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Health(care) and happiness

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.

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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!

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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

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More than hospitable…

Have you ever thought about how your skills as a mummy could mean that you’ll thrive in the hospitality industry?

You’re probably thinking that being a mummy isn’t in any way similar to working in hospitality, but many of the skills you’ve honed while raising your little cherubs actually make you the ultimate hospitality worker.

Here’s just a few reasons why…

You’ve played host to the masses
As a mummy, having guests (and lots of them) is a regular occurrence, and more often than not, they are rather demanding and not that easily pleased. Dealing with (for the most part) well behaved guests in a hotel or at a dinner event will seem a piece of cake when you’ve managed a 13 five year olds high on sugar at a birthday party or negotiated the minefield of a family Christmas!

You know how to cater for some picky customers
“Bring your friends for dinner!” you say, “it’ll be fun!” you say.
Ever regretted the second these words escape your lips? All of a sudden you have a house full of dietary requirements and picky eaters who all want a different dish at the same time, but who all leave happy at the end of the evening. Sound familiar?
Working in the restaurant industry is actually very similar, it’s all about how you manage your diners. You already have the skills there so why not consider a career in hospitality management? Our Hotel Management training course is only one of the e-learning courses we have onsite that could help get you started.

You can turn down a bed in no time
Making beds is second nature to all mummies, and it’ll seem a walk in the park when you’re not combining it with entertaining a rampaging two-year-old or trying to convince your dear darling not to eat any more of his Lego. Imagine how fast you’ll be able to get through a room, when all you have to focus on is stripping the bed and remaking it; you’ll be the speediest maid in the business!

You’re used to dealing with the odd tantrum

We love them, but our little bundles of joy can be pretty challenging at times. But if you can survive the terrible twos and face down a three-year-old who wants to stay up “just a bit longer”, you can handle a bride who wants caviar on a kiev budget or a charity ball that wants free champagne.
Start planning your future as an event manager or wedding planner with our diploma from the New Skills Academy.

You do it all with a smile on your face
Despite all the challenges you face on a daily basis as a mummy, you keep your composure, because the show must go on. This is the best skill you can have, and it’s one that not many people possess. Being able to balance all the competing demands motherhood throws at you, whilst keeping your composure means you’re equipped to take on anything that a job can throw at you, and you’ll do it with a smile.

If you’re looking to get back into work and think hospitality might be for you, remember to put your skills to good use!

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Internships, a viable path to work? Our latest mummy blogger found out the hard way!

I’m a 44-year-old busy mother of three. I have a Masters and a BA degree. I took an 8-year career break to bring up my children. In September 2017 my last child started school and I tried my best to return to employment.

In March 2017 I was called for interview in a graphic design company in Croydon. I was interviewed in a very plush office, with beautiful wooden office furniture and an impressive décor. The person who interviewed me told me that he was offering an internship for a ‘writer’. He agreed that it was “a bit of an insult” to offer me such a role (i assume he said this because of my age and past work experience) however we both agreed that I would learn from the digital marketing experience (so much has changed in the last 8 years!) and that he would profit from my former work experience and maturity. I was expected to work office hours (9am -5pm) Monday to Friday.

My initial impression of the office was good. There were at least 12 Apple macs and the office was wide and comfortable. This ‘appearance’ was later to be subject to ridicule when I observed that the professional looking office that I had been interviewed in on the floor above did not belong to the company I was working for. In addition, I soon noticed that the desks in our office were being advertised as “rentable desk space” on the company social media site!

On commencing my internship I was asked to rewrite the whole of the company website and proofread numerous important emails. A month into the ‘internship’ I began to get concerned that I had no contract. I was working very hard, my husband works abroad so things were particularly strained at home, especially from going from being a full-time mother to a full-time working mother.

