Is your career break or maternity leave coming to an end? In this interview, our very own Michelle Hand, Senior Consultant at Matrix Recruitment talks about how some women find going back to work a daunting prospect, particularly if they have been out of the workplace for more than a year. The article was published in on 7th June 2018.

As seen on on June 7th 2018

Returning to work after a hiatus is never easy. Perhaps you are on extended maternity leave. Maybe you took a sabbatical or career break or took yourself off travelling (lucky you!).

But what happens when it’s time to go back? Will you be ready?

Many people relish the thought of getting back to former colleagues or getting stuck into a new job or career.

But for many more, going back to work, particularly if you’ve been out of the workplace for more than a year, can be a daunting and often confidence-shattering prospect.

Career Break Image via @theeverygirl_ on Instagram 2

Our Recruitment expert Michelle Hand says that a year can be a long time in today’s fast-paced world.

“Things do change and you can never assume that you can just pick up from where you left off,” says Michelle.

“You may be returning to new colleagues, different offices, a new boss or maybe new work practices. If starting a brand new job or embarking on a new career, you may not feel work-ready at all.”

Thankfully there are lots of things you can do to help with the transition and Michelle speaks from experience having returned to work herself last year, having had her first child.

“At Matrix Recruitment, we work with both women and men who want to return to work but who feel they are out of touch, or that they could be returning to an environment where they are competing with more skilled or career-hungry colleagues.”

These fears are understandable and indeed quite natural, but should not act as a deterrent, says Michelle who offers five tips on making the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Get your CV up-to-date

– This is essential if you are looking for a new job and it’s usually your first chance to make a good impression

– Spend time on your CV and ask someone you trust to check it for any typing errors or glaring errors

– Use this as an opportunity to really showcase your skills and sell yourself, but do stick to the facts!

2. Network, network, network

– Keep your professional profiles (LinkedIn etc) up to date and reconnect with former colleagues, friends or business contacts

– Check out articles and blogs that are relevant to the industry in which you are interested and get up to speed with what’s current and what’s new

– If returning to the same job, find out what might have changed in the time you were away. Look up the company website and social media updates so that you feel more tuned in

– If there are any work nights out before you return, make sure you drop by and say hi to colleagues; it will make that first day back that bit easier

3. Temping

– If you are feeling unsure about committing to a full-time job, temping is a fantastic option

– Most recruitment firms can assist you in finding temporary work and you can take the time you need to see what suits you

– It’s also a great way to get back into the swing of things and understand any new working trends

4. Upskill

– This could be the right time and the chance you need to evaluate your skills; are they still relevant or as sharp as they should be for the job or career you really want?

– Be honest with yourself and if you need support or an objective point of view, speak to a recruitment agency that can provide you with a candid assessment

– It might not take much to update your skills and doing so can be a real confidence booster

5. Believe in yourself

– Not having worked for a year or two doesn’t mean you should undervalue your capabilities or what you can bring to the workplace

– Have self-belief as chances are, you’ve a huge range of skills, some of which will have been developed during your time away from work

– If you are a mum, for example, you are probably highly organised, and more interested in getting the job done than wasting time on Facebook; if you have been away travelling, you may have a new perspective on how to address challenges

One last thing…

Finally, Michelle advises that you may need to be patient – both with work and with yourself. “It may take some time to settle in and get back into a new routine,” says Michelle.

“But that’s ok and is to be expected. Stick with it, don’t be hard on yourself and in no time, you should be back in the swing of things.”

Michelle Hand - Back to Work

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