This year we’re going to be increasing the level of guidance we provide to women returning to work after a career break.
Whatever the reason for the pause in their working life – maternity leave, long-term childcare, or caring for an older family member – there remains a lack of opportunities for women once they decide to go back to work, despite their experience.
Sadly, businesses still tend to overlook many female returnees who could contribute substantial value; this approach certainly isn’t helping their bottom line. However, if employers and recruiters address this issue, it’s estimated that the UK economy will be bolstered by a staggering £1.7 billion.
According to PwC, almost 250,000 women re-entering professional life are under-valued, being recruited into lower-skilled and lower-paid jobs as more senior jobs fail to offer the flexibility women often require.
To compound this problem, female returners who want a less senior role, so they’re able to focus on care-related responsibilities, are often dismissed as overqualified.
As polkadotfrog is mainly women-led, we’ve had first-hand experience of the kind of challenges women returners face. Not only is going back to work daunting from a confidence point of view, but many women know they need to overcome the hurdles placed in their path by employers.
How do they go about doing this?
Our consultants offer a great deal of advice, but here’s a taster of the kind of steps women can take to re-launch their careers:
- Take on temporary roles
If you want to be re-introduced to the workforce gradually, why not consider applying for temporary jobs? In your time away, it’s possible your priorities and tastes would have changed; working for a variety of employers is an excellent way of getting a feel for what you want from a job, and your preferred workplace culture.
- Sell your transferrable skills
You may need to do the job of opening an employer’s eyes to your suitability to a role. For example, if you’re a former director or manager, but you’d like to work at a lower level moving forward, think about how you can ‘sell’ your senior skills to an employer by making them relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Many employers avoid recruiting highly experienced returnees for fear that they’ll decide to move on quickly to a more challenging role, so reassure them you intend to stay for the long term.
- Reconnect with your network
A simple conversation can lead to a new opportunity, so re-connect with your professional contacts. You don’t need to attend networking events if you think they’d be overwhelming, instead invite someone for a chat over coffee or lunch. This way, both you and your contact will be relaxed, and more open to discussing the options. Don’t forget to ask them to flag up suitable new jobs so you can be among the first to apply.
- Researching suitable employers
When job hunting, find the companies that have a track record in recruiting women returners – at all levels. This can be done by Googling for employers that have earned awards or similar recognition for inclusive working cultures, reading employee reviews on Glassdoor, talking to your professional network, and looking into company HR policies and employee benefits.
- Going back to basics
‘Returnship’ is one of the latest buzz words in recruitment, and involves using an internship as a less stressful step back into your profession following a prolonged absence from work. Returnees receive coaching and guidance, resulting in confidence and skill-building, removing the fear surrounding re-entering an industry that has moved on over the years. A returnship may be an unorthodox approach but it’s an effective one.
If you’re planning your return to work this year, contact our consultants to arrange a friendly face-to-face conversation about your needs and concerns.