Posted on

Aviva : A return to work special…

Hi, my name is Gemma and I recently returned back to work from maternity leave.

My partner and I decided to take advantage of the shared maternity/ paternity scheme that Aviva offered last year. I took the first 6 months off, whilst then my husband took the following 4 months off on paternity leave to be with our daughter.

It was a great opportunity as we both got the chance to spend quality time with her as we knew we would never get this time back!

When I came back to work I mentioned that I wanted some flexibility with the hours I worked, as I wanted to spend at least one day every fortnight being actively present in the development of my daughter.

Aviva were very supportive of this request and with the support of my team and manager we made this happen.

I consider that having my husband off whilst I came back to work, took a considerable amount of worry and stress away from me, as I was able to fully focus on my job and get used to work life again.

Since the announcement last November from Aviva on the increase of time for the shared maternity/ paternity policy agreement, it has made me think how else could Aviva support staff in the transition back to work, as we should be able to offer so much more than just an amended policy.

I have since started a working group with the coaching and people function to try and set up a maternity/ paternity transition coaching service for staff going off and coming back to the workplace. Offering support and guidance back into the world of work.

This not allows us to support our people from a policy perspective but from a human/ family perspective too. The aim of the coaching program is to help employees handle the practical and emotional aspects of a parent transition, regardless if this is your first, second or third child in a way it also enables the parent to develop in their careers post maternity or paternity.

You can find out more about our roles and benefits by clicking HERE

Posted on

How to ace that interview before you’ve even started…

Congratulations! You’ve been applying for some of the brilliant flexible roles on MummyJobs.co.uk and you’ve bagged an interview for your dream job.
Now you’ve got your foot in the door, it’s time to really sell yourself – and, as Benjamin Franklin said, by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail, so make sure you do your homework.

Research the company
It sounds obvious, but interviewers will expect you to know the company, and we don’t just mean the name and address. How many people does it employ? What exactly does the firm do? What are its current projects and past highlights?
Remember, don’t just look at its website – stalk its social media channels too. This can give you a vital insight into how the firm sees itself – and how it engages with its audience. Is it playful? Quirky? Corporate? Does it interact with its audience or retain a sense of distance? Once you know this, you can adjust your interview technique accordingly.

Read the job description
We assume you gave it more than a cursory glance when you sent in your application, but now you need to get to grips with every single aspect. Why? So you can come up with examples of how to demonstrate you are the candidate the interviewer is looking for.
Feel you don’t have all the skills required? Think outside the box – what life experience do you have that could help? Are you willing to undertake extra training? Whatever you do, don’t focus on the negative – it will only encourage the interviewer to do the same.

Plan your journey
Make sure you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. While being late for an interview is not the end of the world, it’s less than ideal and will create a pretty poor first impression.
Research your route, and how long it will take – consider a test run the day before, and make sure you have a back-up plan.
If the worst comes to the worst and you are running late, don’t panic! Ring the firm, explain the situation and give them an ETA.

Prepare your outfit
Ok, so we’re assuming you know the basics – no flipflops or swimwear, no visible underwear and no ‘comedy’ T-shirts – but in the modern world, it’s not all about power dressing.
If you’ve done your research (see point one) you may have come across staff profiles – try to emulate the style other people have gone for. You want to give the subliminal message that you will fit in, in more ways than one.
A good start is to keep it simple and make sure you’re comfortable – you don’t want to be jangling with jewellery every time you move or panting as your new shirt is restricting your airflow.

First impressions
There’s some doubt over who said, ‘You only get one chance to make a first impression’, but there’s no doubt that they were right.
And it was probably your mum who said, ‘Manners don’t cost anything’, and guess what? She was right too.
A positive, polite demeanour will take you a long way, but don’t save the charm for your interview. Be courteous to the people on reception and any other members of staff – the interviewer may be in charge today, but these are the people you’ll work with if you’re successful. You don’t know the structure of the company, or who talks to who, so be on your best behaviour with a smile on your face from the moment you walk through the door.

