Advice from Employers for Returner Candidates

At our annual ‘Back to your Future’ conference in May 2023, Upasna Bhadhal facilitated an insightful Employer Panel on ‘The Value Returners Bring and Top Tips for Success’, chatting to Esme Heaps from Workday, Claire Hodson from J.P. Morgan, Muniba Khan from Edinburgh Napier University and Alexander Trusty from Moody’s Corporation. We’ve selected below some of their comments on why they are targeting returner candidates and how attitudes have evolved towards candidates with career breaks, together with their top tips for returners.

What value do returners bring to your organisation?

  • “We value our programmes because we have seen the positive impact on our organisation … returners have such great skills and experience”
  • “Returners bring fresh ideas and perspective and a rich source of talent. They demonstrate their value through their contribution and now in turn as alumni are recruiting their own returners”
  • “Returners bring cognitive diversity and more value than they realise – the career gap is a CV gift!”
  • “We value diversity of thought and opinion. When businesses bring in experienced returners and get it right it’s a ‘magic combination’. Returners bring huge value and experience – they just need support to brush up their skills.”
  • “Returners enables us to diversity our workforce and enables those with huge talent to get back into the game”

Employer Tips for Success

  • “Own your career gap”. Don’t try and hide it.
  • “Don’t shy away from your career break, celebrate it!” Have a top summary paragraph on your CV with an overview, show what you’ve gained – tell your story!
  • “Do your research”. Look at the job advert to see what skills are required for a role. Then draw on your own experiences and make sure your relevant skills stand out in your application. Be specific about what you bring to the table.
  • “The returners who are curious are the most successful as it takes them further, they learn more and expand their networks.”
  • “Reach out and connect”. Shout loud and proud about your achievements.
  • “Use your support network, ask questions”. Once in the role, don’t get overwhelmed, reach out and seek support, and your skills and confidence will grow.

Advice from Other Returners on How to Successfully Return to Work

At our 2023 Women Returners Conference, we heard from a panel of inspirational returners who shared successful stories of relaunching their careers, after breaks of 4 to 17 years, within the fields of Law, IT, Strategy, Project Management and Professional Services.   

There were so many inspiring stories from our panellists: 

  • Rabiya, a qualified and experienced tech professional, applied unsuccessfully for more than 100 jobs after a 4-year career break due to relocation and ill health. She finally secured a role as a QA Engineer at The Very Group via their first returner programme.   
  • Antona, an experienced Risk Manager who had worked in Professional Services for 16 years, found it impossible to find a job in her old field after a 6-year career break to raise her 2 children. She worked for 2 years in her local petrol station, before getting her career back on track with the Deloitte Ireland Return to Work Programme. 
  • Sal took a 17-year break from her professional career to help run the family chain of Post Offices. With the support of Women Returners’ Career Boost Scotland Programme, she returned to her professional career as a Project Co-ordinator with the Scottish Government in 2023.   
  • Michele, a sales and marketing professional and entrepreneur, took a 5-year career break to raise her young family. She returned to her career via a Home Office Returner Programme in 2017 and is now Deputy Director HR at the Ministry of Defence. 
  • Tamsin, a qualified lawyer, took a 13-year career break from law to raise her two sons.  During her career break, she followed her passion for social justice and worked in the charity sector in a women’s prison and as an advocate for high-risk domestic violence victims.  She also took a sabbatical to travel the world. Once her children were older, Tamsin returned to law with Mills & Reeve.  

 Here’s a summary of some of their top tips for other women professionals wanting to successfully navigate a return to work together with some advice from our coaching team: 

 “Believe in yourself. Keep saying I can do it! You have so many skills
Don’t let a long career break put you off! Value the things that you’ve done in your career break. You might think you’ve done nothing of value to an employer – “I’ve just looked after two small children” – but spend some time reflecting on it. List all the things you have done, and the skills you have used, to demonstrate the different competencies and skills you have developed during your career break and which you can bring to your new role. 

 “For every one thing you might be slower at there are 3 to 4 skills you are better at”
Remind yourself of the skills you have acquired BECAUSE of your career break – networking, multitasking, communicating, and interacting with different types of people.  All of these are transferable skills which you are bringing back into the workplace. 

