Get your home life in order. It’s not just about you: going back will affect everyone in the family, and they’ll need to do more. Delegate, organise and schedule – be clear about who needs to do what and when. Not just the cooking but the being in for the plumber, the washing, the first point of call for school if you’re unable to answer the phone.
People buy people. Our research showed that women returning after a career break are five times more likely to find work through a contact than through a recruiter. Use your contacts. Not just everyone you’ve worked with but your wider circle of friends and the people at the school gates. Have a crisp, concise pitch of what value you bring and what you’re looking for.
If you want to change direction, be realistic. Think about how your next position could be a step on the way to your ideal job. If you’ve been an accountant, say, then a move into branding with a charity is going to be a stretch. Your first move might need to be into finance in the charitable sector.
Maximise your social networks. Make friends with LinkedIn: it’s where all the jobs are. Follow the people who are hiring – it might feel like stalking, but it’s not. Get your profile updated and ask ex-colleagues for recommendations. On Facebook, look for groups where you know people will be posting the sort of opportunities you’re looking for; follow the organisations that are hiring people like you. Same with Twitter. Dedicate at least an hour a day to this. And double-check all your online profiles.
Mothers want flexibility but there’s not a lot on offer. The flexible-working site Timewise found that fewer than one in 10 quality jobs (ie paying over £20k a year) is advertised as flexible. Don’t apply only for those jobs. Focus on what you have to offer. If you’re confident you can deliver the job in a way that suits you and the employer, be prepared to negotiate. Start the conversation with what you can do, not what your limitations are (no one wants to hear about your complex childcare arrangements).
• She’s Back: Your Guide To Returning To Work by Lisa Unwin and Deb Khan (Urbane Publications, £9.99).
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Article originally posted by theguardian.