The big day
If you’ve followed all these tips, you’re in the right place, at the right time and wearing the right outfit.
All you need to do now is run a brush through your hair, check your teeth for spinach and smile – you’ve got this!

Posted on

A Tale Of Two…

Part time working professional

Once upon a time, I was a full time working professional. As company accountant, I loved my job. I loved the business I worked for. My job really did define who I was. Whenever I met new people, conversation would always have the same starting point. “What’s your name?” and “what do you do for a living?” were always the openers.

Then my life changed about a bit. I had dependants – young and old. I was needed, me personally. This couldn’t be delegated or outsourced to anyone else. Perhaps it wasn’t that it couldn’t be, perhaps it was more that it wouldn’t be. Either way, I could no longer do it all.
And so I became a part time working professional.

Then began the search, the CV updating, the networking, the marketing of myself. It soon became very clear that there are really not many part time, senior, challenging, exciting jobs. In the finance world, I could easily find part time work in very junior positions. I would not be using my years of experience and skills, I would not be stretched, I would likely be very bored.

So why was it so hard? Shouldn’t I by treated the same as a full time worker? Shouldn’t I be judged on my CV, my skills and experience regardless? Shouldn’t I be treated in the manner with which I had been treated previously, I was after all the same person?

I could answer these questions myself quite easily – the answer was a resounding NO.

I’m not the same person. It’s that simple. I used to be able to put in 60 hour weeks quite easily. I used to be the dependable one that would always be there in a crisis. I’d always be the one to work early mornings and late nights when it was needed. I cannot do that now.
So in some ways, I’m not as good as I once was. That’s the harsh reality.

But in so many other ways – I am better.

I manage my time better. I might not be in the office full time, but trust me, I have a LOT on my to do list. Some of it work related, some of it not. But nonetheless, I get a lot done in my week. Being in the office part time puts an extra focus on getting things done. More gets done ‘today’ because I can’t guarantee having the time to dedicate to it tomorrow. I am better than I once was.

I can multi task better than I ever thought possible. Juggling a job and a family is pretty commonplace. There are many people out there who do it. But it will never appear on a CV as a skill. I can switch so quickly to the most urgent crisis (whether it’s a financing proposal or a desperate need to provide something for the school cake sale!) and I’ll switch back the second I can. I am better than I once was.

I’m a much more compassionate person these days, caring for a family does that to you! I have more empathy for others than I once had. I don’t think I realised how useful a skill this would be in the workplace. I am better than I once was.

I always said that I loved my job – I always believed that. But now that I do other stuff in between, I really love my job. Those few days of absence makes it all the better to get back to. That extra bit of happiness makes me extra productive. I am better than I once was.

I’m lucky to have the job I have. As I ‘ve said, those exciting, challenging, skills enhancing jobs are few and far between in the part time arena.

I know I’m incredibly fortunate, I know I work for an amazing business with an amazing team of people. I’m grateful and that gives me the motivation to go the extra mile. I am better than I once was.

So in some ways, I’m not what an employer wants – I’m not there 5 days a week. But I’m available 5 days a week (or 6 or 7). Today’s technology makes it even easier to be away from the office. Telephone calls and emails still happen on non-working days as sometimes, you just want to resolve something. Being part time doesn’t have to stop that.

I’m still a professional, I still work hard, I still develop my skills and learn new ones. I still love my job and care about the business I work for. I’m still flexible, I switch my working days here and there, I accommodate meetings to ease others’ diaries. I just cannot be flexible enough to give all my time.

I accept that some businesses will only want employees who are in the office every day – always there, on call for any emergency. But I hope there are still plenty of other businesses who realise that us part time workers can still add value.

Being part time is different. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse – just different.

Sarah Hawthorne ACMA
Financial Controller – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mom to Alice aged 6
Daughter to “Mum and Boss” aged 76
Wife to Simon aged 49 ¾

From the other side of the fence

Wagstaff Recruitment started as a bedroom business. As the owner I drove business through sales and cajoled my husband to do my monthly management accounts on a weekend. Hubby was great, he is an experienced Finance Director, but I became spoilt with his extensive knowledge and skills.

