Kick-start your return to work at our Women Returners Conference 2019

“The energy, inspiration and practical tips that I received from both speakers and peers at the conference has given me confidence, direction and a kick-start to get back to work!” Previous Conference Attendee

If you’d like to accelerate your return to work after an extended break from a professional career, and you’re within travelling distance of London, we have an event tailored for you!

Our 2019 Women Returners ‘Back to your Future’ Conference (London, 13 May) is fast approaching and the programme is packed with return-to-work advice, support and inspiration.

You can look forward to a highly motivational day:

  • Get practical help with focusing your next step career choices and a road map to clarify your aims, develop decision criteria and move to action
  • Find out how to boost your professional self confidence
  • Improve your self marketing by crafting your career story and sharpening up your CV
  • Be inspired by our panel of women who’ve successfully returned to work through a variety of routes
  • Meet and chat to our Returner Employer Sponsors, including Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, FDM Group, Fidelity International, J.P. Morgan and O2
  • Hear from our Keynote Speaker, Jane Garvey from BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour
  • Learn from our employer panel about why they run returner programmes and what you can do as a candidate to stand out.

You’ll also have the opportunity to take part in personalised or small group support including a laser coaching session with one of our coaching team and a LinkedIn workshop. These are offered on a first come basis – so take advantage of our Early Bird ticket price of £90 and book now

It’s going to be a fantastic day – to get a clearer idea of what to expect, see the highlights from our last sell-out conference in the video below:

Find out more about the Conference including how to book tickets here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

How to write your New Year return-to-work action plan

Is Returning to Work one of your 2019 Resolutions? 

How do you make sure you don’t let this fall by the wayside like New Year resolutions tend to do? Shift your thinking to make Returning to Work a goal, with a clear, specific and motivating personal action plan. Here are some of our suggestions on actions to include.
Action Steps to Get Back to Work

1. Clarify what you want from work 

Start by considering what your motivations are for returning to work. Do you need, or want, to earn your own money? Are you looking for the status a professional job brings? Do you want to be a role model for your children? Returning to work after a career break is a great opportunity to think about what you really want to do, so consider what kind of working life and job you would find most fulfilling and enjoyable. Think about what you most enjoyed about past roles and whether or not you need flexibility. You may prefer a corporate employed role, to work as a freelancer or to set up your own business.
Identifying your strengths can help you decide which career direction to take. And read our tips if you feel you have too many return-to-work options or too few. Don’t over-analyse at this stage – the ‘what shall I do with my life?’ career questions can rarely be solved just by brain-power. Move to action using a Test and Learn approach.

2. Fill the gaps in your work experience/skillset

Once you’re clearer on the broad direction you want to take, it’s time to identify any gaps in your experience and any new skills you will need. Get up to date with your old industry, or learn about a new one, by taking professional courses through industry associations, attending conferences, seminars or webinars, signing up to relevant newsletters and meeting up with ex-colleagues. Find courses locally through Floodlight and look at the free online MOOCs (Massive Online Courses). If you’re worried about your IT skills being out of date, take a course before you get back to work. Strategic volunteering can build your skills and experience and may even provide a route back to work.

3. Craft your return-to-work story

Talking about your career break and how it fits into your professional story can be tricky. Use our ‘Career Break Sandwich’ method so that you don’t fall into the trap of focusing solely on your career break (and neglecting your professional background) in response to the classic questions “what do you do?” or “tell me about your background?”.

4. Rebuild your work confidence

A loss of professional confidence can be a key factor in preventing you from making a successful return to work. Don’t let this hamper you – read our blogs on Re-establishing Your Confidence and addressing the Confidence Gap.

5. Re-write your CV and develop your LinkedIn profile

If you’ve been out of the workplace for any length of time it’s likely to be many years since you last wrote your CV. We have lots of CV information in the Advice Hub section of our website including How to Write Your Post-Break CV and the use of Action Words. A strong LinkedIn profile is also important – read our blog on how to make the most of your profile.

6. Select potential routes back to work

There are many routes back to work such as returnshipsnetworking and creative crafting of a role. Consider which ones would work best for you.
7. Prepare for interviews
Facing your first interview for many years can be daunting, and we have lots of advice on our website to help you prepare. Six Essential Steps for Successful Interviewing is a good place to start. We have advice on how to prepare for competency-based interviews, informational interviews and telephone interviews. You can also read how to respond if an interviewer tells you you’re overqualified for the role and what to wear to interviews.
8. Maintain your motivation

Our motivation to achieve our goals inevitably fades after a while. Learn from psychology research about how to stay motivated longer-term.

