Telling your Return to Work Story

“I struggle to view myself as anything more than a mother any more”

Ex- investment analyst after a 10 year career break

What do you do?

If you’re planning your return to work after a long career break, one of the hardest questions to answer can be “So, what do you do?”. You’re not sure whether to talk about your time at home or what you used to do all those years ago. When my children were small and most of the people I was meeting were other parents, I introduced myself more often as someone’s Mum than as Julianne. It’s not surprising that as our career break goes on, our independent working selves feel so far in the past that they’re not really part of our story any more (see previous post “Who am I anyway?”).

If your old professional life feels like distant history, then it’s harder to believe in yourself and feel positive about your return to work. This not only knocks your confidence but also makes your job search much less effective. Many women returning to work after a break find a new job through old and new contacts rather than through advertised roles, so you need to have a ready reply rather than a stumbled mumble when an ex-colleague asks “What are you doing now?” And when you do make it to an interview, if your response to the classic “Tell me about yourself” interview question is to spend the majority of the time describing and explaining your career break, you are underselling your past experience and are unlikely to come across as a credible candidate for the job.

The Career Break Sandwich

When you’re putting together your story, don’t start or end with your career break. We suggest you use a structure we call the “Career Break Sandwich”.

  • Talk first about what you did before in your working life – your career ‘headlines’ to establish your credibility.
  • Then talk about your career break. Explain simply why you’ve taken time out of the workplace, but avoid apologising for or justifying your break or spending too much time talking about what you’ve been doing. However do include any study, voluntary work, time spent abroad, unusual/challenging activities or anything else that might be interesting in terms of skills development or updating to a possible employer.
  • Finish with what you are looking to do now in your career and why.

Herminia Ibarra, in her career transition book Working Identity, suggests that a coherent story helps us to make sense of the changes we are making, so building our inner self-confidence. It also makes us more likely to get other people’s support: “Until we have a story, others view us as unfocused. It is harder to get their help“.

Aim to draw out links between your past and future, particularly if you have a varied work history or are planning a career change: Have you always enjoyed helping people develop? Or solving difficult problems in a team? You’re always bringing the benefit of your past experiences, at work and at home, as a foundation for what you want to do now.

Telling your story does take practice. Try out your narrative first with family and friends and get their feedback. Telling and retelling allows you to rework your story until you feel comfortable and convincing. Aim for a longer version to answer “Tell me about yourself” or “What are you looking for?” and a short version so you no longer hesitate when someone asks “So, what do you do?”

Posted by Julianne (updated from original post in 2013)

Lowri’s story – An alternative route back to work

“I wanted to share my story to show that, whilst the path to returning to work following a break can mean a more circuitous journey than might otherwise have been undertaken, the rewards of doing so can be great.” Lowri

At the age of 26, I finally found what I
wanted to do with my career when I enrolled on a part-time PGCE course at
Goldsmith’s University to become a secondary school English teacher. I then
promptly managed to get pregnant with my first child only two months into the
course, throwing my plans into disarray. I was able to complete the first half
of the course before my daughter was born and I returned to finish my second
school placement and graduate when she was around one year old. However, I did
not look for a job after graduation as I was unable to see how I would manage
to juggle my first years in teaching with having a very young child.

Once my daughter had started attending
nursery school, I made some tentative steps towards returning to teaching by
joining a pre-school organisation running classes to teach children about the
natural world. This made me re-assess my decision to work at secondary level
and I was able to see that teaching younger children would be very rewarding
and would fit in better with caring for my daughter. Once I had reached this
decision, I began to apply for jobs in primary schools, but I often would not
even get a response to my applications, presumably overlooked in favour of
candidates with more experience; no gap between qualifying and starting work;
and with a qualification that related specifically to primary, rather than
secondary education.
When a post became vacant at my daughter’s
school, I applied and managed to get down to the final shortlist of candidates,
but again lost out to someone with more relevant qualifications and more
experience. Whilst I was buoyed by getting so far in the interview process, I
also had to confront the fact that, without gaining additional experience in
the primary sector, I was unlikely to be able to find a primary teaching job.
Fortunately, my daughter’s school were also
advertising for another vacancy for the post of teaching assistant. Despite
being over-qualified, I applied and was accepted and began a wonderful year of
getting to understand the rhythms of the primary classroom and the various
curricula for which the teacher is responsible, whilst not actually having to
shoulder the responsibility for the teaching itself. When a teaching post
became free the following year, I applied and became the teacher in the year
group for which I had been TA the previous year. The year after that, I was
able to make use of my English degree and secondary training to become Head of
English and to move from teaching a broad curriculum to, once again, being a
specialist English teacher, preparing children to sit for senior school
entrance exams.