After two months I was informed by my boss that my internship position as a ‘writer’ was to be changed to a ‘business developer’. Personal business cards were designed for me with my job title as, ‘Business Development Manager’. I went full steam ahead attending breakfast and evening networking meetings, entirely funded by myself. In one such networking meeting I met a human resource employee who commented how scandalous unpaid internships were! Imagine my situation, I was attending the Chamber of Commerce networking meetings and doing presentations whilst not having a contract, receiving pay slips or paying tax.

After asking my boss directly, at the end of the three months internship, if I was to be taken on eventually; would my role be paid by “commission only?” I was assured verbally that this would not be the case, thus implying I would get a salary.
My boss assured me, “We would love you to stay and grow with us” and proposed that I work another month and that he would pay for my travel and lunch. He said, “As you know it’s all about the sales and money that you are able to bring in for the business. At the end of that month we can sit down again and evaluate the sales you make.”

I was being urged by my friends to leave the company. However I had made business connections and could see potential leads. I decided to complete another month.

It was to my surprise then that my boss was ‘away on business’ for the entirety of this last fourth month and incredibly, at my boss’s request while out of the country, I was asked to create and write the company business plan for which took up considerable time and effort. This diverted me away from the Business Development role.

In spite of this I did manage to get a lead with a prominent company and organised a technical call between my boss( in Dubai) and the lead in the U.K. However, I didn’t feel comfortable to pursue the business development until my boss returned to the office as I didn’t have the technical skills to carry out the work. I feel sure, however, that I initiated contact with a company that will be bringing a continual income to the graphic design business (if the development work is satisfactory for them). I also had several other leads and felt confident that I would get business soon for the graphic design company.
An internship is a period of time during which someone works for a company in order to get experience of a particular type of work. This is certainly what we agreed at interview. That role is not the same as a paid employee who is expected (and motivated) and capable to perform 100% from the start. It appears my boss confused the two, expecting his “interns” to perform as “employees” without paying them.

Sales, in a B2B environment do not happen overnight, it takes time to cultivate relationships with potential clients. People buy from people & businesses they know, like & trust and this takes time.

At the end of my internship I was offered a base salary but ONLY if I were to reach an unrealistic monthly sales target. It seemed a no-brainer. I had already worked for four months for nothing and I wasn’t prepared, at this stage, to accept a commission-only payment structure.
The terms of employment that I was offered after my internship ended, meant that self-employment was not an option, as my boss was determining my hours of work, performance, etc. which means that I would be classified as a “worker”.

It is clear to me that the company I worked for did not have a proper business model to take forward without the use of unpaid workers, for there were three other interns working in the company at the same time as me. They were not even receiving expenses! I left the company asking myself how frequent are these type of unpaid internships being snapped up by honest, hardworking and educated people being led to believe that they may eventually be employed? I also marveled at the fact that my ‘’boss’ succeeded in having four graduates work standard office hours for three months without paying us a penny!

A disgruntled Intern/Mum.

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Destination Retail

We bet that many of you, when you were children, loved playing at shops. We also bet that it’s something your children do and love too.

So why not take the ‘playing’ back into the real world?

We’ve given it some thought and here are our top reasons why a career in retail is a great idea.

Discount
As shopaholics, this is of course the biggest advantage in our eyes! With fashion retailers offering up to 75 per cent discount for uniform purchases and on average 20 per cent staff discount, if nothing else, it’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe.

Although keeping your wardrobe updated is a perk, working in a supermarket, electrical store or even a furniture retailer can all help make a dent in those large family expenses, from the weekly shop to a new oven or sofa.

Variety is the spice of life
The world of retail is varied and exciting. From large, multi-national retailers to bijou independent boutiques, there’s something for everyone – so don’t be scared!

If you’re looking for opportunities that mean progression, the larger stores are for you. Want to feel part of a family? Why not look for positions within smaller chains or independent shops?

The skills that you develop through working in a big store can help if you fancy a change to a smaller one, so add a bit of variety to find where you fit best.

It’s not all about selling!
We all know, the ultimate aim of a shop is to sell. But they do a lot more than just that!

