Summer preparations for your return to work

In recent weeks I’ve had many conversations with mothers who’ve told me that they will be starting their back to work job search activity after the summer break, once their children are settled back to school. Having been in this position myself, I’m very aware how September rushes past in a whirl and so before you’ve made a start on your search, you’re caught up with plans for the October half-term. Somehow, your return to work search hasn’t progressed!

My advice is not to wait until September to get started. There are a variety of ways in which you can begin to prepare for your search while still taking care of your family – and having a break! This way you’ll already have made a start when September comes around and will be able to use your time more productively.

What you can do during the summer

  • Make a to-do list for your own actions: In parallel with the lists you may be making to remind you to buy new shoes and PE kit, organise music lessons, book the dentist and research your 2016 holiday, create your own back to work list. This could include: buy a work/interview outfit, subscribe to industry journals, create/update LinkedIn profile, shortlist childcare options.
  • Work out what you will stop doing: You will need to dedicate time to your return to work search and so you will have to eliminate some of the things that currently fill your time. This could be the volunteer roles that you’ve taken on to keep yourself busy and engaged, your role as family chauffeur or tidying your kids’ rooms. Starting to let go of some of these roles and tasks during or after the holidays will be great preparation for when you do return to work.
  • Identify specific time that you will dedicate to your return to work activity: You will need to commit to yourself that you will use this time for you, rather than for all the other multiple demands that mothers experience, otherwise you won’t make progress with your to-do list. You could start with an hour a week, to get used to this new habit of taking time for yourself, and build it up gradually. It will naturally be easier if you can stop doing some of the things you’ve identified above.
  • Stay connected: Although recruitment activity slows during the summer months, we have been struck by how many employers are contacting us to discuss their hiring needs, wanting to advertise supported hire roles now or to launch programmes or run events in September. Some applications will open during the summer holidays so make sure you check your emails so you don’t miss out on any interesting opportunities.
We’re also taking a break and will be back in a few weeks. Enjoy your summer!
Posted by Katerina

Making the most of the summer

With Wimbledon and the World Cup behind us, you’ll probably be thinking about the long summer ahead and how to fill all those weeks until school starts again. You’re unlikely to be thinking much about how you can get yourself back to work, at least until the summer is over. However, the summer can provide you with time to step away from your usual routine, to think and reflect and to implement some changes at home, all of which will lay strong foundations for your return to work. At the same time do take time to relax and recharge so that you are refreshed and full of energy when autumn comes around.

Here are some ideas of helpful and simple activities you can do during the summer:

  • Create a network chart

Even if you aren’t ready to start networking, it is never too early to start creating your network chart. Divide your chart into three distinct categories on which you list everyone you can think of from different phases of your life: people from your past (your school and university classmates as well as former employers, colleagues and employees); your present (fellow parents and people you meet through voluntary work, hobbies or neighbourhood); and future (networks and groups you have yet to join). This is the kind of activity you can do all summer long, adding names as you think of them. Even if you start the summer thinking that you don’t have a network, you’ll be surprised how your chart grows.

  • Get clearer about what will fulfill you and what you might do next

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. Our recent post describes a process for uncovering more about what gives you fulfillment.  As these factors are related to your deep values, they will continue to be of great importance to you in the future. By working out what’s important to you, you’ll gain motivation to search for your next role. And you can identify clues about what you want to do next: there might be elements of a previous role that you can craft into a new one or an idea for a business or a desire to retrain in an area which interests you.

  • Practise your story 

If you are going away somewhere and meeting new people that you are unlikely to see again, this provides a low risk way to practice telling your story. You can test out an answer to the dreaded question of ‘what do you do?’, refine it and get used to saying it. Telling your story might even lead to a networking opening, as I discovered when telling my story to the father of a family with whom my family had shared a hot, dusty and uncomfortable beach buggy ride.  He turned out to be a partner in a big four accounting firm and after the holiday introduced me to his head of HR, a great addition to my network.

