Top 10 Tips for Preparing for Conference

Our top tips for getting prepared

With so much to look forward to and benefit from, how do you stay focused and get the maximum experience for you from the Conference? Here are our top tips.

1. Set yourself a goal What’s your main reason for attending? What do you want to get out of the Conference? Set yourselves some objectives to achieve over the two days e.g. registering your details with some key returner employers, connecting with other returners or making notes to improve your CV and LinkedIn profile.

2. Become familiar with the software in advance We will send out details of RingCentral (formerly called Hopin) – the fantastic online Conference platform that we use – in advance so you have a chance to download it and set up your profile on it. You can also explore how you can use the different areas so you’re ready to go on the day.

3. Have a back-up plan for tech issues Ideally you want to follow the Conference on a desktop or laptop. But if yours sometimes has issues, have another computer, a tablet or a smart phone at the ready so you don’t miss out.

4. Make a plan Become familiar with the agenda and identify which sessions you really want to attend. Where you have a choice of sessions, consider which one is going to be most relevant for your goals. Create your plan for attending and block out the time in your diary.

5. Prioritise Conference days are not the days to multi-task. Make this your priority so you don’t get distracted and can maximise the opportunities offered.

6. Be prepared – do your research Research employers so that you can prioritise which employers you’ll visit in their booths and chat to in session rooms. Prepare your list of meaningful questions that demonstrates your research – don’t ask questions that you can easily find the answers to on their website.

7. Get your friends to attend too People often invite a friend for in-person events, but don’t think about it for virtual events. You can even get together on the day so you can sit in different sessions and swap feedback and ideas after.

8. Connect Make the most of the opportunity to connect with other returners to build your peer support group. Spend time connecting 1-1 with others as well as meeting returners in the session rooms. Connect with people you meet over the two days on LinkedIn so you can continue to support each other.

9. Note taking Have a pen and notepad ready to reflect on workshop exercises and panels and jot down notes. Set up one page for points that really resonate that you can reflect on later. One way to do this is to think ‘what is my key takeaway’, ‘what does this mean for me’, and ‘what am I going to do with this information’? Set up a second page for contact details or those you would like to connect with or follow. Don’t get distracted taking lengthy notes though – you’ll have the recordings of all workshops and panels for 30 days after the Conference to continue your reflections.

10. Take breaks! We will be giving you the opportunity for breaks throughout the day. Do ensure you get up and move, get something to eat and drink and rest your eyes from screen time. This will prepare you to come back to your next session re-energised and re-focussed.

New Year Return to Work Action Plan

The start of a new year always brings with it a renewed sense of action and focus. It’s a great time to turn your attention to your return to work plan and create some tangible outcomes for success.

Getting started

We can often feel held back in our progress because the task feels insurmountable and then procrastination kicks in as we simply don’t know where to start! We suggest a staged approach to your planning by breaking down the larger task of ‘returning to work’ into smaller sub sections. Typical sub sections could include upskilling, self-marketing, networking and applying for roles. Once you have your categories defined you can then divide each section down further into mini tasks.

The smaller your tasks are, the more inclined you will be to take action and tick them off your list, so make sure you break them down! Under ‘self-marketing’ you could list the bigger tasks of CV writing and LinkedIn but splitting them further makes them more doable e.g. update professional summary, write achievements section, write LinkedIn headline or About section.

Your tasks will have a different focus based on where you are in your return to work journey. Let’s think about that next.

1. Starting to think about your return

Sometimes this stage can feel the hardest – where to begin?! Your self-doubt and inner critic can be loudest here so it’s helpful to think about two parts to your approach – creating actionable consistent tasks and working on your mindset.

Start by scheduling some time in your diary to reflect on your career history. Revisit your professional background and achievements remembering what you enjoyed and, also what you didn’t like. It can be helpful to draw a career timeline depicting the highs and lows and jotting down key bullet points for each change. This reflection piece will help you to reconnect with your strengths, identify your interests now and understand what’s important to you about work (what you value), and will help you to begin to rebuild your professional identity and confidence.

Remember to also review your career break, this is invaluable time and will undoubtedly have shaped you personally and yield many transferable skills which you can talk about professionally when you return to work.

Finally, start talking about your desire to return to work to your network. Who could help you, with insights, ideas or intros… and who could you reconnect with? Get over the fear of reaching out and just do it! People are far more willing to help than we give them credit for. For more advice on the professional, practical and mental prep you can do, read our blog here.