9. Come along to our Women Returners 2019 Conference!
If you’d like a return to work boost, join us in London on 19 May. It’s a highly motivational day packed with return-to-work advice, support and inspiration and the opportunity to meet informally with employer sponsors and other like-minded women. The day will be relevant to you no matter where you are on your return-to-work journey. Find out more about our Conference here and book your place at the Super Early Bird price of £80 (available until 27 January).
Sign up to our free network for more advice, support and job opportunities.

You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

Top Tips from Returner Employers

For those of you who missed our Conference on Monday, we’ll be sharing tips, advice and video on this blog over the coming weeks. To get started, here’s some advice from our returner employer panel.

Be clear on the skills you bring
The panel suggested that returners practice articulating what skills they bring, and also advocating for the skills they developed while on their career break. Sharmini Selverajah, Head of the Returner Policy Team at the Government Equalities Office said “Remember to recognise the skills you gained outside of paid work”. She confirmed that she is much better at her work as a result of experience raising her children, including managing and negotiating.
Flexibility is possible
The panel confirmed that many returners are working flexibly. Stephanie Marshall, Talent Acquisition Lead for Fidelity International, stated that flexible working is now requested by employees throughout the organisation, including millennials. Five years ago, no one would ask about flexibility. “Now, they are much more up front about it,” she said.
Practice your negotiation skills
Tricia Nelson, Head of Talent at EY, suggested women returning to work should practice their negotiation skills, be direct about what they need and not talk themselves out of a higher salary or better terms. “Ask for what you want and then zip it,” she said. “Don’t unpack it live.” Alexander Clifford-Turner, EMEA chief financial data offer for Bloomberg, agreed: “It’s a very good tactic to say what you want and shut up.”
Don’t sell yourself short
Returners are now seen by many employers as a valuable talent pool. Sharmini Selverajah said “The business case is clear”. Of course, you need to find the employers who will value your skills and experience – looking for companies with returner programmes and/or family-friendly working policies is a good way to do that.

Back to your future? Join us at the Women Returners Conference 2017

Following our blogging summer break, we are excited to announce the launch of our 2017 Conference, on Monday 20 November in London. We ran our first Conference last year (see here for how it came about), and had such positive feedback that we decided to make it into an annual event.

If you can make it to London, do join us for a day of inspiration, advice and support, specifically designed for women professionals returning to work after a long career break. Alongside workshops and speaker sessions, you will have the opportunity to meet informally with other like-minded women and returner employers. You will also be able to hear the personal experiences of other returners, talking about what it’s like to be on a returnship and how they’ve found being back at work after a long break. The Conference is supported by the 30% Club, and sponsored by Bloomberg and FDM Group (with other sponsors in the pipeline). The content will be relevant to you whether your background is finance, law, tech, engineering, marketing, retail or any other professional area, and whether your career break is 2, 5 or 15+ years.

See here for highlights and a video from our sold-out 2016 event.

“Brilliant, a belief shifting event. I arrived feeling a lot of too – too old, too out of touch, too long a gap, too unwanted and left with all of those reversed, brimming with possibilities. Thank you.” 2016 Conference Attendee
To find out more about the Conference including how to book tickets, see here.

If you’re not able to join us, we’ll make sure we post advice from our speakers and panelists on the blog after the event. These are our Top 5 Return to Work Tips from last year’s Conference.


We hope to see you in November!



Posted by Donna

Women Returners Conference 2016 – Video highlights

One of our 2016 highlights was our first Women Returners Conference. We wanted to share a video which aims to capture the high level of energy and enthusiasm on the day.

Our thanks to everyone who was involved in making it such a fantastic experience: speakers, sponsors, coaches, organisers and all of you who joined us in the audience. We hope it inspires you to make 2017 your Back to Work Year!

Top 5 Conference Return to Work Tips

We’ve just about recovered from our Women Returners Conference last week … the pre-organisation, the excitement of the day and the post-event exhaustion! It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and energy of our 175 attendees and very rewarding for us to read the positive feedback we received after the event (see here for Conference photos and comments).
For those of you who weren’t able to join us, I wanted to share some advice from our speakers and from our panelists of successful returners and returner employers.
Top 5 Return to Work Tips
1. Don’t underestimate yourself.  This was a consistent theme, starting with our first keynote speaker Jane Garvey’s observation that women too easily doubt our own abilities and that we need to recognise that we bring so much more to the table than we think.
2. Think maturity not age. Our ICAEW employer panel talked about the value to companies both of life maturity and of the amazing array of skills and experience that returners can offer in comparison with a young graduate and even compared with people who have risen up through the ranks.
3. Appreciate your ‘Cognitive Diversity’. Brenda Trenowden, Chair of 30% Club, highlighted the push from UK business to increase diversity. Alongside diversity of gender, age and ethnicity the new goal is a team with ‘cognitive diversity’.  Basically, companies are valuing people who think differently. From my experience, seeing the world in a different way comes easily to people returning after a career break – you return with a new, and often more balanced, perspective.
4. Be brave and move out of your comfort zone. Many of our panelists, including those with very impressive CVs, talked about the self-doubt and anxiety they had faced on their return to work. However, all of them said that the pain was worth it in the end!
5. Move to action. This was my main takeout from the stories we heard. Don’t procrastinate endlessly, looking for the perfect next step. One of our panelists retrained as a mediator, before deciding that wasn’t the right path for her; she’s now working in a legal role she loves after taking a set of interim legal roles along the way. It may be a windy road back, but you’ll learn more by doing than by thinking.

