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M’s Story: Returning to Software Development

Career Returners 400 x 400

I had a long break – I had my twins in 1999, and went back to work part-time (3 days a week) when they were about two years old. I managed 9 months working on 3 different contracts (I was an IT contractor) but then wasn’t able to find any other part-time work, and the au pair who was looking after my twins decided to leave. It was very difficult finding someone else who I trusted with my kids: besides I was enjoying being with them so much that time just went by…

In 2007, I wrote a couple of one-off IT courses for my husband’s consultancy but that was all I had to with the IT world until now. I taught basic IT skills in a pre-prep school for a year (ages 4-7) where I had to write and prepare all the lessons, I ran a very unprofitable business creating photobooks for people for just over a year as well, but really nothing suited me as well as a job in IT and I gave them up.

When I started looking for a job, I realised that I couldn’t consult again, so I looked for a permanent job. The only way I have ever found a job has been through a recruitment consultant. Maybe that’s just the way it works in IT? If you look on Jobserve, the IT jobs are all advertised there and each one is put up by a recruitment agency.

When I was sitting waiting nervously at a Prêt having a coffee before the job interview, wondering why on earth I was putting myself through this, I remembered the Women Returners blog about your radio interview and the return to work comfort zones and realised I wasn’t actually in the zone that was too much for me and although I was anxious, I wasn’t applying for a job that was beyond my capabilities.  I just hadn’t done it for a very long time!

I had to go through a three stage interview process and was totally honest with my new boss and told her how rusty I was. My second interview was a technical one in which I performed dismally and was convinced I would never hear from them again. However the recruitment agent said that they liked me anyway and put me forward to the next interview with the head of the department which went very well (perhaps because we are of a similar age!)

I also have to thank the recruitment consultant who sent my CV in for the job when two others rejected it for the same job.  Perhaps it had something to do with gender? She was female whereas the other two were male.  I was also interviewed and hired by a woman…

The best advice I have is to just go for it. Be determined if you have made up your mind that you definitely want to go back to work.  Even after I received the standard rejection emails from the recruitment agents, I still phoned them to ‘check whether they had received my email’ and tried to show some personality, drive and ambition in a two minute phone call! Nice and old-fashioned but it worked and the agent who sent me for the job interview had initially rejected my CV telling me that there were ‘other people more qualified for the role’.

So now I am a full-time PeopleSoft software developer again after an extremely long career break!

Since I have started work, my new boss has been great and very understanding about me having to play catch up and is starting me off gently with some support issues to resolve without any specific deadlines. Hopefully she sees me as a long term investment! From next week, I am also able to join the rest of the team in working from home one day a week which was an unexpected bonus.