2. Actively applying

There can be a temptation when returning to work to apply for many roles in the hope that one or more application will ‘stick’ and you’ll eventually get an interview. However, if you don’t focus in on the roles that you are really keen on, and which are a decent match for your skills, then you are far less likely to be successful.

Make a list of your key strengths, what you want and where you would like to be working, both geographically and in terms of organisational size/type and culture. It feels counterintuitive but the more prescriptive you can be in defining what you would like to return to and where, the easier it will be to narrow down your search and for recruiters to see your genuine interest. Ensure you review roles for ‘key words’ and make sure there is a reference to the same and similar words in your CV and application. This will ensure that your CV passes through automated CV reading technology and stands a better chance of reaching interview.

Ask a friend to read over your cover letter and application, check for errors and ensure you are drawing out the very best of your skills as relevant to that role. And finally, make sure you follow up with the organisation if you don’t hear back and also, if you are rejected. Ask them for some helpful and constructive feedback that you can take forwards.

3. Interviewing

An interview is a great opportunity for you to showcase your skills and strengths, as relevant to the role, and to establish if the role and organisation is going to be a good fit for you. You will want to stay focused during your interview and give concise answers which illustrate the impact your actions had on the business, clients or colleagues – the STAR format is still the best approach to use here. Do schedule in time to do lots of interview prep to practice your best examples that will illustrate you have the skills and experience they’re looking for.

We also recommend doing a mock interview with a friend or a coach to help you to prepare and practice those interview questions. It’s impossible to know exactly what you will be asked but knowing how to introduce yourself confidently, talking about your skills and knowing why you want the role and would be a good fit, will all stand you in good stead. Ask whoever is interviewing you ahead of the interview what competencies you are likely to be assessed against. You will also find examples of common interview questions and tips to prepare in our Advice Hub.

After your interview do take a few moments to reflect on what went well and what you struggled with and any particular questions that were tricky so that you can think those through with the benefit of hindsight for next time.

4. Just returned

If you have bridged your career gap and made it back into the workplace, congratulations on your return! At this stage you will want to concentrate not only on understanding the role and the organisation, but also on building great relationships with those around you, particularly your Line Manager. It’s helpful to have that friendly contracting conversation upfront with your line manager to set out how you would both like to work together, what’s expected of you, how the team works (team culture and norms), and flexible working norms within your team.

We recommend investing in this key relationship and ensuring you have regular catch ups and conversations with your line manager to ensure that you are on track and receiving helpful positive and constructive feedback for your development.

Consider who else you need in your network, both to get the job done but also to help you to develop your career. A mentor relationship can be so beneficial and can reap rewards on both sides. Your organisation may have a mentor scheme, or it may be more informal where you approach a potential mentor that you think would be a good match. A mentor can help you to understand the wider organisational culture and provide valuable contacts or support in raising your visibility within the business.

Time to recharge

Making the time to recharge is key, irrespective of the stage of your return. We live and work in a culture of ‘busy’ and it can be very easy to be swept up in ‘doing’ and not spend enough time ‘being’. It doesn’t have to be hard – make a note of the balance restorers that help you to calm and feel happy and then go through your diary making space for them! Small and consistent is the best way for building healthy wellbeing habits just as it is for creating your return to work action plan. And remember if you feel you are procrastinating at any stage, just chunk down your tasks into much smaller manageable tasks and you’ll find you get more done!

 

Returning to work at different ages

Returning to work can be a daunting process after a career break. You may be questioning ‘who am I’ professionally after several years out, and this may feel even more profound when returning to work after a very lengthy break.

Different life factors at play can also bring additional challenges – how does returning to work differ in your 30s, 40s and 50s – and what can you do practically to help yourself?

Your 30s

Careers often accelerate during your 30s, and it can feel hard to return when you’ve stepped out of your career while your peers have continued to progress. You may feel frustrated and that you have to play catch up with others in your age group to get your career back on track. Remember, as working lives grow longer with many of us working into our 60s and beyond, this is just a small pause in your career, and you will be back up to speed and smashing it before long!

The first step is to avoid the trap of comparison and focus instead on the value you bring. Reconnect with your professional brand – what you have to offer in terms of your strengths, skills and experience, and what you stand for – your values and your purpose. Read our blog here on personal brand and focus on raising your visibility in line with this.