I wanted to share my story to show that,
whilst the path to returning to work following a break can mean a more
circuitous journey than might otherwise have been undertaken, the rewards of
doing so can be great. I have been exceptionally lucky in being able to teach
at the school where my daughter is a pupil, meaning that child care has not
been problematic. Even so, I have found juggling having a young child with a
full-time career challenging, especially during those times when I have been
aware of prioritising the needs of my class above the needs of my own child as
she spends yet another evening or weekend in work with me! However, whilst the
hours are long and the pace can be relentless at times, working in a
female-dominated, child-centred industry means that the needs of mothers are
recognised and catered for more than perhaps they are in some other jobs. My
job is stimulating and rewarding, giving me the opportunity to share my love
and enthusiasm for my subject in the hope of inspiring the next generation.

If you would like support with your own return-to-work journey, you can sign up to our free network here.

Antje’s Story – Returning to work as a Civil Engineer

Antje returned to work this year via the Balfour Beatty Returner Programme. Read her story:

I have spent all my working life in the construction industry, starting with an apprenticeship as a traditional carpenter in my native Germany. After a few years, I decided to further my career and studied for a BSc in Civil Engineering in England. After graduating, I worked for a national contractor as a site engineer, constructing bridges for the M6 Toll. Different site projects followed within the water and transport sectors. I worked my way up to senior engineer, becoming involved with subcontractor supervision, quality management and some design coordination. I passed my professional review during this time and am now an incorporated civil engineer.

I then had a nine-year career break to bring up my two young children. During my break, I joined the local branch of the Institution of Civil Engineers. This enabled me to keep a connection with the industry and to continue networking.
I started looking into returning to work when my younger child started school. I found very quickly that jobs that were local and part-time were few and far between, even outside the construction industry. I thought about retraining, but felt that I would like to return to a role where I could utilise my previous training and experience.
One problem I encountered was how to approach the opportunity for flexible/ part-time working when this might not have been part of the original job description.
The Returners Programme offered by Balfour Beatty was the first role I saw which ticked the boxes of a technical role, as well as being part-time. The company was open to discussions around flexible and part-time working, which really helped with my transition back into work.
I have found Balfour Beatty to be very flexible. I am based in the office now, which enables me to work more flexibly than my previous site-based roles. I can access my work from home, so if I need to, I can catch-up on work, or work around meetings away from the office. I think recent developments in technology have helped with these changes. The team I work in have also been very supportive in helping me adjust and learn more about my new role.
The Returners Programme was supported by coaching sessions delivered by Women Returners. This gave me the chance to get to know my fellow returners, and we continue to keep in touch, which is a great support.
During the coaching sessions, we were given really good advice on how to overcome challenges during our first days and weeks. We also had the chance to think about potential stumbling blocks and came away with some great tools, like how to use LinkedIn effectively to network.
I am happy to be back at work in a role that utilises my training and experience; developing my skills within design coordination and management. Compared to before my career break, my life feels more balanced, which makes it worthwhile. Sometimes my role can be stressful, but, overall, things have been working out really well so far.
My advice for other women returning to work? I found that doing some construction-related volunteering gave me something relevant to include on my CV. This also helped me to keep up to speed with developments in the industry. I found a lot of help online, like the Women Returners CV writing webinars, which are often available at no cost.

If you would like support with your own return-to-work journey, you can sign up to our free network here.

Setting up an architecture practice – Francesca’s story

Hello to all the women returners!
My name is Francesca Romana Mazzenga. If you are reading this you probably are in the situation where for one reason or another you stopped working full, or part-time. I left the architectural practice where I had been working for 5 years, probably for the most common reason: I sacrificed my career, which was going so well, to follow my husband to be who was relocated abroad.
In Mauritius to be precise. Fantastic opportunity!
Back then I never would have thought I wouldn’t have worked in a practice for 13 years! I planned to go back to my previous job, as my boss had said to me to get in touch as soon as our two years’ relocation was over. That was the plan. But you all know sometimes plans and life don’t exactly coincide.
Little did I know that two years became three before we moved back to England, to another city. My daughter was born in Mauritius, she was two and a half by then and she was to become a big sister soon. But after four years, we moved again, to Italy this time, for another two and a half years.

