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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.