With the holidays started or just around the corner,
you could be forgiven for focussing solely on the long, (hopefully) hot summer
to come. It may be tempting to push thoughts about returning to work to the
back of your mind. However businesses tend to start hiring again (and launching
returner programmes) in early September. There are a variety
of simple ways in which you can lay strong foundations now – while
taking a much-needed break – so you’ll be in a good position for an autumn
return to work *
Here are some ideas to help you make the most of the summer months:
Build up your Network Map
It doesn’t matter if you’re not yet ready to start networking,
building your network map* takes time and the sooner you can start the better.
This is an ideal task to tackle during the holidays as it can be done in small
chunks whenever you have some spare time.
Begin by creating three lists. In the first, put everyone you can think
of from your past: people you knew at school and university, friends you may
not have seen for a long time, former employers, colleagues and employees. In
the second, list everyone you know now: neighbours, friends, school-gates and
local community acquaintances, other parents, people you’ve met through your
hobbies or volunteering. In the third, try to think of future networks and
groups it would be useful to join: professional associations etc. See this post for more
Even if you start by thinking that you don’t have a
network, you’ll be surprised how your map grows. You’ll be
surprised how quickly your map will grow and how many people you can
potentially network with when the time comes.
Whether you have too many choices
or too few
, a useful way to
think about what to do next is to think back to a work role, or part of a role,
that you found fulfilling and reflect on what made it so (see this post for
a process to uncover more about what gives you fulfillment
out old appraisal forms (if you can find them) can help with this.
Job factors that you found fulfilling are related to your strengths and values
and they will continue to be of great significance to you in the future.
Working out what’s important to you will give vital clues as to what to do
next. You may want to return to your old field of work; you may decide to take
elements from your past roles and identify a new one or you may find you have
an idea for a new business or a desire to retrain in a new area.
If you’re able to identify new skills you’d like to acquire or skills you want
to refresh, summer is also a good time to research courses which often start in
Practise your Introduction
Meeting new people while on holiday or day trips
provides a low risk way to practice telling your story. You can test out
and refine your answer to the often-dreaded question – ‘What do you do?’ Try
using our Career Break Sandwich model,
starting with your past work experience, then talking about your career
break and finishing with what you want to do in the future. Hopefully by the
end of the summer you will feel much more confident about talking about your
skills, experience and aims for the future.
Prepare your Family
If you’re a parent, your return to work will be a lot smoother if you
have the support and co-operation of your partner and children. The long summer
holiday will give you plenty of time to consider what changes will need to be
made and how best to prepare your family. For younger children, think about a
new school dropoff/pickup routine or new after school clubs. Older children may
need to take on more responsibility such as organising their sports kit or
preparing their own packed lunches. The holidays are a great time to teach your
children new skills that will help them adjust to your return to work. And
don’t forget to think about ways you can make the transition easier on
yourself, eg, internet grocery shopping or hiring a cleaner. Read our posts
on combating guilt
if these get in the way of making the changes that will help you.
These are just a few ideas – the main thing is to keep
taking small actions to move you forwards. We hope you have a great summer!
* Thanks to our friends at iRelaunch for the Network Map concept
Ideas adapted from earlier posts