The years were passing by and with moving and raising a family I hardly realised how many had already gone! What did I do all this time? Well, I worked as freelance architect, working in Liverpool, Mauritius and Rome, until we moved to Italy where I started teaching yoga and volunteering in the school my kids attended, becoming governor and getting involved with the Children’s University, creating a lecture for the kids regarding architecture and signing up many local points of interest to the scheme.
Once back in England I taught yoga for another year but I always wanted to go back to my professional job as an architect.  I re-registered as a professional at the ARB (Architect’s Registration Board) and started monitoring job advertisements in conjunction with lots of reading, CPDs and catching up, but sadly not a single advertisement was for a part-time architect to suit a mum who still had to do school runs.
I was getting discouraged and it was only when my husband sent me the link to the Women Returners’ website that I discovered how many women shared the same difficulty. It gave me strength. I got in touch with the WR’s team asking for advice before the interview I was asked to go to in my previous practice. After that interview I realised that working in practice wasn’t exactly feasible for me at present, especially not in Manchester, where the interview was (we live in Liverpool at the moment).

I knew I had to go on my own. In December 2016, I had a plan of getting my own practice up and running by March 2017. Again, plans and life… I got my first assignment in January 2017, when I hadn’t even bought my CAD software to work with yet.
Everything happened really fast but all the experience from my previous jobs came flooding back and I asked myself why I hadn’t done it sooner. I am also learning a lot about social media, which, many of you can confirm, is a very important tool at present. My practice has just started but it’s keeping busy.
In all this I learned that if you really want something you can do it, sometimes you may need some self-encouragement, but don’t be shy to share your plans and objectives, via word of mouth or social media, because you may find the one person that needs your services as much as you need theirs. Spread the word.
I am feeling happy even if this means working evenings and weekends sometimes, I still have time with my family, take the kids to and from school and cook dinners. Good luck to all of us!
If you are an architect who had a career break, please do get in touch with me via info@womenreturners.com.

Posted by Donna

What’s it REALLY like to return after a career break? Advice from a returner 2 years on

When I was contemplating returning to full-time work after a six-year career break, I cast around on Twitter and among friends for clues and tips and reassurance that I wasn’t Completely Mad for even considering it. There were lots on how to get organised, but very little that told me what it would actually be like. Almost two years in, what would I say to someone asking me the same question?

Be brave
I expected the tiredness and the logistical challenge of combining work and a hectic family life after the luxury of a few years where I only had to consider the latter. What I didn’t realise was how exhausting dredging up the courage to go in, day after day, till I found my feet again would be.
I was terrified on a daily basis, for a long time, in a way that I didn’t recognise from pre-career-break work, and in a way which I no longer experience now. I had a mantra of “don’t look down”: visualising myself on a tight rope, I willed myself to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and refusing to contemplate the horrors lurking should I slip.
Little things I once and now again take for granted: composing an email, approaching someone senior, giving an opinion or advice which I know could come back to bite me should I be wrong, were draining in a way I simply hadn’t expected.
Battling imposter syndrome is nothing special, I know, but it took every ounce of energy I had to fight it down when it was armed with the ammunition of that time away from the office.
Be selfish
I was brought up to believe in service to others, and having been acutely conscious of the additional time I had available while not working, like a lot of people I tried to volunteer where possible and fit in lots of social commitments with friends and family.
Volunteering and working are not mutually exclusive, of course, but it took me almost a year of becoming increasingly unhappy and ill to realise that a break while I reacclimatised to work would have been best all round. It wasn’t the lack of time which was the issue, so much as the need to prioritise family and my own mental well-being with space wherever possible not to be “in demand” from external sources while we all got used to our new normal.
Again, two years in, I now have the energy and headspace to start to be able to fit things into the spare time I have available, but in retrospect, it would have been helpful to have felt I had permission to take a step back. As with the friends point below, it’s natural to feel it important to prove a point – look, I can work and still do everything too! – but those who really care about you won’t be bothered either way.
Losing friends and inconveniencing people
Very much related to the above. Maybe this was just me, but it was hard to realise that to some people I considered friends, I had only every really just been valuable by my presence. A stay at home mum is a useful social acquaintance: able to step in at short notice, lend a hand in groups and generally help move things along by the simple virtue of proximity to home during the hours when others are in the office or on the road.
Not everyone, of course; going back strengthened some lovely friendships by making me realise who was a friend because of who I am rather than what I could do for them, but it wasn’t an easy thing to process in the midst of readjusting back to work when I could have done with a bit of support, and it’s something I wish I’d been prepared for.
Be happy
I used to scoff at the idea that having a happy mother was a tangible benefit to children, perhaps because I just didn’t realise that I was bored and rather miserable by the end of my time at home, but it’s been true in our case. I’ve been incredibly lucky in a supportive employer and access to great, affordable childcare, without both of which it possibly would have been a very different story.
Terror notwithstanding, I felt even in my first day that way you do when it’s only on starting to eat that you realise you were famished. Tiredness notwithstanding, I am simply happier with the boost to my confidence and self-esteem which returning to work has given me.
It has been and continues to be, hard. I miss my children, they miss me (and the luxury of not being in wraparound childcare) and I simply don’t have the degree of involvement in their daily lives that we once took for granted. But they are happy, and they continue to thrive, and we’re all more than managing.
If you’re reading this and wondering whether going back to work (or stepping back into a more demanding job after a period of doing something to fit in around family commitments) is for you, I can’t give you an answer. All I can say is that it was the unquestionably the right thing for me.
Oh, and good luck.
This post first appeared on Head in Book – Postcards from Surburbia


