or a more diverse range
of outfits? Is it an organisation that calls for conformity or encourages
individuality? Some places have sub-cultures where, for example, the sales
people might wear suits, and the creatives, casual clothes. Find out what you can
about the department you’d be working in.
If the dress code looks to be very informal, eg jeans, err
on the side of ‘smart casual’ such as a tailored pair of trousers with a top/jacket
in a flattering shape and colour or a more creative dress.

Massimo Dutti – see here
I remember going for an interview at Channel 4 straight from
my job at KPMG when I hadn’t had time to change. I felt incredibly conspicuous
in my suit as I waited anxiously in Reception. I made a joke of this when I met
the interviewer as I wanted to show that I understood that a culture change
would be involved. Thankfully they
looked beyond the corporate suit and I got the job!
Choose something that
reflects you

Find some common ground between what sort of outfit would
reflect the brand and what feels representative of you. For example, if you are
interviewing with a traditional city firm, and yet your natural style is more
contemporary, choose a tailored dress or suit with a more cutting edge style
and team it with a statement necklace or a coloured bag. While you want to fit in, you want to retain
a sense of who you are and be remembered for this.

Finery – see here and Zara – see here
If you usually live in jeans and jumpers, find a smarter
outfit that still feels comfortable. There are lots of work clothes that fit
this brief, eg tailored trousers in soft fabrics look great with a crisp shirt/soft
silky top, gently structured jacket and brogues or loafers (flat or heeled).
M & S – see here – Jigsaw – see here – Warehouse – see here
Now is perhaps not the time to experiment with a whole new
look that doesn’t feel like you.
Look contemporary

I might be guilty of overusing the ‘contemporary’ word, but
I think it’s particularly important in the context of returning to work after a
break.  Some ‘classic’ work clothes that
we’ve kept may stand the test of time but, more often, some details (eg width of
collar, shoulder padding) will make them look dated. If you like shopping,
you’ll no doubt know what the current styles are; if not, have a browse online
or ask a stylish friend for help.
While I would always opt for style over fashion, looking
contemporary will influence how interviewers perceive you. Even though age
discrimination is unlawful, we know it sometimes happens and we are often
competing with younger candidates. Arguably, it shouldn’t matter, but wearing
anything that looks dated or frumpy might affect how you’re viewed. That said,
I would never advocate the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ trap that we can fall into.
My teenage daughters keep me firmly in check on that front! If you want to be
taken seriously, avoid anything too frilly, flowery or girly.
Business dress has moved on with many alternatives to the
suit, even in some of the more traditional companies/professions, eg. a tailored
dress or trousers/skirt and a tailored top/sleeveless jacket.

John Lewis – see here – Massimo Dutti – see here – H&M – see here – Massimo Dutti – see here

A good coat option is a trench coat which looks
great with formal and informal wear:

Massimo Tutti – see here
Don’t overdo the accessories

One statement piece, eg necklace, ring, oversized watch can
look great but stick to one, maybe two, unless you’re looking to work in fashion/the
creative industries where a more dramatic style might be embraced!
Choose colours that

Make the most of colours that suit you so that you stand out
from the sea of black that often dominates the work place. Your best colours
will be those that match your natural characteristics on the following 3
scales: Deep or Light, Warm or Cool, Bright or Muted. So, if your natural
colouring is Light, Cool and Muted (not much contrast between eyes, lips, hair,
skin tone) consider greys and blues without much contrast between them, as
opposed to black. Black tends only to
suit those who have Deep, Cool and Bright characteristics. For the rest of us,
it can drain us and cast unflattering shadows on our faces. Incorporating some of your best colours into
your outfit, as close to your face as possible, will help you to stand out as
well as look good.
Cool colours are considered to be more business-like (ie
colours with more blue in than yellow) so, if you suit warmer colours, try to
find warmer versions of, for example, navy and grey. Steer clear of browns.
Scarves can look fantastic and are a good way of introducing
colour, but approach this look with caution. I went through a phase of wearing
scarves to the office and was asked routinely by one of my male colleagues when
the plane would be landing!
If you’re unsure about your best colours, consider having these
identified as it will save a lot of time and money when shopping. You can edit
a shop floor in minutes!