This is a prime time to grow in your career and it can be really valuable to seek a mentor to help you think about your career progression, and spot opportunities for development as your resume your career. Explore organisations’ mentoring programmes, or be brave and approach people you think could be a great mentor to set up an informal mentoring relationship.

If you have young children to care for, this can be challenging both practically and emotionally.  Explore child care options early so that you’re well prepared on this front. The good news is that post pandemic, flexible working is here to stay and in many cases has made it easier for professionals to return to work. In addition new laws that come into effect in 2024 also mean that you will soon have the right to request flexibility from day one. Read our flexible working blog post for further tips and advice.

Your 40s

“The advantage to being older is that you know who you are and what you want” a returner in her 40s told us recently. Your 40s is a good time to review what you want from the next 20-30 years of your career. Reflect on your strengths, values and interests and whether these have changed since you last made career decisions. If you have children they may well be at school now, freeing up some time and space for you again and it’s a great time to reignite your career fire!

At this life stage, ageing parents may also start to pose new responsibilities and challenges.  Consider who else can help out to support loved ones when you’re back at work – other family members, friendly neighbours, community support? Explore these now whilst you have the time to set up and trial new arrangements.

Perimenopause can also bring its own challenges in your mid to late 40s. See our blog here on asking for the (peri)menopause support you need as you return to work.

Balancing all of these elements can be stressful so it’s important to practice the basics of looking after yourself well and reaching out for help. Join supportive groups for tips and advice, build your network and challenge yourself to be more visible. Listen to Tamara’s inspiring story on our Career Returners podcast about the value of networks and creating opportunities to reconnect.

Your 50s

At this age you will have achieved many brilliant things throughout your career and life. You will have years of valuable work experience, you may have lived or worked in different countries, developed your own business, volunteered your time, maybe created or designed something. You may have raised your children, cared for your parents, supported a partner, and witnessed life changing events. Value what you have to offer an employer.

Workplace ageism can be a challenge returning to work in your 50s and while it might be true that some organisations fail to recognise the great value and benefit of hiring older workers, the landscape is changing as more and more organisations embrace returner programmes and the government commits to new initiatives to help over 50s back to work.

Returners too often create self-imposed barriers that need not exist. There are lots of free online upskilling courses to help you get up to speed with new technologies, to pivot your career or to retrain into a new area. Explore our resource signposts here to get upskilled and grow your confidence.

Reframing and developing the right mindset where your age is an advantage is essential. There are lots of resources out there to help you realise your potential – check out Restless, a fast growing digital community for the over 50s and 55 Redefined, ‘champions of the over 50s’ with an over 50s jobs board and membership platform.

Whatever age and stage you’re at, remember that you bring many years of skills, experience and wisdom that employers hugely value.  For inspiration, delve into our Library of Success Stories to help you get started on this next career chapter.

Summer return to work action plan – updated blog

With the summer holidays just around the corner, it may be tempting to push thoughts about returning to work to the back of your mind. However organisations tend to start hiring again and launching new returner programmes in early September, so taking some time over the break to focus on you and your job search could pay dividends.

Here are a variety of simple ways in which you can lay strong foundations now – while taking a much-needed break – so you’ll be in a good position for an autumn return to work.

Build your return-to-work criteria

If you’re considering what to do next, think back on previous work roles, or activities that you’ve done during your career break, that you found fulfilling and reflect on what made them so.

Factors that you find fulfilling are related to your strengths and values and understanding these will give you vital clues as to what you could do next. You may want to return to your old field of work; you may decide to take elements from your past roles and identify a new one or you may find you have an idea for a new business or a desire to retrain in a new area.

If you’re able to identify new skills you’d like to acquire or skills you want to refresh, summer is a good time to research any online/in-person courses which often start in September.  See our resources signposts here for lots of helpful links.  You could also look into volunteering opportunities for September which could help upskill you in a new area.

Create your network map

It doesn’t matter if you’re not yet ready to start networking, creating your network map takes time and the sooner you can start the better. This is an ideal task to tackle during the holidays as it can be done in small chunks whenever you have some spare time.

Begin by creating three lists. In the first, put everyone you can think of from your past: people you knew at school and university, friends you may not have seen for a long time, and former colleagues from previous roles. In the second, list everyone you know now: neighbours, friends, parents from your children’s school, local community acquaintances, people you’ve met through your hobbies or volunteering. In the third, try to think of future networks and groups it would be useful to join: professional associations, local women’s networks, LinkedIn groups etc.