Posted by Donna


Plesae note, we will be posting fortnightly going forwards.  To read more from the archives see here. 

Kate’s story – Returning to Engineering after a 7 year break.

“To other professionals who are on a career break and want to get back into their chosen profession, my advice is not to give up” 
Read Kate’s inspiring story of returning to work as an engineer through the Skanksa 2016 Return to Work programme. 

I did a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College and joined a rail infrastructure company’s graduate training programme when I graduated.  I worked for their rail vehicles section for six years in a range of roles, including as a project engineer managing the design and introduction of new rail vehicles into the UK infrastructure. During this time I became chartered with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
After taking my maternity leave, my employer was unable to accommodate my flexible working request, so I decided to take a career break. Nearly seven years later, once my youngest child was about to start school, I attended a Women’s Engineering Society conference and heard Julianne speaking about Women Returners. I had started thinking about returning to work but was daunted by the prospect and wasn’t expecting it to be easy to find a suitable part-time role in engineering. A returnship sounded like an ideal way for me to get back to work, so I joined Women Returners and began scouring the monthly newsletter for suitable programmes.
I joined the Skanska Return to Work programme as a Senior Engineer in SRW’s Engineering and Compliance team in November 2016 on a three-month contract, working part-time, and in January moved onto a permanent contract.  The Women Returners coaching sessions were invaluable and provided useful, practical advice on re-joining the workforce as well as giving me the opportunity to meet the rest of my returnship cohort and share common experiences.  At times it can be difficult juggling my job and my family commitments, but it’s not nearly as bad as I feared it might be before I started back at work. The coaching sessions with Women Returners were really useful in giving me tactics on how to deal with the added pressures of being a working parent, and it was great to have the advice and support of others who were having similar experiences at the same time.
My new colleagues in Skanska were also very supportive, and helped me make a smooth transition back to work by being flexible both with work locations and with fitting my hours in around my home commitments. I have been on several training courses, some technical and specific to my role, and some more general to Skanska and the construction industry.
To other professionals who are on a career break and want to get back into their chosen profession, my advice is not to give up. Organisations such as Women Returners are changing perceptions of career breaks and employers are starting to realise that there is a large pool of talent that they have been overlooking.  Flexible working is also becoming more common for both men and women and does not need to hamper career progression.
I am immensely enjoying being back at work and focussing on my career again.  For a while during my career break I did not think I would be able to find a suitable role in engineering and considered retraining in a more “family friendly” profession such as teaching. I am so glad that I didn’t waste my training and qualifications, and I am thrilled to be back working in engineering.
Posted by Donna

