Maternity and care for elders are the top two reasons why women quit. The good news is that while earlier it was for good now it is just a career break. That is not to say it’s easy to jump right back in.
More women – as compared to men – take a career break. The break is usually for about 3 to 4 years while they settle into their new family and the kids begin school and it may extend further if there are elders to care for or the couple decides to wait on starting a family. On the other hand, a gap of even a year brings dynamic changes on the work front given the times we live in. Getting back to work is therefore no easy task. If you are in that situation here are a few things to keep in mind when considering a comeback.
Start at the Start
Getting back to work – even if it is at the same place – involves a lot of adjustment. Not only has your own perspective and priority changed, you can expect a completely new atmosphere at work with younger colleagues, modified processes, and new technology that you need to learn. This is likely to make you feel a bit outdated and disoriented. On the other hand, your family has adapted to your staying at home they may find it hard to let go.
The answer to this dilemma is to visualize the comeback even as you decide to take a break. Prepare your family – and more importantly yourself – for the fact that you will definitely be getting back to work.
Draw up a plan of action well ahead of time. Consider how many children you plan to have and when. Discuss this with your spouse. Would you for example like to get back after your first child and then take another break for the second time round? Alternatively, would you rather make a complete break and get back after both your kids are at school? Also, consider your support system carefully and make plans for tending to your elderly in-laws, kids, and the home.
This is perhaps the most important thing to do. If you eventually want to get back to office work, you need to stay fit and capable of doing so. If this is your maternity break, take the necessary rest to recover and then quickly set up your exercise routine.
Regular exercise will keep you fit and flexible. Avoid becoming a couch potato as you feed and tend to your baby. Take the help of family members where possible. Understandably you may not want to leave your baby with a maid, but she can cook and clean while you rest so that you can take your baby out in the pram with you for your evening walk.
While you are on your break, stay abreast of the developments in your field. Use your spare time to read up about happenings on the internet and newspapers. Every field has some tangential options – for example, the Chartered Accountant can begin handling individual accounts at home instead of resuming the corporate job. The developer can opt for writing single scripts rather than developing whole systems. Consider tangential fields in your area of specialization and line up an alternative plan in case you fail to land a job after your break.
Consider the programmer who kept herself up to speed by learning new programming languages and other technology only to find that she could not meet up to her commitments when she finally decided to stage a comeback as a freelancer. It is important not only stay abreast but also to consider the situation at home and the commitment you can make towards your work. As you learn about new developments at your old workplace and in your chosen field or profession, evaluate your ability to meet deadlines, stay back late, and work weekends vis-à-vis commitments at home.
Work on the basics
Keep your CV updated even when you are on your break. Look at the current trends in CV format and as you learn new skills, update your resume to include them. Simultaneously work on your cover letter and interview. Keep all your certificates and other documents where you can easily get to them. Build your portfolio with a fixed goal in mind. All this will keep you gainfully occupied while saving time at zero hour.
Mentally prepare yourself for the shock that you will get when you first enter the office. You will see a much younger and more hip crowd when you get back – depending of course on the length of your break. Whether it is at your old workplace or a new one, there will surely be a change of scene – both because many of your colleagues may have left and because you yourself have changed during your break.
Prepare also to change course and adopt a new career if you are for some reason unable to get back onto your old one.
Read, read, and read more. Build up to the day you have your first after-break interview – or is it called F2F now?
Employers fear – and it is a valid fear – that women will simply up and leave at the slightest sign of trouble at home. After all what can be more important for a mother than her children? There are the PTAs, ailments, and simply pampering to consider. Then there are ailing elderly parents, in-laws and social commitments. Quite a pot-full don’t you think?
Be open about the reason for your break. Touch upon it briefly, but keep it short. You can mention briefly whatever arrangements you have made to show that you will not land in a mess. Acknowledge their concerns and reassure them that you will not ditch them in their time of need. Gently steer the conversation towards work related topics rather than the length or reason for your break.
Getting back to work is not easy; however, it is no Herculean task either if done in a planned manner with some forethought. So here’s to a great after break career! Meanwhile BYN is right here bringing you bits of information from the world of education and recruitment. Don’t forget to sign up for your weekly update and offer. Join us on Facebook for more.