As the company grew, I took on offices and developed a team I knew I needed my own Finance Manager and here lay the problem. Due to hubby’s skill, my expectation of what a Finance Manager could do was unachievable on a part time basis, or so I was told (by external applicants). I wanted someone who could be part of our leadership team. Someone who had great management accounts skills. Someone who was confident to upwardly manage and challenge me. Basically I wanted a high level Finance Manager on a part time basis for an SME and they did not exist. Well they do!!

Then, through a fellow finance recruiter, I was introduced to Sarah! I gained an experienced, skilled professional who has the talent to utilise her skills. Sarah manages her time so well, delegating to our admin support team where needed and delivering a valuable, high quality finance service. I get great finance and management support and it is on a part time basis. The truth is hiring this talent is achievable it just may not be in the convectional way you expect. (I also don’t feel Sarah is part time as she is so flexible and there for me if I really do need her).

I would applaud any business to really consider part-time experienced workers. Finance, Marketing, Engineering, the list can go on! The experience and skill they bring, in my experience, is certainly added value.

Ruth Forster
Founding Director – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mum to Lexi (Our dog! No little people!)

Posted on

Meet Chris: A working Dad at Hastings Direct

My family and I relocated to the south coast four years ago and I was looking for a new career away from retail. I was originally attracted to join Hastings Direct because I knew that insurance was a growing industry and the company had a range of opportunities for colleagues to develop. Since then, I have seen Hastings Direct expand to further offices including a city centre office in Leicester.

In September 2016 I moved from full time to part time shifts to offer my family extra childcare support. I have progressed to a Digital Customer Representative and when I work evenings I’m a coach for new colleagues in Academy. Working part time at Hastings Direct has allowed me and my wife to have our own careers. The flexibility in my work enables me to arrange a shift plan that suits my home life and gives me a great work life balance. It allows my wife and I to share the responsibilities of childcare while bringing money into the household and giving us quality family time at the weekends.

My wife and I both enjoy working and appreciate the time we have to socialise with other adults. I love the variety of work and the diversity of people I work with at Hastings Direct. I enjoy working in our Head Office because the majority of departments are here in Bexhill – it’s very easy to find a colleague from another area of the business to help with a query. Everybody in the company is keen to help and I love that we’re all moving in the same direction.

Hastings Direct has been very supportive since day one, particularly my Team Leader who is invested and knows my motivations inside and outside of the company. Hastings Direct cares about its colleagues and takes notice in what is happening in our lives.

If you like what you have heard and would be interested in finding our more, please visit Hastings Direct Careers.

Posted on

Mums in Tech! Making it work for you…

Woman flexing arm. Flexible Careers

Research released in December 2017 found that the number of women working in technology has barely increased in a decade.

Search Consultancy found that the percentage of female tech workers increased by a paltry 1.8 per cent since 2007 – with just 15.4 per cent of the nation’s technology workforce being women.

This news is disappointing on many levels, not least because technology provides some of the very best opportunities for flexible working and working from home – the holy grail for many mums.

Remote working is possible now in so many industries, from engineering to customer service, that work no longer means a nine-to-five day in the office. Additionally, many of the roles created by technology, such as web development or social media marketing, can be done remotely, at least some of the time.

Here at MummyJobs, we’re passionate about tech and the positive impact it can have for mums returning to work.

That’s why we’re loving the work of Digital Mums and Mums In Technology, which both provide training courses in various aspects of IT to give parents that flexibility.

“But I don’t know anything about technology,” we hear you cry. But that’s the thing – jobs in tech aren’t all about computing and coding. How often do you post pictures of your toddler looking adorable on Instagram? Or share the latest teenage meltdown on Facebook for your friends to sympathise with?

Then you’re already using tech – you just need to harness that knowledge.

For example, a social media manager has a lot in common with how you live your life on the net – choosing what content to put out there and when to best fit your brand. Digital Mums offers courses specifically aimed at busy mums, training them for a career in social media that can be done remotely and around childcare commitments.

Seven in ten mums who undertake the course find paid employment within three months of graduation, with the figure rising to nine in ten after a year.