 “Equip yourself with knowledge and transferable skills
If you’re looking to return to a new area of work after your career break, look into different courses that can help you to upskill. There are many free courses available online that you can sign up to – check out what might appeal here, for example Rabiya enrolled in an AWS cloud software course which had just a nominal fee. Upskilling will not only help you to test whether it’s the right career move for you, but it will also demonstrate your proactivity, enable you to talk confidently about your chosen area at interview, grow your network by meeting others exploring the same area and hopefully boost your professional confidence. 

 Don’t hide your Career Gap
Be open and transparent both about your career break and any caring responsibilities you have.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised about how the corporate environment is less rigid now and different ways of working are more acceptable. Be honest in your interview; organisations are there to support you. 

 “Surround yourself with as much positivity as possible
Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and cheer you on. Reach out to others who are doing the role you’d like to do to test whether it’s a good fit, to ask their advice and to explore potential routes in. Use LinkedIn to connect sending a tailored message to reach out.  Ask questions, there are so many people willing to help. 

 “It is possible!” 
Don’t give up! Even if you apply for jobs and get nothing after requesting feedback. Keep trying. If you persist, the right job will come. It’s very normal to have doubts as you return to work and to feel fearful, but this is very common and will quickly go away once you’re back to work.  

Read the Success Stories on the Women Returners website as a great source of inspiration on days where you feel low. 

These returner stories were incredibly inspiring and a real highlight of the Conference. It’s great to see how building self-belief, reflecting on the skills learned during your career break, looking for successful role models, and tenacity and perseverance have helped others to successfully return to fulfilling work. 

For more inspiring stories of returning women, listen and subscribe to our Career Returners Podcast

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!

The Value Returners Bring and Top Tips for Success – Advice from Employers

An impressive group of programme managers and business leaders met on our Employer Panel at the 2022 Women Returners Back to Your Future Conference. They delivered an optimistic take on how the post-pandemic world has shifted very much in favour of returners, discussing the value returners bring as well as sharing tips on how to succeed at interview and back at work.

Claire Cohen, author and journalist, hosted our panel of Tiziana Casaula, J.P. Morgan; Dane Lloyd Dwyer, Amazon Lockers; Sarah Mavius, FDM Group; Brian Stanislas MBE, Civil Service HR (Cabinet Office); and Alexander Trusty, Moody’s Corporation.  Here’s a summary of what they shared:

Value Returners Bring

  • “Returner programmes are greatly valued as returners show huge commitment, grit, and willingness to contribute”
  • “Returners bring a bias for action and energy.” They’re ready to prove what they can do and eager to climb a steep learning curve
  • “We see lots of ownership from returners, they come with a diverse experience and their break helps them to understand cultural nuances and have more empathy”
  • They have a “drive to add value quickly” – this helps them to learn and be curious and enables them to move fast
  • Once they’ve made the decision to return, “returners are very proactive and want to prove to themselves and their employer that they can do it”
  • “Attracting senior female talent to our returner programmes helps us to reduce the gender pay gap and achieve gender parity in terms of leadership.”
  • “In the current war for talent, these programmes help us to find the right people!”

What employers are looking for?

  • Your previous experience fits the role you’re going for
  • That you “embrace the values and culture of our organisation”
  • “At interview we want to see your commitment and enthusiasm to return to work.” Employers are looking for reassurance that you are able to tackle your work as well as your other responsibilities.
  • They want to hear that you’re “managing all your stakeholders in terms of expectation setting” as you return to work including your family!
  • “Be transparent about what you need – openness and communication at the beginning are so important.” If you need flexibility, be open about it so employers can see how they can meet your needs. When this is done well, returners move fast and climb the curve more quickly than expected
  • “If you’re changing careers, outline your transferable skills e.g. stakeholder management, project management, communication skills, and align them to the role you’re going for”
  • They value your many years of experience, especially those of older employees. “Age is not a barrier to returning to work – your experience raises the whole team and is very valuable for more junior members of the team.”

We were left with a tangible sense of optimism that more and more employers not just welcome returners but are eagerly seeking out the experience, energy, and value that they bring to the workplace.

To hear the experiences and inspiring stories of returning women, listen and subscribe to our Career Returners Podcast, out fortnightly on Wednesdays.