While sales roles are notorious for their targets and the particular set of personal characteristics needed, they need supporting. Positions such as cashiers, back office staff and customer service team members – plus many more – all work hard to keep the retail machine turning.

It’s not always about the customers
While the customer may always be right, the roles that involve them might not always be right for you.

Shelf stacking, delivery and warehouse management and maintenance roles are all retail based but very rarely involve interaction with customers – something to consider if you’re of a slightly shyer disposition!

Retail offers everything you could need; progression, stability, friendship, responsibility and variety. Not only for those starting out at 16, this is an industry for every age and gender to really flourish.

Find our latest RETAIL roles HERE.

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Temporary work, permanent Wonderwoman

Routines are hard to break. Sometimes, we just need a little help getting back to the reality of work after a break to have our little angels, but it can be a horrifying prospect.

With Christmas just around the corner (sorry, we went there), there are ample temporary positions out there that could help you get back in the swing of working life. Here’s how…

Habit forming
Being away from the workplace can mean your routine has gone completely. Not getting up at the same time, staying up late, skipping meals – even eating too often! This can all make it difficult to get back into the swing of things.
By having an employer relying on your punctuality, dedication and hard work, there is an incentive to get back to a schedule without too much of a shock to the system.

Trying to push yourself straight into a full-time job may over-exert your potential, remember to look after yourself, too!

Skill developing
If you’ve been away from work for a number of years, we hate to tell you this but technology has moved on. With add-ons, social media and even CRM systems changing seemingly overnight, what you once knew could be obsolete.
But worry not! A temporary position – whether in an office, shop or café – requires your use of technology throughout the day which will see you brushing up on your IT skills in no time.

Adult talking
Mummies, we all know what happens when we don’t interact with other adults (away from our children) regularly. Not only do we adopt a permanent baby voice, the thought of being around adults without the comfort-blanket topic of our offspring can be incredibly daunting.
If you’re thinking of going back to work, this can be a major cause of anxiety, but don’t run before you can walk.
Taking part-time, temporary work can help you reintegrate into a workforce. Maybe the talk won’t be about projections or spreadsheets, but being around a team with common goals can help you reidentify yourself; the non-child version. Plus, it gives you a new set of friends to hit the town with…IF you can get a babysitter!

Smiling service
Imagine a world with people asking things of your without screaming bloody murder when it’s not available or hanging on to your trouser leg until you give in. It exists!
A temporary role within retail gives you the opportunity to brush up on your service with a smile. Although it might not always be easy (we’re thinking 5:30am at the Next sale!), it will force you to deal with situations that you find you can solve with a smile and those negotiation skills you’ve been working on since your children could feed themselves.

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Jane Nicholson : The Home Office, the 1st share from our High Profile Returning Women series.

Budget day fell on International Women’s Day this year. And the Government used the opportunity to announce £5m to support people wanting to return to work after long breaks, especially to women who often “find the route back into employment closed off – the doors shut to them”. Let me tell you my story and how my journey helped me play a part in this decision.

So who takes a career break when they are the main wage earner? Who takes a career break when their children are 10 and 14? And who would take a career break when they have no easy return to work route? Well I did! I probably sound like I some reckless fool but for me at that point in time it was the right thing to do.

I had spent my life working up the career ladder in demanding international HR roles, commuting across Europe. Then my father died. And I looked at my two beautiful children and knew if I didn’t take some time now with them, it would be too late. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my career but I loved my family too and I wanted to balance the scales in their favour for a while.

So I did it! I spent 18 months doing what other parents do: school runs, chasing lost uniform, watching rounders’ matches and taking far too much interest in their school results. I joined the school PA, a book club, finally used the gym and had endless coffees with friends. And I loved it!

Then 12 months later, feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, I decided to come back to work. Having enjoyed looking for new jobs before, I was faced with a real shock. Suddenly, by not following a traditional career path I felt I wasn’t treated seriously any more. Why did I have a break on my cv? Could I not get another job? Could I not hack life in a senior role? Jobs I knew I could do easily I wasn’t even shortlisted for. I lost track of the number of excuses I heard. “We need someone with more recent experience” was always a good one.