Kemi’s Story – Returning to Financial Services Transactions with EY

Women Returners is partnering with EY to launch EY Reconnect, the firm’s 2017 career returners programme, providing a bridge for professionals to re-enter the workplace after an extended career break. Kemi’s story is featured on the EY Reconnect website, please see here for more inspirational stories and further information about the programme.
Kemi, Manager, Financial Services Transactions.
“My career has always been very
important to me and, although I loved my time at home with my children, I felt
the time was right to get back into a hopefully rewarding career.”
Kemi worked at Deloitte and
Goldman Sachs before taking a career break to care for her two daughters. She
joined EY in the Transactions practice as part of the EY Reconnect programme –
a 12-week initiative providing a route back to business for people returning
from a break of 2-10 years.
“I did not want my decision to
take time off when my children were young to impair my long term career goals,
especially as I felt I was even more skilled in areas such as negotiation and
time management post two children!  When I came across the EY Reconnect
programme, it ticked all the boxes. It would give me exposure to interesting
client work but within a programme that was aware of the challenges of coming
back to work after a break.”
And the expectations of the
programme quickly became a reality for Kemi.
“On joining the programme, I was
enthusiastic to get going and add some value to my team. Luckily I have been
given the opportunity to do that just that, while taking advantage of the
exceptional learning and training EY has to offer.  For example, the career coaching
sessions have been very illuminating, with valuable knowledge sharing on the
best ways to approach this new stage of my career.”
EY’s flexible and supportive
approach was also key factor in Kemi’s decision to join the programme and where
she felt she would be able to really contribute.
“Everyone I have encountered have
been really positive and interested in the programme, and always keen for a
coffee and a catch up. In my opinion EY’s approach to workplace flexibility is
empowering for employees and shows a modern organisation that listens to its
people.”
Programmes such as EY Reconnect
encourage and empower parents to refocus on their careers after a break,
according to Kemi.
“There are huge armies of well
qualified, experienced people – especially women – who feel marginalised from
the work following a career break. EY Reconnect and similar
initiatives promote diversity in the workplace which we all know benefits
everyone – it’s a win-win situation.”
Of course, returning to work
after a long career break can bring some challenges along the way, so what’s
been the biggest challenge for Kemi to overcome?
“Realising my kids are alright
without me! Because they definitely are. I have a supportive husband and great
childcare in place, and this programme has been an opportunity to see that I
can manage a busy career and home-life. And I feel I’m providing an
important example to my daughters when I go to work each morning now.”
To find out more about the 2017
EY Reconnect Programme, see here:
Posted by Donna

Maria’s returnship story – “Wild card” to Product Specialist at Man GLG

If you’re interested in returnships, read Maria’s story of returning to work at Man GLG through our partnership Man Group Returner Programme.

Before I took my career break, I had a varied and active job in fixed income on the sell-side where I travelled extensively, worked long hours and was excited by what I did. However, when I had my third child in 2012, I realised that I needed a change of pace. I left my company and dedicated my time to my family for three and a half years. During this break, I raised my children and loved every minute of it – I gave birth to my fourth child and prepared my three older ones for school.
I always planned to return to work and when I finally made the decision to come back, I knew that I needed something different from my past career. It was very clear to me that I wanted to continue working in financial services, and apply my existing skills and knowledge to a new area – the buy-side. I looked for roles in Sales or as a Product Specialist, which I felt would suit my experience and expertise. I approached head-hunters in the first instance, but was told that although I had an interesting profile and relevant experience, I was a “wildcard” with a non-traditional background (due to my career break) that they could not easily place. I then spoke to a friend of mine, who left the sell-side to open a headhunting business, and she pointed me to Women Returners, where I found the Product Specialist role at Man GLG. I knew the company, due to my previous job, and was immediately excited by the opportunity!
I considered myself very lucky when joining Man GLG. I started on a three-month programme, which was then extended, and then I was made a permanent employee. The team that I joined was also new at that time, so despite being thrown into an unfamiliar environment, I felt like I jumped on a boat that was being built. I was able to work with my team to define my hours and ensure flexibility on both sides (home and work). Senior management were also very understanding of this – they ensured that I was fully equipped with the training, materials and support to embrace my new role. For me, it was very important that when I returned to work, I would be happy and motivated – finding a work/life balance has definitely helped achieve this.
Alongside, Women Returners’ coaching programme was also very helpful when I first started my role. It reminded me about the importance of maintaining a focus and not stretching myself too thin between my personal and professional worlds, and to set up realistic short and medium term goals, and celebrate the daily achievements along the way.
I feel very happy about returning to work and joining Man GLG. It offers me everything that I wanted in terms of a full-time role, including working with an inspiring and engaged team, and having a balance with home life – so coming into work puts a smile on my face every morning. Admittedly, it is always a challenge to start something new, but I am fortunate to be in an open and inspiring professional environment that provides me with the support I need.
My one piece of advice to someone in a similar situation is to think about what you want and stick to it. Before you go on the journey to return to work, ensure that you have a good support system at home, and ideally at work as well, so that you have the peace of mind to be productive and successful in both environments.
Posted by Donna

Find your road to success

Following our Women Returners UK Conference on Monday, we’re delighted to feature a guest blog this week by one of our wonderful returner panelists, Samina Malik

The road to success is always under construction (Lily Tomlin)

If someone had told me 6 months ago that I would
be a panelist at the first Women Returners
Conference
 being interviewed by Jane Garvey (of Radio 4 Women’s
Hour fame) with two other incredibly talented and inspiring panelists, in front
of an audience of nearly 200 women, talking about my successful journey back to
work at O2 … I would probably
think they were mad!

