Even if you’re a highly-trained, experienced professional, going back to work after time away to look after your children, can be tough.
Companies and recruiters might assume you’re out of touch, not up-to-date with the latest technology and you won’t hit the ground running. It’s normal to feel a loss of confidence and professional identity after a career break.
So, how do you make sure that you re-enter the workplace with a strong first impression, oozing confidenceand leadership?
Having spoken to many of my clients over the years, I can see a pattern of problems. Here are my top five tips to make your return a success:
Upgrade and update your skillset by applying to a Returnship Programme
A paid, short-term internship that has been specifically developed for women who want to get back to work after an extended career break. You will receive relevant mentoring and training to brush up your skills. Practice and learning can be a great way to boost confidence in your abilities. The Reignite academy founded by Lisa Unwin is an ideal place to start for lawyers who plan to return to work and many companies such as EY and Allianz are offering their own returnship programmes.
Think about the soft skills you developed during your career break that younger colleagues might not possess
If you have taken time out to look after your children, you’re probably now a master in time-management and negotiation. For those who have been traveling, you gained insights into how other people live, work and communicate, which could be invaluable for organisations who are trying to appeal to new demographics.
Upgrade your work style. First impressions count!
What you wear has as much an effect on others as on yourself. Smart clothes that fit well, will lift you up. So, don’t try to save money by wearing the same clothes that you last wore in the office. Anything older than 3 years, looks dated. Our bodies change and fashions evolves. Do yourself justice and dress the part. Top tip: Take the first step by decluttering anything that no longer serves you.
Understand your industry’s new dress code
Since the pandemic, dress codes have changed and become more casual. Many companies that used to enforce a formal business wardrobe have become more flexible and open-minded, encouraging employees to dress smart with a casual note. Find what style you can use to fit in with your environment without losing your own style. Show a bit of your personality with your style.
Develop an outfit formula that serves you in your new position and signals that you are in charge
Think about how you want to be perceived and what responsibilities you take on. Are you a team leader, working in sales or an analyst? Then look at what styles flatter your body and make you feel confident when you go into a meeting. Avoiding that feeling of ‘nothing to wear that feels right’ in the morning, is one of the biggest time savers and confidence boosters, allowing you to focus on your new role.
If you follow these five steps, you can be confident that your return will be a success.
About the author
Melanie Potro is a Style and Image Consultant working with women who want to achieve their career goals and go further with a wardrobe that means business.