Eventually, through hard work and perseverance, I did get three job offers – interestingly all from female leaders. So thank you to those enlightened women who trusted me enough to offer me a job! I could only take one offer and chose the Home Office because the scale and challenge of a role in Government was so different to anything I had done before.

One of the highlights of my role at the Home Office role has been the responsibility for Talent Attraction and Career Programmes. This gave me the opportunity to do something for people wanting to return to work – for those people facing the same experiences as I had. So one of my achievements has been setting up our Returners’ Programme. This was the first programme in Government aimed at anyone wanting to return to work after a career break.

The Home Office now offers 6 months flexible project work in selected departments. And guess what? We have found the quality of applicants for this programme has far exceeded other recruitment methods. All that talent, waiting to be appreciated!

So what has this to do with Budget Day announcements?

Well, following the launch of our Home Office programme, I was excited to be invited to join a small working party looking at how we could support Returners’ Programmes across the Government. I remember sitting in 10 Downing Street thinking it was incredible that a few years ago my experience was discarded. Yet I was, able to use this experience to positively influence the cross-government agenda.

So my advice to those wanting to return to work, is not to give up. Look for these Programmes, which give you a way back into your careers. To employers, I ask that you take a career returner seriously next time their cvs come across your desk. Embrace their different life choices, otherwise, you could be missing out on some hidden talent.

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Call of fate

Ever think about the similarities between being a mummy and working in sales or customer service sectors?

You’re probably wondering how being a mummy is in any way close to working in a call centre but, while you may not realise it, many of the skills you’ve honed whilst mothering your little bundles of joy can be applied to dealing with customers in contact centres.

Any of these sound familiar?

You’re already used to being called all the time
There is a high level of demand associated with being a parent, so you won’t find it difficult adjusting to the constantly ringing phone. At least in a contact centre you know the person calling won’t have tried to shove a jam sandwich in the DVD player or be in the middle of changing their own nappy.

Managing often difficult situations quickly and effectively is a vital skill that is very useful in the busy and bustling contact centre industry.

You’ll get to speak to actual grown ups
As mummies, it’s easy for us to feel we’re losing our communication skills, especially when most conversations are with those under 5 years old, or are endless circles of “Why?”.

Call centres give the opportunity to have adult conversations about a product or service you know well and feel passionately about, maintaining and developing those communication skills you felt were lost forever.

You’re used to dealing with difficult customers
While we all adore our children, there’s no denying that they aren’t always the easiest to deal with, think teeth brushing, breakfast eating, leaving the park. As a mummy you’re the master of dealing with difficult customers, so use those skills with callers!

You’re a negotiating master
Every day brings a new set of people for you to win over. GPs, teachers, people in the supermarket, hairdressers; not to mention the children themselves!

Whether in sales or customer service, the ability to bring people round to your way of thinking, especially over the phone, is vital as you’re purely relying on your voice. You might find getting people on your side of the fence is much easier when you tap into the skills you’ve gained after getting your child into bed after the fifth toilet visit.

If you’re looking for a route back into work, especially in sales or customer service, contact centres are a great place to start.

Not only do they offer great rates of pay and fantastic career progression, the shift patterns offered give the opportunity for flexible working and the ability to manage work around your family life – not the other way around.

If you’re thinking of heading back into work and think this would be a good way to do it, have a look at our new Spotlight on Contact Centres section for more information!

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How to approach writing a CV when you’ve had a career break

So you’ve taken a career break to be a full-time parent, but your child has grown up all too quickly and it’s time to return to work. The trouble is, the last role you held was years ago – how on earth can you frame the gap on your CV so that it looks appealing to recruiters?

Well, your approach depends on a lot of variables, including how long you’ve been away from the workplace, the type of role you’re applying for and what else you’ve done while you’ve been away.

