Returning to work after having a baby

If you’ve taken time out to raise your family, returning to work after a break is often quite a daunting process.  Yet it doesn’t need to be.

For some women it’s not just about getting back in to a satisfying role that matters, it’s about finding one that fits around the childcare.

The good news is that skills you never thought you possessed become part of your daily routine.  For example:  planning, organising, coordinating, team building, and even mediation.  The list is endless.  It’s just unfortunate that most employers do not yet recognise the talents that a stay at home mum can possess.

Here’s what I suggest … 

Deciding what you want to do

The upside to being at home is that you have a little time away from what was your normal routine where you can hopefully visualise your ideal career based upon the options available to you.

Finances: Going back to work is invariably going to help your financial situation yet you must consider outgoings such as childcare, especially if your hours are expected to be long.   Calculate whether you can afford it.

Childcare:  Certainly most people I know are without local family, or friends, who could offer help when needed.   It can be quite an isolating situation.  To call in additional help you are looking at either hiring a nanny, an au pair (if you have the space), or using one of the local nurseries.

Belief system:  There is so much pressure of women to be a super mum – a powerful force in the office and an ever multi-tasking mum.  If you believe that it is best for your child that you are at home then stick to your belief system.  You may however really want to get back to work.  There’s nothing worse than being unhappy and doing something you really don’t want to do just because you’re worried about what others think.

Options:  Whether you are on maternity leave or not you have a perfect opportunity to choose whether to change career or even go it alone; become self employed and set up a business.  You might find that hobbies you’d long ignored could become a vocation.  You might decide to change career, or role within your existing organisation.  Use your time wisely.

Satisfying your needs:  Listening to your darlings babble and watching them dribble whilst keeping the house intact and you sanity for that matter, it is very easy to yearn for adult conversation that doesn’t centre around nappies or the stuff that you find inside it.  If you are simply after stimulating those brain cells – consider volunteering – even if for the short term until you are ready to choose your next career move.

Maximising your time

One of the great things about being a new mum is the ability to network with a whole group of women whom you may never have had the chance to talk to beforehand.  Use this network.   Having decided what you want to do – spread the word.  Just because your fellow mum at the coffee meeting is also covered in the mornings breakfast it doesn’t mean they can’t make introductions or give you moral support.

Being at home with your children also frees you up to offer flexible volunteering.  Grab the opportunity to do so and learn new skills.  Employers are ever more interested in seeing that time has been put to good use.

Start your own business.  You don’t have to achieve a multi-million pound turnover in your first year.  You simply need to do something you enjoy doing, whilst working around the needs of your children; and get paid whilst doing so.

Getting back in the job marke t

Should you decide to look for a new role then you will need to start marketing yourself.  That will include updating your CV and if appropriate – your LinkedIn profile.

Remember your CV and covering letter (if appropriate) is what gets you the interview so it is vital you spend time getting it right.

Network and use your contacts wisely.

Don’t undersell yourself.  It’s really easy to forget who you were before nappies, screaming tantrums and broken sleep.  Be confident.  Believe in yourself.

What to include within your CV

If you did any study or voluntary work throughout your time off then do include that within your CV, especially if they are relevant to your career.

Always consider the audience.  Think about your future employer – the sector, the type of organisation and their ethos.

Do not worry about the ‘baby’ gap on your CV.  There are quite a few (to say the least) mums out there either in the same position as you.  You are not a freak of nature and you will not scare off a potential new employer.   You are a mum.  Be proud.

Include your contact details, education history and qualifications (although there is no need to include detailed results from school unless it was less than ten years ago), your employment history (and try to ensure they are relevant to the job you are applying for), a bullet point list of skills and strengths, and a very short overview of your hobbies and interests.

Make sure that your personality shines through.

Keep it to a maximum of three pages – ideally two.

If you are still lacking confidence ask a few people to look over your documents before you send them.

What next?

For more information on setting up your own business:  Starting a business

For more help on flexible working: Flexible working

For help with childcare concerns:

For help with building up your confidence whilst getting your CV written or your website copy put together, contact me: michelle@cvornotcv.com

www.cvornotcv.com is a CV consultancy service, which offers tailored packages including LinkedIn profile writing, web copy and biographies, and CV writing and editing.   Most of all it offers a personal service that will assist you in attaining the career you really want.

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