Navigating a Successful Return – Advice from Returners

At our 2022 Women Returners Conference, several inspirational return-to-work stories were highlighted on the Returner Panel, with the theme of Navigating a Successful Return to Work. Ably hosted by radio broadcaster Jane Garvey, four women shared their successful stories of relaunching their careers, after breaks of 4 to 30 years, within the fields of medicine, banking, data science and recruitment.

Jane asked the panel for their top tips for other women professionals wanting to successfully navigate a return to work. Here’s a summary of some of their excellent advice:

  • Don’t let a long career break put you off! Value the things that you’ve done in your career break. You might think you’ve done nothing – “I’ve just looked after three small children” – but spend some time reflecting on it. List all the things you have done, and the skills you have used, to demonstrate the different competencies and skills you have developed during your career break and which you can bring to your new role.
  • If you’re looking to return to a new area of work after your career break, look into different courses that can help you to upskill. There are many free courses available online that you can sign up to – check out what might appeal here. Upskilling will not only help you to test whether it’s the right career move for you, but it will also demonstrate your proactivity, enable you to talk confidently about your chosen area at interview, grow your network by meeting others exploring the same area and hopefully boost your professional confidence.
  • Read the Success Stories on the Women Returners website (http://womenreturners.com/returners/success-stories/) as a great source of inspiration on days where you feel low.
  • Reach out to other people who are doing the role you’d like to do to test whether it’s a good fit, to ask their advice and to explore potential routes in. Use LinkedIn to connect – sending a message rather than just a connection request is more likely to get you a response.
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn so that you can be found by recruiters!
  • Don’t give up! Even if you apply for jobs and get nothing after requesting feedback. Keep trying. If you persist, the right job will come.
  • When you start a role, ask questions, throw yourself into everything, aim to learn as much as you can and to meet a range of people.
  • Believe in yourself! It’s very normal to have doubts as you return to work and to feel fearful, but this is very common and will quickly go away once you’re back to work.

These returner stories were incredibly inspiring and a real highlight of the Conference. It’s great to see how building self-belief, reflecting on the skills learned during your career break, looking for successful role models, and tenacity and perseverance have helped others to successfully return to fulfilling work.

For more inspiring stories of returning women, listen and subscribe to our Career Returners Podcast, out fortnightly on Wednesdays.

How to Succeed as a Returner Candidate – Top Tips from Employers

Four leading Returner Programme Managers, on an Employer Panel at our 2021 Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference, provided a wide range of practical advice on how to succeed as a returner candidate, ably facilitated by Melissa Janvier, a Bank of England returner.

Here’s a summary of top tips from our panel: Helena Fernandes from Credit Suisse, Brett Hemmerling from Moody’s, Tace Heuston from J.P. Morgan and Sarah Mavius from FDM Group.

What stands out in a returner application

  • We want to understand your motivations – what’s driving you to return
  • We’re interested in what you’ve done previously in your professional career – your strengths and skillset
  • It’s important to own your career break – we want to see you’ve had one and the transferable skills you gained during it
  • Clarity on what you’re looking to do next and how that aligns with your professional experience and transferable skills – that helps us to think about what would be a good fit
  • Focus and minimal irrelevant detail
  • If you’re interested in more than one role with us, it’s fine to apply for several, provided the opportunities align with your skillset – don’t just apply for all

At Interview

  • It’s natural to be nervous. It’s ok!
  • We’re aware you’ve not had an interview for a while. Often the interview may be more conversational and viewed as an opportunity to get to know you and understand your skills. We’re not expecting you to know all the up to date terminology.
  • Understand what skills and strengths you bring and be able to articulate them clearly
  • Practice to build confidence. Write a list of the types of questions you might get and prep your answers. Practice saying them out loud in front of a mirror, so that your answers become more fluid and you can check your body language is positive.
  • Think about who can provide a reference – if your career break is 5 years+, get creative. If you’ve been volunteering or working on a small scale during your career break, consider who you could ask there that can attest to your skills and strengths

What do the best returners do that make them stand out on a returner programme?