  • Prepare your family
The summer is a great time to make changes to the family routines and responsibilities away from the hectic schedule of the school year.  If you’re hoping to go back to work, you’ll need to prepare your family for the changes that will be required of them.  For younger children, this might be a new kind of after school care or route to school.  For older children, you might want them to start taking responsibility for organising their sports kit, making their own packed lunches or doing laundry.  You’ll know best what adjustments you will need your family to make, to support your return to work, and the more preparation they have the easier it will be.  Read our posts on combating guilt feelings if these get in the way of making the changes that will help you.
Have a good summer, rest and recharge.  We’ll also be taking time to relax and recharge and will be back in a month’s time.
Posted by Katerina

Tips for a productive summer

With the final arrival of summer you might be thinking about
putting your return to work plans on hold until the autumn.  After all, nobody recruits during July and
August, do they?  While recruitment does
tail off during these months, there are plenty of things you can do to help you
move closer to your return, so that you are better prepared when autumn comes
around.  Your summer holiday can provide
an ideal time for reflection, organising and testing out your skills.  You might not be able to make use of all
these tips: it will depend what stage you have reached in your thinking and
preparation, but there are some that everyone could start.  But don’t think of these activities as homework!  You need to make the most of the opportunity to relax and have fun, so that you feel restored and ready for the next steps in your plan.
 
  • Create a network chart – while waiting to board
Although you might not be ready to start networking, it is
never too early to start creating your network chart.  I recommend you divide your chart into three
categories on which you list everyone you can think of: people who are easy to
call directly; people to whom you need an introduction; people you’d love to
meet but don’t know.  When adding names
to the chart remember people from different phases of your life: your past – your
school and university classmates as well as former employers, colleagues and
employees; your present – other parents (if you have children at school) and
people you meet through your voluntary work, hobbies or religious activity; your
future – members of alumni networks and professional associations that you could
join as well as people you’d possibly like to meet.  After the summer break, we’ll be continuing
our series of posts about networking so you’ll be able to make full use of the
chart you have created.  Keep adding to
this chart as you think of more people and as you start to connect, long after
the holiday.
 
  • Get clearer about what you might do next – on your
    sunlounger
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.
Was it a group of like-minded colleagues? An expression of your
creativity? Your own intellectual or personal growth? Your ability to make a
difference to others? Your experience of freedom and independence?  Whatever gave you fulfillment then will be
related to your deep values and will still be of great importance to you in the
future.  These elements will need to be
present in what you choose to do next, to give you the motivation to search
for it.  Time spent reflecting on your
values and the things you find fulfilling can also provide clues about what you
might like to do next.  You might discover
elements of a previous role that you can craft into a new one, you might
develop a business idea or you might realise that you want to retrain in
something which has previously interested you.
 
  • Practise your story – over drinks
Meeting people on holiday that you are often unlikely to see
again, provides a low risk way to practice telling your story, if you have created
one.  It gives you an opportunity to test
out a new answer to the dreaded question of ‘what do you do?’  It might even lead to a networking opening,
as I discovered when telling my story to the father of a family with whom my
family had shared a hot, dusty and uncomfortable beach buggy ride.  He turned out to be a partner in a big four
accounting firm and after the holiday introduced me to his head of HR, a great
addition to my network.
  • Start to fill in your LinkedIn entry – when you are home
LinkedIn will be an essential tool for you when you are
ready to return: it can bring you to the attention of prospective employers,
build your profile through the groups you join, alert you to advertised roles
and provide an additional way to network.
You can build it in steps, section by section and keep refining it as
you go, so working on it can easily be fitted into short gaps in your day.  If you have developed a story (and tested it
out on holiday) you can put this as your Summary.  Using your networking chart you can start to
build your connections.  You can explore
the groups and join the ones that look interesting. If you do a section a week,
by the end of the summer you could have a complete entry.
Have a good summer, rest and recharge.  I’ll be back in late-August.
Posted by Katerina