Jackie Simpson (5 year+ career break)
In the latter half of 2016, I had been at home for over 5 years looking after my 3 children and decided that I would start thinking about finding a job for when my youngest started school in the next year or two.
I started looking at job sites and found reasons not to apply for pretty much everything and the roles I did apply for were not related to the skills I had gained over the years, not surprisingly I made little progress so I decided to be a little braver and reached out to a couple of people I had worked with in the past.
My previous experience centred around accountancy, managing projects and supporting sales – quite varied and generalist. At that time, my professional confidence wasn’t what it is now or had been in the past and I think this is a common problem with people who take a career break, you feel like employers won’t consider you because there are people out there who have more recent experience and who don’t need as much flexibility as a parent.
Reaching out to past contacts turned out to be the best thing I could have done, and my now manager Anthony responded and I ended up back at work – working at Cistor Ltd – within three months working 3 days a week. I was a little nervous at first but found my feet very quickly and all the concerns you have about the kids, eg, what happens if they are sick or you get a call from school (etc, etc) go away when you establish trust and have a supportive boss. I did take a pay cut to return to work, but the company and role wasn’t comparable to what I had done previously and I was happy to do this in return for the flexibility I was gaining and for the opportunity to prove myself.
After 16 months, I was promoted to Managing Director and while it is still early days I am enjoying the challenge and feel like I am making good progress in my career. I still work flexibly and maintain a good work life balance although I am very determined and focused to ensure I can keep it that way.
My top tip for other women looking to return to work after an extended career break is to reach out to your existing network.