There are many reasons why women leave the workforce. For many it involves starting (or expanding) a family, taking a break to continue studies or simply a sabbatical to refresh and reset. When the time comes to re-enter the workforce, it can seem daunting applying for roles when you’ve been out of the loop for a period of time. Here are our top tips to help you prepare for the transition back into the workforce.
1. Work on your confidence. This can sometimes be our own undoing when it comes to knocking on recruiter’s doors. Highlight your key skills, focus on a previous project or experience at work where you excelled and talk about that to underline the value that you would bring to the role.
2. Demonstrate that you have kept up-to-date with your industry. Experienced women shouldn't feel that they need to take a course to get back to work, but it is worth making sure that you still belong to your industry association and to attend a couple of networking or education sessions to show that you have stayed in touch with your industry. Attending events like these will also boost your confidence.
3. Highlight your ‘soft skills’. During your career break you probably developed or enhanced a whole range of skills such as negotiating, time-management or multi-tasking. Don’t make these your main selling point but it's worth thinking about how to present them. It's particularly worthwhile if you've taken on voluntary roles such as running the parent and teacher association, organising school fundraisers or been the treasurer of a school-related organisation.
4. Focus first on delivery, not on flexibility. The burning conversation that women may want to have when they go back to work is about flexibility, but bear in mind that the employer is more focused on what you can deliver. First, commit to the deliverables and then negotiate flexibility. This point might be a bit contentious but the truth is that in a lot of cases, high-performers get all the flexibility that they need.
5. Stay connected. Don’t underestimate the importance of your network. When you are re-entering the workforce you want to tell as many people as you can that you are coming back. Your network can vouch for you and support your re-entry.
Connect with your network and keep the conversations going.