Even if you start by thinking that you don’t have a network, you’ll be surprised how quickly your map grows and how many people you can potentially connect with when the time comes.

Practise your introduction

Having a clear and confident intro that captures your breadth of experience and current interests often takes  time  to finesse! Take advantage of the opportunities over the summer when you might be meeting new people on holiday to practice telling your career story. You can test out and refine your answer to the often-dreaded question – ‘What do you do?’ Try using our Career Break Sandwich model, starting with your past work experience, then talking about your career break and finishing with what you want to do in the future. Hopefully by the end of the summer you will feel much more confident about talking about your skills, experience and aims for the future.

Get your family on board!

If you’re a parent, your return to work will be a lot smoother if you have the support and co-operation of your partner and children. The long summer holiday will give you plenty of time to consider what changes will need to be made and how best to prepare your family. For younger children, think about a new school drop-off/pickup routine or new after school clubs. Older children may need to be encouraged to take on more responsibility such as preparing their own packed lunches. The holidays are a great time to teach your children new skills that will help them adjust to and share your excitement about your return to work.

Taking some well-deserved space and time over the summer to continue moving forwards in your return to work action plan will help set you up for success in the autumn! Have a great summer!

Top ten tips for making the most of our Back to Your Future Conference 2023

With our Back to your Future Conference just around the corner, here’s our top tips for making the most of the opportunity!

1. Set yourself a goal
What’s your main reason for attending? What do you want to get out of the Conference? Set yourselves some objectives to achieve over the two days e.g. registering your details with some key returner employers, connecting with other returners or making notes to improve your CV and LinkedIn profile.

2. Become familiar with the software in advance
We will send out details of Hopin – the fantastic online conference platform that we use – in advance so you have a chance to download it and set up your profile on it. You can also explore how you can use the different areas so you’re ready to go on the day.

3. Have a back-up plan for tech issues
Ideally you want to follow the conference on a desktop or laptop. But if yours sometimes has issues, have another computer, a tablet or a smart phone at the ready so you don’t miss out.

4. Make a plan
Become familiar with the agenda and identify which sessions you really want to attend. Where you have a choice of sessions, consider which one is going to be most relevant for your goals. Create your plan for attending and block out the time in your diary.

5. Prioritise
Conference days are not the days to multi-task. Make this your priority so you don’t get distracted and can maximise the opportunities offered.

6. Be prepared – do your research
Research employers so that you can prioritise which employers you’ll visit in their booths and chat to in session rooms. Prepare your list of meaningful questions that demonstrates your research – don’t ask questions that you can easily find the answers to on their website.

7. Get your friends to attend too
People often invite a friend for in-person events, but don’t think about it for virtual events. You can even get together on the day so you can sit in different sessions and swap feedback and ideas after.

8. Connect
Make the most of the opportunity to connect with other returners to build your peer support group. Spend time connecting 1-1 with others as well as meeting returners in the session rooms. Connect with people you meet over the two days on LinkedIn so you can continue to support each other.

9. Note taking
Have a pen and notepad ready to reflect on workshop exercises and panels and jot down notes. Set up one page for points that really resonate that you can reflect on later. One way to do this is to think ‘what is my key takeaway’, ‘what does this mean for me’, and ‘what am I going to do with this information’? Set up a second page for contact details or those you would like to connect with or follow. Don’t get distracted taking lengthy notes though – you’ll have the recordings of all workshops and panels for 30 days after the Conference to continue your reflections.

10. Take breaks!
We will be giving you the opportunity for breaks throughout the day. Do ensure you get up and move, get something to eat and drink and rest your eyes from screen time. This will prepare you to come back to your next session re-energised and re-focussed.

Our flagship Back to Your Future Conference on 10 and 11 May 2023 is a fully interactive online event packed with the advice, inspiration, tools and connections you need to get you back to a rewarding role.
To book your ticket, click here!

Six Common Errors to Avoid in your Return-to-Work Job Application

When you are applying for a job or a returner programme after a career break, you may be totally focused on crafting and perfecting your CV. At the other extreme, you may be aiming to quickly apply for as many opportunities as possible. If you’re in either camp, it’s easy to make simple mistakes that reduce your likelihood of success. Here are 6 common errors to avoid in your job application process.

1. Don’t apply too late

Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply. Sometimes adverts/applications close early because there has been a lot of interest, or the advert link breaks, or you have problems with your internet connection. If you leave it to the last minute, you may miss out!

