Are you taking parental leave?
Even though the natural, and maybe, logical thought is to wait and see, some initial preparation for your return to work, before and during your leave, will ensure you have better choices and are in a stronger position on your return.
Step 1 Start to prepare for your return – before you leave
Give some thought to how you would like to return to work with these examples of questions to ask yourself:
Are you expecting to come back full time/part-time? Or hoping for some flexible options? What is the company position on working part-time and/or flexibly? How do you feel your Manager will react?
What are others doing in the organisation? Is there someone you could use as a sounding board to identify possible complications? Is there someone who could provide support?
Can you see your position working flexibly? What are the advantages?
Identify the benefits you predict for the business. Think about any impact on your colleagues and team, and how this might be managed. Be confident in your proposal and show your commitment to the organisation.
Step 2 Stay connected to work colleagues
Whilst it is easy to look at parental leave as a break from the pressures of your work, totally alienating yourself for any length of time is going to make it harder to return. Schedule coffee catch ups with team members, ensure you are invited to the work social functions. Team meetings, planning workshops and training sessions are all good opportunities to retain contact, involvement and a presence in the team.
Step 3 Think entrepreneurial
Changes within workplaces are very common and in a short space of time the company culture or key aspects of the job you had, could change significantly. For example, your favourite manager may resign, your team function moved offshore or the office might relocate making your commute unattractive. Don’t restrict your networking to your current workplace.
Retain memberships with industry associations and attend their networking function. Join online forums to ensure you are aware of current issues and trends. Set up searches on Seek and LinkedIn so you are aware of the job market within your industry. Keep active.
Step 4 Establish and maintain a presence on LinkedIn
Set aside time on a weekly basis to ensure you are visible on LinkedIn. Like or comment on a relevant post, join industry groups and keep informed of current issues. Connect with key players. Whilst it doesn’t replace real networking it allows you some level of visibility and involvement from the comfort of your couch!
Your knowledge, experience and skills are valued by your employer and they will appreciate your loyalty and commitment to the organisation. Use this to make preparations for your return before you leave. Maintaining your industry connections and your confidence during your work break will ensure you have options for your return to work.
Carol Erkes is a qualified career coach, with a background in HR and recruitment. She provides practical, solution-focused coaching that ensures you are confident and positive, making informed career choices.
Carol loves working with mums returning to work, professional career transitions and outplacement coaching. She specialises in developing quality resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and helping to design a tailored and targeted job search strategy.
Carol Erkes is a founding member of the FlexCareers panel of career and executive coaches. You can contact her through her FlexCoach profile here