Biba@ ouse of Fraser – see here – Ted Baker – see here – Jigsaw – see here
Choose shapes that

If you’re not confident about this, here are just a few of
the many guidelines that might help:
  • The curvier we are, the drapier the fabric we
    should wear. Trying to force curves into structured garments made from stiff fabrics
    is a challenge. You will look and feel uncomfortable. Choose clothes that are more
    fluid, but still smart.
Winser @ John Lewis – see here and The Fold – see here
  • Choose trousers/skirts/dresses that skim the
    hips, thighs and bottom without clinging.
Hobbs – see here
  • If your shoulders are narrower than your hips,
    try balancing this by adding more structure to the shoulders or wearing a wider
    neckline or collar.
  • If you want to create the illusion of looking
    taller, vertical stripes (eg pinstripes, trouser creases, edge-to-edge jackets)
    will help. Same-colour trousers/tights/shoes will lengthen the leg. Anything
    that creates a horizontal line, eg a belt, strong contrast in colours, pockets,
    wide lapels, etc, will have a widening and shortening effect.
  • Dress to suit your frame: smaller frames need
    lighter-weight fabrics, smaller patterns and accessories, while larger frames
    can take heavier fabrics, bolder patterns and larger accessories. If you’re
    petite, getting clothes tailored can make all the difference.
Be comfortable

Give your outfit a test run by wearing it at home for a
while to check that it’s comfortable, both when standing and sitting. Make sure
that buttons on shirts/blouses don’t gape, skirts don’t ride up when you sit
down. Check hems are in place, no loose buttons or marks/creases, etc. Choose
shoes that are comfortable to walk in (or have some flats in your bag to change
into). If you wear heels, the good news is that there are many styles currently
in the shops that have block heels and will help keep you grounded.

John Lewis – see here
Hair, make-up and

Again, probably not the time to experiment with radical changes
but a good haircut and some light make-up will help you look and feel confident.
I hesitate to say this, as it seems
obvious, but ensure your nails are clean and tidy. I’ve seen a few interviewees
over the years turn up with dirty nails or chipped nail polish and these are
invariably remarked upon after the event by the hiring manager. Rightly or
wrongly, people will make assumptions about what this says about you.
Plan your outfit well
in advance

Choose your outfit well in advance, including shoes, coat,
bag, jewellery, nail polish if you’re going to wear it, the right coloured
tights, etc, so you can then give your full attention to the most important
aspect: mental preparation and avoid a last minute panic.

Where to Shop

If you need to buy something new, and don’t know where to
start, consider somewhere like John Lewis or House of Fraser where there’s a
good range of styles and prices.  Browse
online before you shop, so you can be more focused when you get there. Other
brands worth looking at include Zara, Massimo Dutti, Cos, Benetton, H&M, Whistles,
Jigsaw, Hobbs, Finery, Pinstripe & Pearls, Reiss, M&S and Jaeger. For
bigger budgets, or for inspiration, have a look at Boss, Adolfo Dominguez and The
Fold (although not so much for petite frames.)
I always chuckle to myself when people describe clothes as
an investment (who are we kidding?), but ‘cost per wear’ is a more truthful and
useful gauge, so try to choose ‘building block’ garments that you think you’ll
get plenty of wear out of to justify the cost.
If your budget is tight, have a look in places like TK Maxx
and there are some great charity shops, especially if you go to the ones in
smarter areas where you can pick up some good quality bargains. There’s also a fantastic
charity called Smart Works which helps women to choose free outfits to help
them get back to work.
Above all, spending some time choosing the right outfit will
enable you to project yourself as confidently as possible. Making a favourable
impression at the outset will give you an advantage.
Natalie Hunter is a Women Returners Coach and trained Colour/Style
Consultant and offers these services separately, or together, for clients.
Please contact coach@womenreturners.com if you’d like to find out more.