After staying home with your children for an extended period of time, returning to work can be exciting, overwhelming and emotionally draining all at the same time. On the one hand, you’re excited to reconnect with colleagues, reboot your brain and earn a salary again. On the other, you’re terrified that your industry, the economy and above all, you, may have drastically changed since you were last employed.
Invest in yourself
According to Geeta Sheker, the director of the Initiative for Women in Business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, the biggest issue most women face when returning to their career is a lack of confidence. After years of immersing themselves in the world of playdates and Play-Doh, many moms question whether they still have what it takes to succeed professionally.
Sheker suggests that women will have an easier transition back into the paid workforce if they take the time to invest in themselves while they’re away from it. They can do this, for example, by maintaining their professional networks and retaining memberships in professional associations. This will help them keep their contacts and stay on top of industry trends, two things that will go a long way in their job search.
The dreaded gap
Taking the time to invest in yourself also helps you address the gap in your resume. As the job search website monster.ca points out, employers prefer to hire workers who have a recent track record.
“Women should focus on other transferable skills that they’ve acquired during their time at home, such as volunteer work, courses and part-time work,” advises Sheker. “Employers will take these things into account.”
For Andrea Avellaneda, this approach was critical to her success. A former consultant in Colombia, Avellaneda decided to return to work once her twin girls were three years old. She enrolled in the Initiative for Women in Business’ Back to Work Program to help her relaunch her career in Toronto. The program, she says, not only provided professional and practical support, such as child care, but it also connected her to 30 other women going through the same process and led her to a job at a top-tier Canadian financial institution.
“The program reminded me that I’m still me,” says Avellaneda. “I have the same skills and abilities that I’ve always had. I’m just as talented as I was before.”