2. But don’t apply too early

Don’t apply as soon as the advert opens. You need to make sure that you have tailored your application to the job/programme. You want your CV to be adapted to clearly show why you are a good candidate for this opportunity, and any cover letter to be specific about both your fit and your motivation to join this specific organisation.

3. Don’t neglect the detail

Ensure that you check for grammar, spelling, and consistency. Make sure that your layout is consistent across the document. Recruiters will view lack of attention to detail in your application poorly. Double check that your contact details are correct: typos in your phone number could result in you missing a call for interview!

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Ask a friend or family member to proofread your CV and cover letter. It’s easy to miss your own errors. If you give your proofreader the job description, they can also check off the desired competencies, qualities, and skills against your CV, to highlight if you need to add more evidence.

5. Don’t send to the wrong person

If you are applying via email, double-check the email address for typos. If the job advert has a specific name to send your application to, ensure you are spelling it correctly. Avoid “Dear Sir or Madam” as this sounds very dated now. Instead you can use “Dear Hiring Manager”.

6. Don’t forget the attachments

Before sending your email, confirm that you have attached all the documents that are required. Have you been asked for a separate cover letter, proof of right to work, or other documents? Name these attachments in a professional and helpful way, for example YOUR_NAME_CV, YOUR_NAME_COVER LETTER.

Why ‘back to school’ is a good time to focus on your return to work

The nights are already drawing in and soon there’ll be an autumnal chill in the air. Many people have that ‘back to school’ feeling at this time of year – whether they have children or not – as the move into September can feel like a new beginning – more like New Year than New Year itself.

And it’s a great time to focus on a return-to-work as businesses return to full strength after the lull of July and August and start hiring again. You may also have taken time over the summer to relax and now feel refreshed, revitalised and raring to go. This can get your return-to-work off to a flying start!

Here are our top tips to capitalise on that ‘back to school’ feeling:

1. Getting started

Two of the most important things to nail when you start thinking about returning to work are clarity and focus. It’s therefore important to begin by taking the time to develop your return to work career direction as this will save you wasting time and energy on unhelpful job-hunting strategies.

If you’re struggling to decide what kind of role to look for it’s worth bearing in mind that studies consistently show that one of the key things that make us happy at work is using our strengths. Read our blogs for advice on how to identify your strengths and your unique strengths combination.

Once you have carefully considered your reasons for returning to work and what you want to do, you may find that you have too few choices or too many choices and therefore need to work on these. Taking the time to focus on your options at this stage will maximise your chances of success.

2. Making progress

Once you are clear on your career direction and the kind of roles you want to look for you’ll need to put together a great post-break CVoptimise your LinkedIn profile and brush up on your interview technique.

If you find yourself thinking things like ‘I’m too old to move into a new area’ or ‘I’m hopeless at networking’, these can be signs that you may have a fixed mindset, and this could impede your progress. Read our blog on how developing a growth mindset can improve your chances of finding a satisfying and fulfilling role.

Perhaps your professional confidence has taken a knock if you’ve had an extended career break – hardly surprising considering how much of our identity is tied up with our work. We have some top tips for boosting confidence and advice on how to look more confident than you really are.

Read our tips on how to be a successful returner candidate and also advice from people who have successfully returned to work. The advice from employers for returners on recognising your value can be especially helpful.

3. Keeping going

Looking for a new role after an extended career break can sometimes feel overwhelming and the inevitable setbacks may mean sustained motivation – so necessary for success – can wane. Read our advice on how to stay motivated in your return to work job search.

If you find yourself becoming demotivated – our stories from women who have successfully navigated a return to work will help give you encouragement and reassurance.

4. Accelerating your return to work

Our annual Back to Your Future Conference – online on 11 October 2022 – is a fantastic way to turbo-charge your return to work. Find out more about how the one-day event can help you to get back to rewarding work here.

You’ll find lots more help in the advice hub on our website. And don’t forget to sign up to our Women Returners Professional Network for information, inspiration, connections and advice.

Note: 2022 update of archive post

Advance preparation for your return to work

Is your return to work getting closer? This is the perfect time to get started to prepare for your return. Don’t wait for a job application or an offer, as advance planning can help you feel much calmer and more in control as interviews or your start date approaches.

We’d recommend tackling your preparation on three fronts: professional/technical, practical and – the bit we often forget – mental. Here are some tips for each of these.