For those more interested in working “behind the scenes”, Mums In Technology teaches basic coding to equip students with the tools they need to build websites and get a taste of everything to do with software engineering.

Courses are hosted by partner organisations, such as Three and the Ministry of Justice, on their sites, and, best of all, affordable childcare is available at all training venues. Once complete, the course can pave the way for further training to create a rewarding and flexible digital career.

Of course, there are already women working in the field – and if you’re one of that 15.4 per cent, you’re in a great position. With recruiters actively trying to address the inequality, there has never been a better time to search for a new job or apply for that promotion.

Many mums will find that the ultimate pay-off is a job that can be done at home and at a time that suits you – allowing you to fit in bedtimes and school runs, as well as dealing with any unexpected events that can throw even the most military of operations into chaos.

The possibilities are endless, and we want mums to take full advantage of the tech revolution, and to be rewarded with a work-life balance that works for everyone.

Visit our new Spotlight on Technology section launching Wednesday 17th January to access our latest courses and roles!

Posted on

Mums Make More of Themselves at Screwfix

Being a mother comes first and there may finally be one employer who understands that. Here, Amy tells us about making real friends, working the hours she wants and actually having a life with her son – who, due to his condition, needs a little extra love.

How does Screwfix fit around your home life?

Perfectly. The contact centre is 24-7, so you can choose hours that suit you. I do 5pm ‘til 9pm, four nights a week, which is really good because of my 16 month-old son. My partner picks him up from Mum’s at half five, so I don’t have to pay for childcare. Obviously I’m not doing weekends, which is nice. And they even give you the option to reduce (or increase!) your hours. They’re really good about that and I really feel like they care. My manager is really supportive. My son was born with a condition, so he’s been in and out of hospitals having operations for more than the year of his life. But thanks to this job, I can spend the day bonding with him guilt-free.

Do you enjoy the work?

Definitely. Obviously I take calls, which I really enjoy because you do get to know the customers. You end up having a laugh and helping them at the same time. Everyone who works here makes it a brilliant environment, too. It’s nice to be able to talk to so many different people – older and younger, people with kids and without kids. There’s no set seating plan, so each day I can sit next to my friends or learn about someone new. Plus, you do get a lot of praise here. Each week, we have a score which shows us how well we’ve done. Mine’s been been five out of five for the past few weeks, which I’m really proud of. Sometimes you get left really nice comments from customers as well, which makes you happy to do the job.

“When I first joined, I thought there would be loads of targets, but it’s very relaxed. You’re more genuine to the customers, which keeps them coming back.”

Do you need to know about tools and hardware?

No, they provide all the training. I don’t think it’s about customer service experience, either. I’ve done it as a manager in the past, but there are people who have come here straight out of school. They look at who’s positive, bubbly and friendly. From there, you spend two weeks with your trainer and they go through everything with you. And you decide when you go on the phones. I was on them the first night because I was just eager to learn. They love this because it’s a very rewarding company. They look after their staff and good work is definitely recognised right across the company. They’re determined to help you progress onto bigger and better things, but if you’re content with where you are, that’s fine too.

If you want to learn more about our roles at Screwfix, click HERE

Posted on

Meet Neha: A working Mum at Hastings Direct

MummyJobs Happy Mum

“Whilst on maternity leave following the birth of my first child I was made redundant by my previous employer. As you’d imagine, I was full of worry – I had to find a new job as well as find my way as a new mum. However, my worries were soon put at ease when I found that Hastings Direct were recruiting for a part time Team Leader – this was a great opportunity for me as I was able to use the skills I had developed via my NVQ Level 2 in Team Leading.

When I first joined Hastings Direct as a part time Team Leader the role helped me to achieve a perfect home/work life balance. During the day I spent time with my daughter and during the evening and weekends I was able to challenge myself at work to be the best Team Leader I could be. The best thing about working part time was the huge saving we made on childcare. On average my husband and I saved almost £600 a month because of the part time hours I worked at Hastings Direct, and because of this saving; we were able to have two family holidays a year. It also allowed both my husband and I to have one to one time with our child; which we feel is so important.