  • They embrace all the resources and opportunities given to them, and leverage them to ensure they’re making connections and learning about the culture and company – this reflects their motivations and commitment to us
  • They’re proactive and engaged
  • They’re contributors – they want to share their experience and they get involved at many levels
  • They’re team players
  • They ask questions and ask for help when they need it

Final top tips

  • Network and explore as much as possible so you can identify where to focus your energy
  • Have confidence in your skills and experience, gained in your previous roles and on your career break.
  • Be open and positive
  • Believe in yourself!

For more info about our current Returner Opportunities, click here  

 

Navigating your Return – Advice from Successful Returners

There was a huge amount of excellent advice on the Returner Panel on Navigating your Return to Work at our 2021 Women Returners Conference. Chaired by Trish Halpin, Co-host of Postcards from Midlife, the panel included four inspiring women who have successfully returned to work after career breaks of up to 15 years. Two had returned via a returnship, one via a supported hiring role, one via her own networks.

Here’s a summary of some of their fantastic tips, based on their personal experiences, for other women professionals wanting to successfully navigate a return to work:

  1. Look at a returner programme as a journey – it doesn’t need to end where it starts. Just take the first step and then think about it as one step at a time
  2. You don’t need to feel grateful when you get a job. Remember you have skills and experience that your employer wants.
  3. Be open to new areas where you can use transferable skills – your career break can be an opportunity to diversify
  4. Keep a diary of how you feel and the decisions you make at each stage – it’s amazing to read back later
  5. Don’t keep looking back and comparing where you were before, as this can hamper you. Embrace the new opportunity with positivity
  6. Think about what you’re not going to do when you go back to work – ask for help and delegate. Don’t take on everything, you need to make time for work and life!
  7. Don’t let impostor syndrome set in. Everyone gets it at some point, no matter how high up the ladder
  8. Find people to cheer you on
  9. Positively approach new technology and virtual working. It can be daunting but it also can take some of the pressures away
  10. You will get back up to speed much quicker than you think!

For more inspiration from returners who have returned, read our Success Stories here.

Employers’ Advice on Succeeding as a Returner Candidate

On the second Employer Panel at our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’  Virtual Conference last month, Claire Cohen, Women’s Editor and Associate Features Editor of the Telegraph, talked to 5 of our employer partners about How to Succeed as a Returner Candidate. Read on for top tips from Credit Suisse, FDM Group, J.P. Morgan, O2 and St. James’s Place Academy about the key attributes they’re looking for.

What stands out in a returner application

“We want to learn about you as an individual, what makes you interested in returning to work.”

“Getting across who you are as a person. If we’re looking for entrepreneurs, make sure that comes across – give us something to ask you about in the first interview!”

“Use the space provided – not too short so you undersell yourself, and not too long that you ramble on!”

“We’re really interested in your career history – share this and your years of experience.”

“We’re looking for your transferable skills – what can you bring to us?”

“Make sure you can talk about both your previous experience and what you want to do now. A future-focussed attitude is hugely important.”

“If you’re passionate about the role, pull out your great experience, discuss your transferable skills, talk about your career break as a matter of fact and place yourself confidently into that candidate pool.”

What key skills are they looking for

“Highlight your ‘future of work’ skills – communication, stakeholder management, presence, and relationship building.”

“In this year of resiliency; adaptability, flexibility and really good communication skills are ever more important.”

“We can build your skills and train you up; we’re interested overall in your attitude, positivity and how you’ll bring proactiveness to the workplace.”

“Have confidence in yourself and what you bring.”

Thoughts on a career break

“You bring a fresh perspective which is really valued.”

“Don’t be scared of your career break. Remember your past career, what that felt like, what you’re good at, what you bring. Don’t underplay that or undersell yourself. Sell your strengths.”

“Organisations are looking for talent so don’t apologise for your career break.”

“Don’t forget you’re a very capable person and have achieved a lot in your former career and potentially on your career break. You will have honed your transferable skills a great deal – don’t underestimate that as all of that is valuable when you come back to work.”

Advice on returning

“Consider what roles are available in the market and how your skills can be transferred into roles that perhaps you hadn’t thought of. The first opportunity will open doors and help you establish a network and then other opportunities may then open up.”

“Everything comes back very naturally. Don’t be afraid – believe in yourself! Turn down the voice of that inner critic.”

“Ask lots of questions – there are no stupid questions.”

