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Returning to Work after Raising a Family Hints and Tips

Returning to work after raising a family can be daunting. Many of the people I have supported over the years have worried about what employers will think about the ‘gap' in their career and whether this would stop them from getting back into work. As a previous stay-at-home mum who had to (reluctantly) return to work for financial reasons, I constantly questioned myself about what I could possibly have to offer an employer. I would worry about things like, ‘how do I explain my reasons why I left my old job to raise a family', ‘why would an employer want to choose me over someone who has been in work recently' and ‘what sort of job should I be applying for that will fit around my children'. Let's not even mention the crippling guilt that I felt towards my children by not being at home to care for them every day. Needless to say, I think that we can all agree that making the decision to return to work after raising a family is not easy. Here are some hints and tips for those of you that are contemplating returning to work to hopefully relieve some of those worries and give you the best possible chance of success.

Work out what type of work will suit you best

Having clear direction about the type of work you would like to do can be a huge help. Your circumstances are different now. So too are your priorities, so what do you want from a job? Writing a short list of the things you want could help, i.e. what working pattern/hours do you think you could work? Would you like the opportunity to work from home? Would you want a role that included travelling long distances or not?

Many people returning to work automatically steer towards roles they are experienced in or have done previously, but these may not work for you now. Could you consider a career change? A good place to start is by exploring the types of jobs that might suit you. There are a number of online quizzes and activities that you can access at home to get you going. Some of the ones I like are:

If you still feel unsure and would like more advice, you can access free, confidential, impartial careers advice from the National Careers Service, who offer both telephone or face to face appointments to suit you. All the information on how to book an appointment, as well as useful information on different job roles and hints and tips on job seeking can be found on their website.

Get working on your CV

The way that we write CV's has changed a lot over the last 10 years and many things that we used to include in a CV are no longer relevant. If you have an old CV, it may be worth spending some time tidying it up and bringing it up to date. Here are a few tips:

  • A CV should ideally be no more than 2 pages long and cover the last 10-15 years of career history
  • When writing your career history, always start with your most recent job first and then work backwards
  • Your CV should always be relevant to the jobs you are applying for. It is no good telling an employer that you have skills in bricklaying if you are applying for an administration job
  • The appearance of your CV is just as important as the content. Keep the font standard, use bold and underline to highlight specific sections, use bullet points to make it easy to read and keep the font colour black.

You can find more useful tips on writing a CV on the following websites:

Always account for the gap in your career

Continuing with the subject of CV's, always make sure that you account for the gap in your career. A brief explanation of what you have been doing during that time will suffice. Previously, those returning to work were advised to list the duties that they performed at home, such as maintaining a daily routine and preparing and cooking healthy meals to try and demonstrate transferable skills, but recruiters are advising us that this is no longer necessary. Instead they say that writing a very brief explanation on what you were doing would be enough, such as ‘I took a career break to raise my 2 children. Now both in school full time, I am looking for a new opportunity'.

If you have been a stay-at-home parent, but have done some volunteering on the side, such as helping at your child's school or running a toddler group etc, then talk about that. It is a great way of demonstrating skills that you have gained. You can find more useful information on accounting for the gap in your CV by reading How to acknowledge career gaps in you CV.

Consider updating your skills

If you feel that your skills need updating, you could consider some volunteering or work experience as an option. Both methods offer the opportunity to try something new, learn new skills (as well as updating old ones) and will bring your career history right up to date. It could even give you an up to date reference which would be very useful when applying for jobs. Volunteering is not just about working in charity shops, there are lots of things you could do. The ‘Do-it for Good' website is a fantastic way to source volunteering options in your area. By simply putting in your postcode, you can find available volunteer roles that you can apply for near you.

Thinking a course might be a better option? Have a look at what your local college has to offer. Many have part-time courses and Adult Learning programmes. Dependent on your circumstances, you may be able to access many of these courses for free.

Make use of your personal network

You've heard of the phrase ‘it's not what you know, it's who you know', well this is certainly true of job seekers. Speak to your friends and family. Let them know you are looking for work. They may know of an opportunity that is coming up within the company they work for, or have some ideas of who to contact.

Final thoughts…

Be patient. Job seeking is hard for everyone, even those of us who have trained in employability. Try to keep yourself motivated by setting yourself short goals to achieve each day. For example, ‘today I will apply for 2 retail jobs'. Finally, just remember that no matter what, you are enough, and the right employer will see that.

Wiltshire Family and Community Learning can offer you a range of courses that will help build your confidence, give you an understanding of the current trends in job seeking or develop new skills. For further details view our course guide.

Call 01225 770478 or email: Familyandcommunitylearning@wiltshire.gov.uk

By Louise El-Wardany
Development Worker, Building Bridges Programme

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Last updated: 17 October 2019 | Last reviewed: 17 October 2019