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 the Daily Mail on May 13th 2017.

Career break over or maternity leave coming to an end?

As seen in the Daily Mail newspaper on May 13th 2017

Let’s be honest, going back to work after a hiatus is never easy. Maybe you have taken extended maternity leave; perhaps you are in the midst of a career break or were adventurous enough to be able to take a few years off to travel.  There are many reasons for taking a break from the world of work and for many of us; there are just as many compelling reasons for returning.

Michelle Hand, Senior Consultant at Matrix Recruitment says that some women find going back to work a daunting prospect, particularly if they have been out of the workplace for more than a year.

“A year is a long time in today’s fast-paced world where things are changing almost on a daily basis”, explains Michelle. “Unfortunately, you can’t assume that you can pick up from where you left off.  If returning to the same company there may be new people, new policies, different ways of doing things or even a new boss who you have never met. And, if you are taking on a brand new job or considering a complete change of career, well, that’s another matter entirely.”

But according to Michelle, there are lots of practical steps that you can take to help with the transition and she speaks from experience having returned to work last year having had her first child. “I was fortunate in that I have a great employer and was ready to return to work. Not everyone is in this position and we work closely with women (and men) who are looking to return to the workplace but feel they are either out of touch or cannot face the prospect of being rejected by potential employers because of ‘younger and hungrier’ candidates.”

Unsurprisingly, feeling like this is natural for many candidates returning back to work, especially when they’ve been absent for an extended period of time, they can be plagued with uncertainty and low confidence, but it shouldn’t act as a deterrent in the slightest.

To make the transition back into the working world a smooth one, Michelle provides some useful tips that will go a long way:

Prepare an excellent CV – Click here for tips!

  • Having a really strong CV should be everyone’s starting point, but you’d be surprised by how many poor CVs, mistakes and embellishments recruiters see each week, but ‘that’s where we can help’, says Michelle
  • First impressions count and your CV is usually your first chance to make a good impression
  • Update your CV and spend time getting it right; it should be no longer than two pages and should be tailored for the job you are chasing
  • Ask someone else to check it for typos. A CV that is peppered with mistakes won’t get you past the first post
  • Don’t be shy and don’t lie. This is your chance to really sell yourself, your skills, your experience and why you are right for the job.  It’s not an opportunity to fabricate stories about your love of skiing or interest in the arts. Stick to the facts

  Networking Online

  • Keep your online professional profiles up to date and if you’re not already on LinkedIn, sign up and re-connect with former colleagues, friends in business and other business partners
  • If you have no idea what the above tip is all about – seek advice from the nearest teenager!
  • Check out articles and blogs relevant to the industry in which you are interested. It won’t take long before you are up to speed again and a little knowledge goes a long way
  • If returning to the same company, keep abreast of changes through work colleagues, media articles and via the website

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail

  • When was the last time you interviewed for a job? Chances are it was a long time ago and you cannot expect to just turn up on the day and perform to your best without a good dollop of preparation; you just can’t beat it
  • Read up on the company and consider all of the reasons why you are right for the job
  • Think about all the questions they might ask of you and make sure you practice the answers to them, over and over
  • Don’t worry if you are nervous, this is very natural but the more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel and the less nervous you will appear
  • Michelle recommends sitting down with a Recruitment Consultant who can provide one-to-one tips on the interview process and help you prepare

Think about temping

  • If you are not sure that the time is right for you to return to work or you’re not sure you want to commit to full-time employment, temping is a great option
  • Most recruitment firms can assist you in finding temporary work and you can take your time seeing what suits you and what you like, before making the final commitment
  • It’s also a great way to bring yourself up to speed on different workplaces and spaces

Be honest – with yourself

  • It might be necessary to honestly evaluate your skills, which may no longer be relevant to the jobs you really want
  • Taking a step back on the career ladder might be what’s needed to allow you to settle back in and gain confidence at a pace that suits you
  • Speak to a recruitment agency that can provide you with an honest assessment. You may find that it doesn’t take much to update your skills and bolster your capabilities, allowing you to pursue that dream job with confidence

Finally, believe in yourself

  • Just because you’ve been out of the workforce for an extended period, it doesn’t mean you should undervalue your achievements, skills and capabilities
  • Have self-belief in what you’re capable of and what you can bring to the workplace that someone else can’t

Michelle says patience is a virtue that is well and truly tested when returning to the workplace but advises being patient – with work and with yourself.  “If you haven’t worked in two years, it is going to take time to settle in, settle down and get back into a new routine,” says Michelle.  “That’s ok and rather than stressing about it, accept the situation for what it is and look forward to the future and not backwards.”

For people looking to make a leap back into the workplace, but aren’t sure where to start, then begin with a good recruitment agency such as Matrix Recruitment. With offices in Dublin, Waterford, Carlow, Athlone and Galway, Matrix Recruitment specialises in a number of job categories including accountancy, financial services, HR and sales & marketing to name just a few.


Michelle Hand - Back to Work

Michelle Hand

With offices located in Dublin, Athlone, Galway, Carlow and Waterford, our team are well placed to find you your dream job. Why not register your CV now and get in touch with a member of our team to discuss your next move.