Decide what you’re aiming for
Firstly, you need to have a clear idea of the job you want – that way, you can tailor your CV to demonstrate the skills relevant to that role. There’s no benefit in coming across as a Jack of all trades but master of none. Armed with your list of skills, think about when you last used them and what the outcome was.

Don’t waffle about your parenting skills
Obviously the more recently you’ve used the skills, the more weight they hold – but this is where your timeline is critical. If you want to show excellent negotiation skills on your CV, a recruiter probably doesn’t want to know about how you persuaded your toddler to use the blue bowl rather than the red bowl last week. A CV entirely focused on your successes in raising your child, lovely though she undoubtedly is, is unlikely to appeal.

Write a chronological CV
If you decide that skills you gained since leaving the office aren’t relevant to your new career direction, that’s fine! Simply write a chronological CV as usual, but instead of detailing your current job, state that you’ve been on a career break and give the dates. This approach is probably best suited to short or mid-length gaps. There’s no shame in being a parent, so you can even state the reason for the gap, to save the recruiter from jumping to incorrect conclusions about unemployment, redundancy, prison…

Identify new skills
Depending on your target role, you may find it beneficial to highlight skills or qualifications gained whilst away from the workplace – maybe you influenced change at school by representing the PTA, maybe you developed leadership skills whilst running a playgroup or maybe you planned events for a community organisation. Think carefully about all the little things you’ve done in between the parenting – you may be surprised at what you’ve achieved. If you’ve acquired or developed any such skills whilst on a career break, by all means illustrate them on your CV alongside some positive outcomes.

For example:

Career break to raise a family April 2016 – date
• Planned, organised and managed a successful community event to raise funds for victims of an earthquake, generating £10,000
• Led a local playgroup, doubling membership by arranging visits from photographers, crafters and musicians

Write a skills-based CV
Many roles, however would benefit from a more professionally-focused CV. For longer career breaks, a skills-based CV could be more appropriate. To create a skills-based CV, identify the skills you wish to highlight and give bulleted examples of how you’ve previously used each of them – preferably with quantifiable results against each one. This eliminates the need for including dates which could make your skills look outdated. You will still need to give a chronological summary of your career, but this can be as simple as Job Title / Employer Name / Dates on the second page.

For example:

Operations management
• Wrote operating procedures and drove compliance, resulting in a 50% increase in productivity
• Developed and implemented operations strategies which reduced costs by £100,000

Leadership
• Managed teams of up to 100 staff, motivating them to improve performance and achieve KPIs
• Turned around an underperforming team by providing training and listening to staff concerns

Be selective with dates
If your career break has been relatively short, remember that you’re likely to have left the office but still been technically employed for several months after the baby arrived. It’s absolutely fine to put the date that your employment officially terminated on your CV, rather than the date you actually left. Giving only the years you started and finished each role, rather than the month, is another easy way of covering short periods away from paid employment. Using these techniques means you can often avoid or minimise a career gap.

Include personal and professional development
If you’ve found the time to develop yourself during your career break, so much the better. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that only paid work is valid; there are other ways to show a recruiter your value. You might be able to add information about courses you’ve undertaken, voluntary work you’ve participated in, even interests relating to your desired career path. If you’re keen to work in IT, for example, add an Interests section and say that you enjoy fixing faults on friends’ computers. Add a Professional Development section and mention the online course you did while the baby was sleeping. Add a Voluntary Work section to highlight that you helped at the after-school computer club.

In summary
Remember, a career break is now a perfectly normal part of many careers. If you have a valid reason for being away from paid work – and full-time parenting is certainly a valid reason – employers won’t necessarily see this as a negative. What is more important is proving that you have the skills and experience to successfully perform the role they need to fill.

You may feel like you’ve been out of the workplace for ever, but just by thinking about exactly what you’ve achieved in your life and incorporating this into a CV you’re likely to give yourself the confidence boost necessary to get your job hunt off to a flying start.

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