“For returners, confidence tends to starts on a high and then drops after a couple of weeks when you fear you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. This cycle is totally natural. My advice is to ride it out. Returnships are an amazing opportunity and stepping stone and like all opportunities there’s ups and downs. Keep a mindset of positivity – seize the day and be honest about the support you need to make it work”.

“Reach out and network with others because everyone’s feeling the same.”

How to balance any caring responsibilities and work

“Share what your situation is and what your responsibilities are – be open and honest so that your line manager can help you adapt or solve any issues together.”

“Returning to work is tiring – learn how to be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with the right support – some of that’s from partners and people at home, some of that’s from the cohort you’re with and some of that’s from your manager on the programme.”

What the best returners do that makes them shine

“They have inner belief in themselves. They’re clear on why they’re doing this. They’re open and  honest.”

“They’re willing to learn and take on feedback. They ask for help when they need it.”

“They bring a lot of determination and motivation.”

“They demonstrate flexibility.”

 

These comments are a great illustration of the value that leading employers place on returning professionals and the skills and experience you bring to the workplace. For more advice, support and news of job opportunities, sign up to our free Women Returners Professional Network, and check out our wide range of articles on our Advice Hub.

Employers’ Rationale for Hiring Returners

On the first Employer Panel at our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’  Virtual Conference last month, Isabel Berwick, Work & Careers Editor of the Financial Times, talked to 6 of our employer partners about their Rationale for Hiring Returners. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Bank of England, Bloomberg, Civil Service HR, Facebook, and Moody’s, in an uplifting conversation, discussed the key role returners play in their organisations’ talent strategy. If you’re doubting the value that you can bring to an employer, get confidence from their comments on why employers see returners as a strong talent pool:

Why organisations hire returners

“As an organisation we’re really committed to increasing the diversity of our representation. We want our teams to represent the broader range of experiences, backgrounds, identities, abilities. Finding diverse talent can be challenging – returners offer a new pipeline of talent.”

“If you want a truly inclusive strategy and value people from all backgrounds and experiences, returners will offer a unique set of experiences and skills.”

“Returners are a key part of our overall talent strategy. We want employees from all backgrounds with diverse perspectives that can connect to and support our customers.”

“Returners are an important aspect of improving gender diversity and helping us to reduce our gender pay gap.”

Why organisations run returner programmes

“We want to represent the diversity of the community in which we operate. Returner programmes represent a dedicated alternative channel to ensure we’re accessing the full breadth of diverse talent available.”

“The structure of a returner programme is really valuable – joining as a cohort, the inbuilt network, the coaching. It’s an opportunity for returners to try out returning to work.”

“It’s important to have a returner programme so that mechanisms are in place to ensure we’re hiring returners into the business, and that the environment they come into is supportive and inclusive, so that they can thrive in their careers and have access to a support network.”

“The returner programme enables us to ensure returners are provided with the right opportunities in role, and access to networks and training, to help them to bring the skills and experience they have to bear and to be successful.”

“A returner programme offers peer support and structured management support – an induction, line manager support, mentoring, external coaching (from Women Returners) to help returners’ confidence grow in role. All are particularly helpful after a long career break.”

“The returner programme is part of our overall strategy to bring more diversity into our organisation. A programme ensures we’re being deliberate about it and are setting returners up for success.”

The skills returners bring to the workplace

“Returners have broad experience and technical ability and qualifications, plus the talents which have increased with their break. They learn other skills – perseverance, communication, flexibility – during their break. Change is constant, and we need people who can adapt. Technical skills and life skills are key.”

“Every time I came back from maternity leave, I came back stronger, more resilient, more confident. As people come back from career breaks, I see they bring greater skills and perspectives because of their break than before. As corporations, we mustn’t miss out on all the skills and experience that resides within this talent pool”

“We’re interested in the other diverse skills that returners gained on their career break, and how they can bring these into the workplace. It’s a win-win.”

“We look at the totality of a returner’s experience and what you bring, and how it’s a good fit for the roles available.”

Final thoughts

“Diversity & Inclusion is more and more becoming a lens through which we view what we do and the choices we make. An inclusive culture that allows people to perform at their best isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s good for business!”