More advice
We’re working on some advice video clips from Conference speakers and panelists and hope to share these with you over the next month or so. In the meantime, see our website for other returner stories and advice.

Posted by Julianne

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 

Tips for Networking at a Conference

The Women
Returners team are looking forward to meeting many of you at our Women Returners Conference next month. You will enjoy the
panels and workshops that we are presenting and there will be plenty of
networking opportunities. I know how scary the idea of networking is to many
returners so this post will attempt to reduce your fear and prepare you for
making the most of our Conference, which will be relevant for any other similar networking event.
3 Tips for Conference Networking
 
Set a goal: there are no rules about how many
conversations to have or business cards to collect, but if you set yourself a
goal, you can feel good when you have achieved it. For those of you who are
actively seeking to return to work, there might be a specific employer you want
to talk to, while for those of you just starting to think about your return, your
goal could be to practise speaking to a stranger. It is up to you to decide:
just make sure that your goal is realistic and remember to congratulate
yourself when you have reached it.
 
Plan your introduction: although one of the workshops will
cover in detail how to craft your personal story, you will help yourself by
having a brief introduction prepared. This needs three elements: your name;
your background; and your reason for being at the conference. You don’t need to
talk about the reason for your break, or its length at this stage. If you are
new to networking, it might help you to practise saying your introduction out
loud or with a friend, to get used to talking about yourself in this way.
 
Prepare topics: whether you are focused on meeting an
employer or still working out your future direction, advance preparation is
essential. This includes: researching individual speakers and employers online
and through your existing networks; developing questions you can ask both to
specific individuals and generally to other conference attendees. If you find
it uncomfortable to talk about yourself initially, asking questions of the
people you meet is an easier way to start a conversation. Advance preparation
means you can arrive at the conference confident that you’ll have something to
say to the new people you will meet.
Finally, remember that everyone else attending the Conference is a returner, just like
you. You are likely to find something in common with most of the people you
meet and you will have taken yourself one step closer to getting back to work.
For other
posts on networking see:
 
Posted by Katerina

Back to your Future? Join us at the Women Returners Conference 2016

London November 14th 2016



How our first Conference came about

At Women Returners, we’ve been talking for a year or so about holding our own large-scale event in London. We’ve had many requests from our network for a forum where they can both meet other returning professional women and get advice and support from us in person. I loved the idea, as we know how isolating it can be when you decide to return to the workforce after a break. I also saw this as a great opportunity to bring returners together with the corporate employers interested in hiring them, and for a group of inspiring women who had successfully returned to the workforce after a long break to tell their stories to others.

However, we were also rather daunted. Although we have lots of experience of running workshops and event speaking, we worried that moving into event management would involve a whole new set of skills. Recognising this as a ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ moment, we decided to practice what we preach and to give it a go! We brought in the expertise of Stephanie as our events consultant and the Conference started to take shape.

What’s happening at the Conference

It has been a lot of work to set up, but I’m very excited by the programme on offer. We’re delighted to have sponsorship from the ICAEW, who are hosting the event in Central London, and from a diverse range of employers who will be on hand to talk about their returner programmes and to meet informally with the women attending (including Credit Suisse, Skanska, O2 and Fidelity International). The fantastic Jane Garvey from Woman’s Hour will be speaking, as will Brenda Trenowden, the Chair of the 30% Club who is a strong advocate of returnship programmes. We have panels of successful returners who can tell you what it’s really like to be on a returnship and how to make your own way back if a returner programme doesn’t appeal or isn’t available.

You’ll get to meet a peer group of like-minded women – and the Women Returners team! I’ll be telling you about the changing context for UK returners and running a workshop to help you to be more targeted in your career. And those who register soon will have the chance of a 1-1 coaching session with one of our expert coaches. You’ll also get CV advice from Victoria McLean at City CV.

There’s much more on offer through the day, so do look at our website for more details if you can make it to London on 14th November: Women Returners Conference. Through sponsorship we’ve managed to heavily subsidise the tickets so they’re only £85 before 30th Sept.

We hope to meet you then!

Posted by Julianne