Having now completed Hastings Direct’s in-house Team Leader training, I feel I have been supported and further developed my career with the company. Since January 2017 I have progressed to a full time Academy Team Leader.
I now work fixed shifts across afternoons to evenings and weekends which allow me to still have a positive work life balance; enabling me to plan ahead and be flexible with my home life. I feel paying for childcare is similar to giving a salary away so I feel very lucky to not have to call on it and I’m able to save while working full time due to my shift pattern. When I work weekdays I spend every morning with our daughter and my husband is with her every evening. So, we’re still saving on childcare as well as spending our one to one time with our daughter. On the weekends we spend time as a family and when I do work a weekend I have a weekday off which allows me to have time to myself, which is also important!

I feel very fortunate to do a job I love while being able to have a great family life – a real ‘win win’ situation!”

If you like what you have heard and would be interested in finding our more, please visit Hastings Direct Careers.

Posted on

Health(care) and happiness

Women in healthcare

Thinking of getting back into – or retraining in – healthcare? Great idea, because your life as a mummy means you already have a lot of the skills needed – although let’s not try any major medical procedures just yet.

You’re not squeamish – or, if you were, you’re not anymore
Let’s face it, the first year (or 18) of your precious bundle of joy’s life consists largely of dealing with bodily fluids. Whether it’s changing explosive nappies, dealing with bleeding knees or clearing up vomit after “just a shandy mum”, you’ve seen it all – and got the iron stomach to show for it.
And that’s without even mentioning childbirth…
A lot of healthcare work is similar – granted there’s a lot more skill involved (and frequently, a lot more at stake), but once you’ve got over the first hurdle it will be, to coin an appropriate phrase, a piece of piss.

You remain calm under pressure
A tantruming toddler kicking and screaming on the supermarket floor? The electricity has gone just as you wanted to start dinner? Stuck in traffic and nursery closes in ten minutes? No bother. You’re used to taking what life throws at you and dealing with it in a cool, calm and collected manner.
So, what could be better preparation for A&E at midnight on the last Friday before Christmas?

You are super organised
As a mummy, you need to know where everyone and everything is at any given time. Tom’s at football at six, but Emily needs picking up at quarter to? You’ve got it in hand, just call a mummy friend to wait with him until you get there. Jack needs his PE kit five minutes ago, but didn’t tell you it was filthy? That’s fine, you’ve already got a spare set ready to go.
With all these plate-spinning skills, remembering who needs their pills when, or which patients need blood tests, will be a walk in the park.

You have endless patience – and excellent listening skills
Despite being in a desperate hurry to get to the post office before it shuts, you will happily let your toddler splash in every puddle on the way. And later you’ll feign interest while your pre-teen goes through the Fifa statistics for every player in the English Premier League.
This level of patience and altruism will stand you in good stead should you go into healthcare. In fact, being able to listen is one of the key skills you’ll need, whether it’s letting an elderly care home resident tell you their life story, or deciphering the diagnosis from a half-hour long list of symptoms.

You can get on with anyone
You might hate spending time with your teenage daughter’s bitchy friends, or your pre-schooler’s best buddy (you know, the one who bites), but they’d never know from your behaviour. A warm welcome, a beaming smile and a tinkly little laugh as they gouge chunks from your beloved’s arm – that’s you. And this cheerful demeanour will see you right in the healthcare industry where, let’s face it, you’re often seeing people at their worst.

You are used to keeping strange hours
You’re already used to working through the night tending to someone else’s needs, and snatching sleep wherever you can, so working shifts will be no problem. Just think – those late nights waiting for your teen to come home and the 5am starts with an over-energetic three-year-old will come in useful after all!

Always remember to use these skills when getting back into the workplace – everything you’ve learnt from being a mummy can help support your return to work, and help you excel.

Thinking about healthcare as your next career move? Check out our great roles available now.

Posted on

Louise Jones : Dreamscope TV, the 2nd share from our High Profile Returning Women series.

The Classic Work / Life Balance, Juggling Act, Spinning Plates….

