The Return Journey - re-entering the workplace after a career break

The Return Journey -
Re-entering the workplace after a career break

Have you taken a career break to look after your children but now feel ready for a new challenge? Do you want to return to work but lack the confidence to do anything about it? Fiona, founder of Inspired Mums, gives her guide on helping mums return to the workplace.


A journey not a race

Returning to the world of work and finding the right career for you is no quick fix – but more a journey with stepping stones heading in the right direction.  Take the time to work out what you want from your career, draw on previous experience to identify what motivates you.  One of the keys to happiness is finding work you love. So often I hear my coaching clients say ‘I’ll do anything as long as it fits around the kids’. This is a common mistake mums make – they prioritise other people and then feel deeply unfulfilled and dissatisfied when they realise they are doing something that doesn’t motivate them or undervalues their skills.


Be positive

It can be extremely daunting for mums who have taken time off to look after their children to re-enter the world of work.  After months or years focusing on the needs of young children in your role as “mum”, it can be hard to remember what skills and strengths you can offer in a work context. Try to visualize what you were like before having children – when you had a great day at work, what were you doing? What are your natural strengths and attributes? Now, think of all the ways you have developed since you’ve had children.  It may be that you are more self-confident, better at juggling responsibilities, all skills that will be valuable to you in your new role.

Boost your confidence

One of the biggest barriers for mums to overcome when planning to return to work is a lack of confidence. Many mums worry they have left it too late to begin a new career and that their skills are no longer relevant.  More often than not, these are ‘stories’ we tell ourselves that aren’t backed up by facts – they are doubts that are holding you back.  Speak to employers and find out what skills they are looking for. You may want to do a refresher course, which can boost your confidence and get you up-to-date with the latest developments in your field. The Open University provides flexible distance learning opportunities for mums to retrain,

Do your research

Once you have an idea of what it is you want to do, make sure you research it thoroughly so that you head off in the right direction. Research will help you confirm whether you are taking the right path so that you end up with a job that fulfills and motivates you. Below are some of the key areas to look into:

  • Use the internet to research employment prospects – check salary expectations, career progression and what qualifications and experience are needed for your chosen career.
  • Network in person - talk to friends (or friends of friends) who do roles that you are interested in and get some inside information.
  • Network via social media - LinkedIn and Facebook are great tools for extending your contacts and reaching people in your target organisations.
  • Work experience or work-shadowing can be an invaluable way of finding out more about a specific career. It will also help you talk convincingly in interviews.
  • Take a part-time or temporary contract – even if it’s a more junior role that you would ultimately like – it will give you a very useful insight and update your CV.
  • If you want to retrain, take the time to speak to the course providers to find out what is involved and what you might be able to do with your qualifications at the end of the course.

Rest assured it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous and unsettled when planning on returning to the workplace.  Keep positive and stay focused as you embark on this exciting new stage of your journey and remember, “It’s never to late to be who you might have been” – George Eliot.

Fiona Clark is a qualified Career & Confidence Coach who specialises in helping Mums find fulfilling & family friendly careers. For help with any aspect of your career development, or if you would like a free consultation, please contact Fiona on 07789 597209 or