The dos and don'ts of returning to a career after having children

Yuliana Topazly
Germany Debates Expanding Parental Leave
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If you're taking time off to look after your children, the chances are you may be worrying about losing touch with

the world of work – and concerned that you’ll struggle to get back into it again.

The good news is there is plenty you can do to give yourself the best possible opportunities when the time is right to return to your career.

DO: Get your informal networks going

Lunch with a friend from work or a quick phone call to a team mate will give you a feel of how things are in your workplace. It will keep you firmly in the minds of colleagues as someone eager to come back and pick upfrom where you left. It will also help to build your confidence.

DO: Online courses

There are a lot of free online courses that can help you build and update your skills. Not only will they boost your confidence, but completing them will also demonstrate to your future employer that you are keen to learn, have a range of skills, and will be an asset to the team.

DO: Use social networking platforms

Join relevant LinkedIn groups. Being away from work is the perfect time to boost your professional social networking profile. Contribute opinions, share links and respond to messages. All this helps to keep you in the business frame of mind and up to date with recent changes.

DO: Get up to speed with recruitment trends

Some 80 per cent of jobs are filled through networks. Over 90 per cent are advertised online. Optimise your CV for online recruitment and ensure you include skills you have gained while being away from work. Add your new skills, and think about what parenthood has taught you that you may be able to transfer to the workplace.

DON’T: Go it alone

Join parenting networks like BuddyWith. These platforms are a great way for parents to connect in their local area in order to offer or get support. You’ll meet new people, make contacts, be able to share skills, advice and ideas – and you’ll expand your network. All of which will serve you well when you return to work.

DON’T: Lower the bar

Before you decide to leave your high-powered job because you are worried you can’t balance it with your family, speak to HR. Ask what policies your employer has in place to support working parents. Often the support and understanding is there – if you ask for it.

DO: Look after yourself

Parenting can be tough, and for women, post-natal depression is often downplayed. If you experience signs of mental illness or distress, seek professional help. Don’t leave it too late. You are not alone – so don’t feel afraid to share your feelings with other parents, your partner and your doctor.

DON’T: Make your employer unrealistic promises

Don’t promise your employer 100 per cent attendance and commitment. You cannot guarantee that your child is never going to be ill, especially when they start nursery. But if you can, try to use family members or close friends if your child needs to be picked up from a nursery in the middle of the day.

By keeping in touch with the world beyond your baby and using some of your time to learn new skills or build on existing ones, there is no reason why you can’t come back into the workplace with even more to offer than when you left.

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