I went to back to work when my daughter was seven months old – to some that was too early but I was in the very fortunate position to be going back to a job I loved and missed. Whilst a fabulous and successful company, it is a small company and it didn’t sit right with me to take any longer off work – and no, I don’t feel guilty for prioritising that. Money was of course a factor too. My maternity pay was paid in full for three months and then down to statutory maternity pay every month thereafter – ouch.

Going back to work was the classic ‘going back to work for a rest’ scenario. I absolutely loved my time on maternity leave, it was so precious and memorable but I was ready to use my brain again and to have more diverse conversations! As soon as I went back, I realised how much I enjoyed my own company too – driving in with the radio on, grabbing my morning coffee, having two arms to do everything…!

I don’t work on the doorstep of home – on a normal day, it takes 40 minutes to drive into work but get the traffic wrong and it can be a two hour journey. Add that to the still occasional disturbed night’s sleep that a one year old can bring and it can be a killer. As selfish as it sounds, I dread her catching another cold or teething again – my priority is of course whether she is ok(!) but I can’t lie that I don’t then wonder how much sleep I’ll lose and dread my alarm going off!

I am constantly asked why I do it, why put myself through that when I could maybe find a job closer to my doorstep?

I started out in TV and media but then left it for a while to do something more ‘sensible’ (mortgage companies wouldn’t touch me at the time until I did!) I did so for eight years and had by then worked my way up, travelled all over the world in my role(s), and had a company car. But I was bored. Oh so very bored and it just wasn’t for me. I missed creativity and the art of having ideas and now I’m now back to where I feel I belong, I’m not prepared to throw that away again.

I can honestly say that my job is my passion, my hobby. I love the work and I love the people. I am surrounded by people on the same level and no longer have ‘the itch.’ It is a fantastic, and I appreciate enviable, position to be in, but my God, have I worked hard for it and to be back here.

Life is definitely tougher with a child in the mix too. The nights I get home at 7pm, I have to practically get her straight to bed or ring my husband and ask that he starts her routine as I’m stuck in traffic. I dislike those nights, I have to say, but I do manage to strike a balance, and I hope one day she agrees that I did that.

We also work on a huge, well known TV show which can mean that we are filming into the very early hours, resulting in getting into bed any time between 12am – 5am – these are of course days when I don’t see that little smile at all albeit my husband always sends me a little picture of her all tucked up in her PJs which helps (me at least).
“Work in a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life” and that is SO true. If I didn’t feel this, I’m not sure that I would feel balance was being restored. The guilt does kick in on occasion but then I know we’ll get that time back and I’ll more than make up for it.
I have been able to find the balance thanks to having a boss that understands the value of flexible working.

Monday and Thursday, when I work full days, I am lucky enough to have my mother in law and parents look after her respectively. Tuesday and Wednesday she is in nursery 8am-6pm – my husband takes her and I pick her up, meaning I leave work at 4pm to avoid the traffic. Fridays I don’t work and we have a lovely, quality mummy and daughter day. That day is so important to me.

Thankfully, our director understands that it is results that are important, not time-serving. I wish for so many people that their companies understood this too. It works both ways. I have always wanted to give my all when it comes to my work but it makes you want to do that more so when you are given the respect and freedom too. Equally, I understand that on occasion, I will have to work a longer Tuesday or Wednesday or go in on a Friday but because the respect and the trust is given, I want to repay it, and everyone is happy.

Yes, I’m absolutely shattered, yes I struggle to get out of bed some mornings and yes, some nights I go straight to bed once we’ve put her down. But to me it is all worth it. The balancing act for me isn’t just about keeping my daughter happy but keeping myself happy too – happy mum, happy baby, I say – I do so by making sure that every extra hour I spend working or travelling is put back into her in the evenings, on Fridays and at the weekend – seieng that little smile light up when we’re playing, doing something simple like reading a book or are on the little train at the park is all I need to know that all’s good in our little world.

Had I not have been in such a great flexible position at work, I would indeed be running for the hills. I have been miserable in some of my more ‘sensible’, ‘real’ jobs and that is certainly not something I want to bring home to my daughter. I hope she too can one day find something she loves to do and pursues it.

