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Five TOP TIPS for return to work parents now that school’s back!

School’s BACK in session – are you considering a return to work? Here are five tips that can help you transition back into career mode while still maintaining stability (and sanity!).

Return to Work – The Next Stage of Your Family’s Life

Have you been thinking about resurrecting your career lately? Maybe you’re realising the children are getting less dependent, you’d like to start saving for school fees or a holiday, or perhaps you just want to use your wealth of knowledge and skills. Plus, getting back to work has the added benefit of being able to finish a cup of tea without interruption!

Whatever your reason, embarking on a return to work after a career break can seem daunting – especially when you’ve been working as a stay-at-home parent. Being a full-time parent is one of the toughest jobs out there – no job description or procedural manual, no pay cheque, and rarely any recognition. It’s possible that your confidence might have taken a hit in that career context. Rest assured that you have been developing some valuable transferable skills during your parenting years that employers value.

However, often when parents do decide to return to work, they spend months sitting at the computer screen filtering adverts on online job boards, applying for the rare job that seems a good match and then hearing nothing further from their application. It can be mentally draining and exhausting. The advertising market is highly competitive, and while you might want to check it out from time to time in case your dream job appears, there are easier ways to find your dream job.

Here are our five top tips to return to work to a new job that you love.

Return to Work: Tell Everyone You’re In The Market

If you know what job you want, let your friends know! The easier you can make it for them to help you the better. If you’re not sure what direction you want to take, still get the word out –  it will widen your opportunities, and jumping into a role can help you learn more about what you like and don’t like in your work. Check out our network map activity to truly appreciate the size of your network.

Return to Work: Tap Into Social Media

Both Facebook and LinkedIn can be great sources of job opportunities. You can put an electronic-shout out that you’re in job search on Facebook whilst setting up a well written LinkedIn profile will position you to be found by recruiters and companies looking for someone with your skill-set. LinkedIn allows you to follow companies and people you’re interested in. Sometimes these companies advertise their roles on their company page or headhunt from their followers. You can also use the job search feature of LinkedIn or ask your connections to introduce you to members of their network that are in an industry or company of interest.

Return to Work: Reach Out To Employers You’d Like To Work For

Write a list of the companies that you are interested in – perhaps you like their products or services, or their values. Send them a well written cover letter and resume telling them why you’d like to work there and how you can make a contribution to their business. Or even better – take it in personally! If possible, set up a job alert on their website.

Return to Work: Contact Past Employers and Colleagues

If you loved working somewhere in the past would it still be a good fit? They could possibly need some extra support right now and they know you which is far less risky for them. Have a coffee with a contact or two there so that you stay front of mind even if they don’t have a current opportunity.

Return to Work: Consider Volunteering

This can be a great way to access work experience, referees and can also lead to paid work. Not all volunteering is the same so think strategically. Look for a field that you are interested in pursuing. Could you reasonably expect that the might be large enough to employee you later on? Will the skills you hone set you in good stead for where you’d like to go? There are lots of volunteering opportunities out there. Check out Volunteering Australia for listings, or tap into your personal network to find out about opportunities.

Return to Work? It can be done!

Many of my clients have had success with all of these strategies and they can work for you too! If you’d like some more tips and resources visit our CareerSmart Mums website. 

Donna Thistlethwaite is the professional careers coach behind CareerSmart Mums, a workshop that offers return-to-work mums the practical and motivational help they need to pursue a career that they love. For more information, and to join the CareerSmart Mums network, visit www.careersmartmums.com.au.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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