Professional/technical preparation

Take steps to bring your knowledge back up-to-date. Resubscribing to professional journals or related press can help you to reconnect with your old sector and to understand any major developments, as well as new language or acronyms.

If you feel that your skills are rusty, there are lots of free online courses through websites such as coursera, udacity and Digital Garage, to name just a few which can help fill any skills gaps.

Get in touch with ex-colleagues and meet in person close to their work if you can. This is a good time to reconnecting with ‘dormant’ contacts through LinkedIn, particularly those colleagues you were once close to but have lost touch with in recent years. This gets you back in a professional setting and location, talking about you, your interests and the experience you bring. In turn, this can really help to boost your professional confidence. Talking about your career story with them can also help you to refine your narrative, which is very useful for when you’re meeting your new colleagues.

Practical preparation

Having practical support networks in place can really ease some of the stresses when you return to work. It helps to keep the focus on you and having the best possible start. If you’re going to need childcare, look into this asap to give yourself a good window to settle your child in before you start. And also think of your Plan B – who can look after them if they’re unwell? If you have other responsibilities, say for elderly parents, think about how you will fit in or change the care you provide now once you return.

Reflect on your current week, with all your commitments, and then consider how this will work once you add employment into the mix. With only 24 hours in a day, you’ll need to think about what you can delegate. Think about both chores and housework, and voluntary and community activities you may be involved in. Consider what you can start cutting back on or passing on, such as volunteering activities, and what other support you might be able to bring in. Get practiced at saying ‘no’ to free up your day.

This is a great time to get any other members of your household more engaged in domestic life and sharing the load! For mothers, start to delegate more to your children and encourage their independence. If you’re the default taxi driver, still ferrying your older children around, let them get used to public transport. Same with your partner, if you have one – start to hand over and share out more of the home responsibilities.

Think carefully about how work can fit with your life. Map out a balanced work week for you. When do you want/need to be at home & what for? And critically, work out what you are not going to do any more at home. You’ll need to be flexible about how this might pan out once you get into job discussions, but being clearer on your non-negotiables will help you to target the right opportunities.

Mental preparation

One of the things we often see with returners is that their professional confidence takes a hit whilst they’re on a career break. The professional preparation will help to boost your confidence, as you reconnect with the professional you and get clear on the strengths and experience you’d like to bring to your new role. Remember, your skills are still there despite your break, even if your knowledge might be a little rusty.

Spending time with supporters and those championing your return will increase your energy and enthusiasm for getting back to work and will help you to overcome any self-doubt or imposter syndrome! Sharing your excitement about returning to work with family members will get them involved in your journey and rooting for you as well as accepting of the inevitable changes that will come once you start work.

Seeing other people in similar situations succeed can also be a real motivator. Listen to our Career Returners podcast to hear the return to work stories of 9 inspirational women, and read our library of returner success stories on our website – if they can do it there’s no reason why you can’t! You can also read their advice for future returners to give you more tips.

And finally, don’t forget to take time for self-care. This is easy to forget in a busy life, but as important now in navigating the ups and downs of this return to work journey, as it will be when you start work.

 

 

Return to work planning for your financial wellbeing

Our guest blogger, Ian Simons from the Chartered Insurance Institute, highlights some financial aspects to consider when returning to work.
Planning your return to work is a great opportunity to take stock of your current financial situation and plan for your future. The tips below, taken from the Insuring Women’s FuturesFinancial Wellbeing Guide, show how you can actively engage in your own financial life journey and also raise awareness of the financial Perils and Pitfalls facing women.

Engaging in your own financial life journey

As you return or search for work you should consider the below:
1. When researching potential employers take time to compare financial packages, pensions and perks

2. Research the gender pay gap – reporting legislation requires employers with 250 or more employees to publish statutory calculations annually

3. Understand employers’ opportunities for flexible workers – openly disclosing policies is a good sign

4. Find out from potential employers what are the career prospects for returners and those with family commitments and are there carer policies?

5. When you start a new job, check out your employer’s pension arrangements, free employer contributions and tax deductions, and fully consider joining the pension scheme. If there are options on how much to contribute, you might be surprised how much bigger your pension pot could be if you paid in at a higher rate, together with the added ‘free employer and tax relief money’

6. If you want to work part-time, in multiple jobs or temporarily, think carefully about how you can maximise your workplace pensions (including any existing policies you may have) and any eligibility criteria
that might preclude you. Reflect on whether you might be inadvertently missing out on valuable contributions

We encourage you to read the full Financial Wellbeing Guide, in particular the re-entering the workforce section, to review your personal situation in more detail.

