Career Tips

Career Reboot-8 Tips for Returning to Work

Follow these tips to ensure a smooth transition

      • 1.Skills and Strengths Audit

A skills audit reminds you what you can offer employers. Dig out your old appraisal forms, ask family, trusted friends and colleagues ‘What am I good at?’

Think about how skills developed as a parent are directly applicable to work. For example, parenting develops your influencing and negotiation skills, problem solving, multi-tasking, and time management like no job ever!

Lacking inspiration? There are skills lists available online to prompt you, or review Position Descriptions for the selection criteria of roles of interest.

Resume Tip: Use the first page of your Resume to highlight key skills and competencies and a career summary or profile that highlights your value to potential employers.

      • 2.Refresh Knowledge and Skills

Remembering you already have skills from your working life and education is the start but describing how you have kept up to speed with your industry or profession will also help. Do some research to see if there are some gaps in your knowledge or skills and take steps to fill them. This could be through further education, short workshops or talking to people currently working in the industry. Information is readily available from job ads, industry associations, LinkedIn groups and industry employers.

      • 3.Mind the Gap

So what do you put on your Resume to describe the gap when you weren’t working?

Resume Tip: List full-time parent or carer under your work experience/career history in its appropriate chronological spot. Did you take on some volunteer work at Kinder or school, join the committee, coordinate a stall at the fair, run the tuck-shop, set up an online business, sell hand-made items at markets? Include achievements that relate to the skills that employers are looking for and the roles you are interested in.

It is amazing the range of things we do that we don’t think of as work but add so much value to what we can offer prospective employers. The time you spent on your career break counts and the unpaid work of raising a family is invaluable; approach the job search process with pride.

      • 4.Reconnect

Start to rebuild and reactivate your network. When clients say to me “but I don’t know anyone” I challenge them to make a list starting with family, friends, other parents, former workmates. Begin with ‘warm’ relationships, with each person you know, ask if they know someone else that could be helpful to chat with.

      • 5.Love LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become a key element of job-search activities and professional networking. A presence on LinkedIn helps employers and recruiters to find you. Consider the position or role you want and ensure that your profile has at least 5-6 keywords that relate to that. You can use LinkedIn to check out the profiles of other people in the same industry or profession-how do they describe themselves?

6.Don’t be worried about asking for flexible work

Not everyone seeking flexible work is a parent –people without children also want to work in a different way. More and more employers are changing their approach to finding new talent, shifting the focus to output, retention and engagement through flexible work practices.

Prepare a good business case for working flexibly. Flexible working more than part-time work. For example, five days in four, a nine-day fortnight, late starts or early finishes, working from home, job share.

      • 7.Test Child-Care

Finding the right child care arrangements and the right job can take some time. Whilst you are preparing to return to work consider taking up that child care place, before/after school care, locking in the grandparents or other carers for one or two days to test how it would go when you return to work.

      • 8.Prepare & Practice, Prepare & Practice, Prepare & Practice

If it’s been a while since that last job interview, don’t go in on a wing and a prayer. Anxiety and self-doubt are normal for anyone that has been out of the workforce. You can ready yourself for interviews by selecting a range of behavioural interview questions and prepare answers that show- case examples of how you demonstrate the skills, experience and qualities a prospective employer is looking for. Practice on your partner or trusted friend until you feel comfortable with your responses.

It can be daunting returning to work and preparation will help, but above all be compassionate towards yourself and persist.

Celeste Tramonte is a founding member of the FlexCoach panel of career and executive coaches.  As a career and leadership coach, she helps people reconnect to what matters in their work-life and organisations realise the benefits of positive career development.

Celeste combines coaching with the practical tools and resources people often need when crafting a career: strengths, personality and other career assessments, help with Resumes, LinkedIn profiles, interview preparation, job search strategies, negotiating new roles and job-offers.


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