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Jo's blog: On Being A Returner

clock Released On 13th Jun 2022

Jo's blog: On Being A Returner

I’ve been on a career break. I am not sure if there is ever a right time to do it or a time not to do it, but as it turned out for us, circumstances conspired to make the decision a little easier. Our nanny wanted to retire due to ill health and a company reorganization meant I had the opportunity to take a redundancy package.

Initially we discussed it being a one-year break. I had returned from maternity leave twice before – having taken a year each time. Returning to the same role within a familiar organisation was already daunting enough, so I wasn’t too keen to stretch my career break much further.

However, fast forward 4 years (!!!) and I am beginning the transition back to work. 

Since I left the City a lot has changed. My previous hard fought-for ‘privilege’ of working from home one or two days a week is now of course commonplace thanks to COVID. But there are also many other positive changes and developments. Companies are recognising the vast talent pool of women that have taken a career break and who have a huge wealth of knowledge and experience to offer. These companies are now very active in promoting their returnship programs which offer flexibility, mentoring, coaching and internships that lead to permanent roles for many.

And the efforts are becoming ever more coordinated. Companies regularly share returners stories and hold webinars to detail their offered programs. Next week I will attend a free webinar on developing my brand, specifically targeted at those returning to work after a career break. LinkedIn now allows for Career Breaks to be added to the experience section of your profile!.

Yes, the application process can seem somewhat daunting at the outset – I have seen application questions such as what have I done during my break to develop my skill set? What will my career break bring to the company? These questions suggest I might have set my sights on doing an MBA or similar instead of the ‘no big plan’ approach that I ultimately went with!

I did get roped into the PTA before I even officially left my previous job. Could I put that down and say I now excel in difficult conversations?? We did two house moves with my husband in different country and one of those was during COVID! Project management skills - tick - and another big tick for the tricky conversations. And we travelled a lot - at least for the first two years. It wasn’t a 24/7 holiday – we have two children after all – but I have enjoyed the time, learnt a lot and feel we gave our children some life changing experiences. They are growing up and becoming ever more independent by the day. Their school days are longer. And our post lockdown puppy is probably never going to come in from the garden without significant bribing no matter how many training sessions I do! I am ready to return. 

I am nervous and excited - probably in equal measure.

I have much prep work to do. My CV needs a refresh; terminology will need to be relearned; confidence needs to be rebuilt. 

I loved the sense of self that being employed gave me, and I genuinely have missed it.  

When I returned from maternity leave in the past, support was patchy – it seemed everyone was on a learning curve. As always, I am sure there is much work to be done, but as I set out on my returner path, I know I have much to offer and I am taking the step optimistically!

Before her career break Jo worked in Financial Services for 20 years. Jo is married and has two boys and spoilt puppy! 

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