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.
Jackie will be joining us at our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference in London on 13 May. She will be part of a panel of returners who will share their story to help and inspire others. Find out more about our Conference and book your ticket now at the Early Bird price of £90.