My experience in looking for suitable roles to
get back into work had been that I had a CV gap and I couldn’t return to
corporate world. My degree, my previous extensive corporate experience for 11
years, my voluntary work … it all counted for nothing.
The fact that during my “time out” to raise my
family I had continued to develop whilst doing one of the most difficult jobs
around … as a leader, innovator, problem-solver, negotiator, teacher,
project manager, care-giver, nurse, psychologist, financial manager, supreme
organiser 
… basically as a mother … didn’t count.
I was told the best I could do now was to become a part time
teacher/tutor or executive assistant
.
But I wasn’t going to let that stop me as I knew
that there was more to me. The constant googling paid off … I read about Women Returners a leading
organisation in the returnship space, offering help to people like me. In one
of their newsletters I saw the O2 Career Returners programme being
advertised. This was it, I thought. My skillset
was relevant, the commute was manageable, a work/life balance was on
offer … I was going to go for it.
Fast forward the last 6 months or so and on
Monday I attended the sold-out Women Returners Conference as a panelist, to
talk about my “successful return to work” journey in a room full of hugely
talented and qualified women … an untapped pool (more like a sea) of potential
… looking to make their own journeys back to work.
Thank you Julianne Miles and
all the talented team at Women Returners, for your work in this area is amazing,
actually life changing. I was honoured to be invited as a panelist and proud to
represent O2, a company investing in Diversity & Inclusion programmes
because it recognises that it makes business sense to have an employee workforce
that reflects its 25 million customer base. It also makes business sense
because having a diverse workforce creates happier, more productive and more
innovative business teams.
To all those who, for whatever reason, decided to
leave work but are now looking to return … know that it is possible. Stay
positive and keep an open mind about the opportunities that come your way.
Believe in yourself and your own strengths, don’t let the inner critic grind
you down. Engage with Women Returners (or similar organisations) to help
support you on your journey. The journey will have twists and turns, it might
be smooth or bumpy but it’s a journey of discovery and I look forward to what
lies ahead on my road to success.
Samina Malik, Supplier Manager at O2 

Laura’s Story – Return to Marketing via Back2Businessship

Read Laura Weston’s story of how she returned to work through a marketing returner programme:

Before having children I’d had a senior career running large
digital content teams for the Sun and X Factor, but had struggled to find a
flexible role at that level. After a few years of not working with the
occasional intermittent freelance, I spotted an advert for Back2Businessship, a
returner programme specifically for women in marketing, media and
communications. I’d been looking for suitable roles for the past couple of
years, but with both my children now at primary school it felt like the right
time to truly focus on getting back to work. I hoped the course would give me a
renewed confidence and practical skills to focus my job hunt.

Before the course I felt disheartened, but the speakers were
so inspirational and proved good flexible roles are out there. There was also
plenty of excellent advice on the changes in recruitment and job hunting.
Following the course I kept up momentum by applying for roles straightaway, the
course clearly worked, as I was out interviewing for three different companies in
a matter of weeks. The interviews were a learning curve and yes, sometimes the
employer just couldn’t see past the career break. Then there was the grating
worry of whether should I reveal the f-word at interview or after. That guilty
secret that I wanted – gasp – flexibility.
In the end, I won Golin’s 3-month paid returnship to work as
marketing director, they were impressed with my digital knowledge and voluntary
projects I’d initiated during my career break. I was encouraged to negotiate my
hours and chose to work four days with flexibility around hours.
As thrilled as I was to win the returnship, planning this
life upheaval was the most daunting part of the process. I had to find a
childminder, plan my hours, worry about how the children would cope (they
barely batted an eyelid), revamp a wardrobe that was casual-verging-on-sloppy.
Pretty much anything I could fret about, I fretted about.
But coming back to work after a break has been invigorating.
It’s been a fantastic 8 months raising the marketing activity at Golin, I’ve
used my old skills and learnt new ones. My life has gone from school runs and
homework to presenting to 100s, running hugely successful events and projects,
representing Golin on Sky News and delivering a marketing review to our new
CEO.
Prior to this role I believed my career break and need for
flexibility made me a weaker candidate, but in this age of connectivity I can
be just as efficient and involved as a full-time employee. It’s about time
employers caught up.

Posted by Donna