Arming yourself with knowledge

Once you have assessed your specific situation there are many places you can go for more information including:

  • Insuring Women’s Futures website: The resource page contains research, videos and links to useful websites and tools
  • ACAS website: You can find out more here on equal pay and gender pay gap reporting
  • Your employer: Once you are back at work, many workplaces run sessions for returners or have helplines
  • Your existing pension provider: Find out the position of your existing pension schemes and understand your options for reinvestment and transferral
  • An independent financial adviser: If you need further financial advice, you can search for a qualified, local financial adviser on Findanadviser

Empowering others

This November, Insuring Women’s Futures are running a campaign called Talk 2 10K. They are challenging as many people as possible to talk to at least 10 other people about women’s financial wellbeing. To get involved all you need to do is:

  • Read the toolkit and watch the webinar
  • Organise your conversations (these can be anything from a chat with a friend to a formal session with colleagues)
  • Spend a few minutes on 21 November sharing an anecdote, photo or video from your conversations on social media – make sure to use the following in your posts – #MakeEachMomentCount #InsuringFutures #WomensFinancialWellbeing and @CII


Ian Simons is Marketing Director at the Chartered Insurance Institute. 

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How to write your New Year return-to-work action plan

Is Returning to Work one of your New Year Resolutions? 

How do you make sure you don’t let this fall by the wayside like New Year resolutions tend to do? Shift your thinking to make Returning to Work a goal, with a clear, specific and motivating personal action plan. Here are some of our suggestions on actions to include.
Action Steps to Get Back to Work

1. Clarify what you want from work 

Start by considering what your motivations are for returning to work. Do you need, or want, to earn your own money? Are you looking for the status a professional job brings? Do you want to be a role model for your children? Returning to work after a career break is a great opportunity to think about what you really want to do, so consider what kind of working life and job you would find most fulfilling and enjoyable. Think about what you most enjoyed about past roles and whether or not you need flexibility. You may prefer a corporate employed role, to work as a freelancer or to set up your own business.
Identifying your strengths can help you decide which career direction to take. And read our tips if you feel you have too many return-to-work options or too few. Don’t over-analyse at this stage – the ‘what shall I do with my life?’ career questions can rarely be solved just by brain-power. Move to action using a Test and Learn approach.

2. Fill the gaps in your work experience/skillset

Once you’re clearer on the broad direction you want to take, it’s time to identify any gaps in your experience and any new skills you will need. Get up to date with your old industry, or learn about a new one, by taking professional courses through industry associations, attending conferences, seminars or webinars, signing up to relevant newsletters and meeting up with ex-colleagues. Find courses locally through Floodlight and look at the free online MOOCs (Massive Online Courses). If you’re worried about your IT skills being out of date, take a course before you get back to work. Strategic volunteering can build your skills and experience and may even provide a route back to work.

3. Craft your return-to-work story

Talking about your career break and how it fits into your professional story can be tricky. Use our ‘Career Break Sandwich’ method so that you don’t fall into the trap of focusing solely on your career break (and neglecting your professional background) in response to the classic questions “what do you do?” or “tell me about your background?”.

4. Rebuild your work confidence

A loss of professional confidence can be a key factor in preventing you from making a successful return to work. Don’t let this hamper you – read our blogs on Re-establishing Your Confidence and addressing the Confidence Gap.

5. Re-write your CV and develop your LinkedIn profile

If you’ve been out of the workplace for any length of time it’s likely to be many years since you last wrote your CV. We have lots of CV information in the Advice Hub section of our website including How to Write Your Post-Break CV and the use of Action Words. A strong LinkedIn profile is also important – read our blog on how to make the most of your profile.

6. Select potential routes back to work

There are many routes back to work such as returnshipsnetworking and creative crafting of a role. Consider which ones would work best for you.
7. Prepare for interviews
Facing your first interview for many years can be daunting, and we have lots of advice on our website to help you prepare. Six Essential Steps for Successful Interviewing is a good place to start. We have advice on how to prepare for competency-based interviews, informational interviews and telephone interviews. You can also read how to respond if an interviewer tells you you’re overqualified for the role and what to wear to interviews.

8. Maintain your motivation

Our motivation to achieve our goals inevitably fades after a while. Learn from psychology research about how to stay motivated longer-term.

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