Life is tough and we all have to get by which ever ways suits. There is no right and wrong. Let’s face it, every person you look at who seems to have it all covered is winging it just like the rest of us! Hats off to each and every ruddy one of us!

Posted on

The fork in the road

Where Future Talent meets Working Parenthood
By Nicki Seignot

If you’re reading this MummyJobs blog then you may be someone who has left their former employer after having had a family, or is perhaps thinking about moving on. I wonder what changed for you when it came to balancing work and family? Has the experience been what you expected? How did your employer support you – or not – during this important transition point? Where are you now in your quest to combine parenting with a fulfilling career?

In my experience many employers have a gap in their approach to supporting talent at this time. Typically, employers will invest in graduate programmes, programmes for high potentials and fast track development programmes. Undoubtedly many of you reading this will have been part of a pipeline of talent for your own organisation at some point. Perhaps you were a graduate or someone on a fast track promotion programme? The surprise is that despite having invested so much prior to this point, many employers fail to extend the investment through the seismic transition that occurs where work meets parenting.

I’ve talked to hundreds of working parents, and find that people rarely – if ever – talk about what great maternity / parental leave policies their employer has. Too often navigating a return to work is left to self-help. For a fortunate few, it is a matter of sheer good luck to have a supportive line manager and achieve a return to work solution that meets their needs and ambitions. And for the many? Those who aren’t lucky risk disappointment, finding their choices compromised, perhaps flat lining, stepping down or resigning altogether. Yet these are talented individuals returning with a brand new set of skills, focused energy and bringing back much needed experience. The losers in this are the individuals and their organisations. It just doesn’t make good business sense to lose good people and all the skills and knowledge that go with them.

So perhaps you are someone looking to start afresh? The opportunity is to reconnect with the professional you, to have confidence that you still have lots to offer a prospective employer. It’s also important to acknowledge the journey you’ve been on, to recognise how much has changed and the value of time away from the workplace to refresh and learn a bunch of new skills.

Here are some ideas and questions to think through as you move forward:

1. Have a vision of your ideal work scenario (Ask yourself – What could that look like? What would you be doing short term / longer term? How much do you want to work – i.e. full time, part time? What do you need to earn? What skills and experience do you bring as a potential employee?)

2. Research the employer (What sort of an organisation is this? What is their track record for supporting and developing diverse talent? What’s possible for longer-term career ambitions? How do they support working families? To what extent might you be able to work flexibly e.g. work from home or condense your hours? What’s expected in terms of working hours / start and finish times? Who can you connect with who might share ‘on the ground’ insights how it is to work there?)

3. Know what you are willing to compromise on (e.g. Being flexible around the days you work, or perhaps the location)

4. Be clear on your non negotiables (e.g. Leave time at the end of the working day to be there for pick up)

5. Think positively about your skills and experience (What have you learned about yourself through this period of transition? Returners can offer different perspectives, they are likely to be more focused, to achieve more in less time and to bring fresh ideas and thinking having been out of the workplace for a while. Perhaps you’ve been involved in community or charity work)

6. Think about what new skills you might need (Boost your confidence by learning something new. You’ll find a host of ideas and online courses as recommended by Mummyjobs. Click here for more details)

7. Plan for contingency (As one working mother said to me ‘Everything works when everything works – but you’re one crisis away from chaos. It’s crucial to have a back up plan for the times you might need it.’)

8. Do a dry run of the morning and evening commute (i.e. So you have a sense of the traffic / peak points en route and know your margin for leave time.)

9. Know you don’t need to make this journey alone. (If you’re about to start work again, seek out or request an internal mentor as part of your induction programme. Someone from within the business, another working parent may be a valuable source of off line support.)

10. Still looking for inspiration and a bit more guidance up front? (MummyJobs can support you with one to one coaching through your search. Click here to find out more.)

Nicki Seignot is the lead consultant and founder of The Parent Mentor and co-author of Mentoring New Parents at Work (Routledge 2017). Nicki works with employers to encourage them to invest in returning talent through better preparation of line managers and connecting working parents with fellow working parents through internal mentoring programmes. You’ll find more information and lots of resources here