Bye bye baby, hello office!
Re-entering the workforce after having a baby is naturally daunting, but can also be considered a perfect time to create a fulfilling, structured and flexible role that works for everyone.
Working Mums are the norm – as a recruiter I meet women coming back to work, I chat with employers who have adapted to a more family friendly culture to secure the best talent plus I’ve recently come back to work after having a baby myself.
Information about pregnancy, child birth and the baby’s first year is everywhere - online, friends, family, mum’s coffee groups etc., but what about re-entering the workforce after some time away? Guilty feelings can start to surface upon returning to work, in addition after a break some women can lose their confidence and their perceived value (and subsequently remuneration) in the work force…..and to all of this, I say no!!
Coming back to the workforce you are a keen multitasker who works smarter! Just because you’ve had X amount of time off work doesn’t mean you are any less relevant or should be treated any differently. You will ideally have kept in touch with colleagues/clients and business happenings. If anything, you are more resilient and less ruffled by things as you have gained your confidence navigating parenthood. So, here’s some ideas on how to assimilate back to working life…
- Ensure you’re going back for the right reasons - work out what success is to you. Is it to earn money? If so, you need to work out the additional expenses of childcare and if it actually makes sense. If it’s for adult time, could you find this in other ways e.g. voluntary work? If it’s for your career, make sure you put together a career plan first.
- If you have had a big break and/or are potentially looking at new roles, take this an opportunity to make a career change; since becoming a Mum your interests/the landscape may have changed.
- Update your resume and LinkedIn profile and use your networks where you can. Be strategic, work with recruiters when you can as they can help introduce you to roles/companies.
- If a lot of time has passed, you might need to upskill to stay relevant in your chosen field. You can do online courses while at home for example and can practice interviews to grow your confidence.
- Stay connected with old and new colleagues and managers, in order to keep in touch with your working self.
- If you have had your first baby and you are going back to your previous role – make sure you go back only when you are BOTH ready.
- Ensure you have a supportive boss/HR team. Upon your return you will need some flexibility in terms of hours and sick days, so ensure you set clear expectations that work for both you and your company, from the outset.
- Limit the guilt. Be kind to yourself. The first two weeks are going to be the hardest and are a big adjustment for everyone.
- Get assistance – have home help if you can afford it, finishing a full day at the office and then managing housework and childcare can be exhausting.
Make sure you don’t devalue yourself. Don’t lose your self-confidence. You are worthy and can apply for roles that will get you a promotional rise. Know what the market rates are for your level of expertise. A career gap doesn’t mean you are any less significant – it means you are a new (adult) you!
Having a baby isn’t a handbrake on your career, if anything it makes you more resilient.