“Returners are very highly valued for the experience they have”

“It’s really hard to hire good talent – we need you!”

 

In our next blog post, we explore more highlights from our Conference Employer Panels: what employers are looking for in returner applications and the key skills and strengths that will help you succeed on your return to work journey.  For more advice, support and news of job opportunities, sign up to our free Women Returners Professional Network, and check out our wide range of articles on our Advice Hub.

Advice from Successful Returners to Work

Did you miss our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Virtual Conference? For those of you who couldn’t join us, our next few blogs will talk about the takeouts from this fantastic event.

We were delighted to present two Returner Panel sessions this year. The first one was chaired by Jane Garvey from BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and our second one was chaired by Trish Halpin, Co-host of Postcards from Midlife, ex-editor of Marie Claire and award-winning journalist.

Eight women who have successfully returned to work after a multi-year career break spoke about their experiences. Reasons for their career break varied including caring for small children, health reasons, adopting children and running a family business. Five of our panellists had returned to work via a returnship, one via a supported hiring role, one via their own networks and one created their own returnship path with the NHS. Click here to read our returner panellists bios.

Here are some of the highlights from their comments, including the panel’s advice for other women wanting to get back to work.

How they feel about being back at work now:

“I’m absolutely loving it. Bringing back my self-identity as a doctor has positively affected all part of my life, especially my confidence.”

“The role I’m in now is a perfect job for me, I have an absolutely great team and I love what I do.”

“The people around me create such a great team. It’s a positive place to be and I’m doing a job that is valuable to society.”

“Work has become my time and that is what I was missing whilst I was on my career break. I missed the mental challenge and being at work has provided me with mental stimulation, a great support network of other returners and I’m doing it for me.”

On imposter syndrome and lack of confidence:

“My confidence was rock bottom after looking for a job for 6 years and being unsuccessful but attending the Women Returners Event was the best decision I ever made. I had the niggling voice of am I too old? Has my career break been too long? I’m so glad that I forced myself to go along otherwise I wouldn’t be here now.”

“Everyone has it to some extend but it’s important to focus on what you do bring and not what you don’t have. Knowing my strengths and what I was good it (and believing in them) helped me come across more confidently.”

“We focus too much on the gap and we need to stop that. We are the sum total of all the experience we have in and out of work.  That’s the value that employers are looking for and life diversity that we bring to work. Keeping this in mind definitely made me feel more confident.”

On the journey back to work:

“I attended the Women Returners Conference twice, the first time I wasn’t quite ready to return and the second time I really focused on the coaching advice and took away a lot of helpful information that spurred me on. I realised I was procrastinating looking for the perfect life until someone told me not to make my return to work a life project. I applied for a job along with 400 other candidates and I got it.”

“I got some volunteering experience vaguely in the area I wanted to return to. This really helped build my confidence and crystalised what I was looking for in a job.”

“I had received many rejections from recruitment agencies, but my determination forced me to keep going. I then only applied to jobs that I really wanted, that I knew I could do with some stretch and that I was interested in. When I saw my job advertised, I really wanted it and that came through in my application.”

“I did a course in Innovation and found that my brain still functioned, I loved meeting new people, I was engaged and that helped me get my confidence back.”

“I tapped into my network and created a new one at the school gates.  That led to a career coach which then led me to my job. It’s important to use your network when returning to work.”

On their first week back:

“My first day was with my Returners Cohort and it was a great way to establish a network of people and having friendly faces in the office helped me feel more supported.”

“My employer created a 3-month onboarding programme which was really helpful for building my skills and knowledge. I also received coaching from Women Returners for the first 6 months which was invaluable.”

“Technology was my biggest challenge and I was fearful of looking incompetent. However, I quickly picked up the skills I needed.”

“I felt really supported from day one. Meeting other returners made me feel comfortable that I wasn’t alone, we take care of each other and support each other a lot.”

On balancing work and home life:

“You can’t do everything so having a support network around you helps a lot.”

“Being good is good enough, we can’t be perfect. As long as everyone is happy and healthy that is enough for me.”

“Flexibility on my return was key, my employer was supportive of that and I work from home 4 days a week allowing me to the school drop-off and pick-ups.”

For more inspiration from returners who have returned, read our Success Stories here.