How To Go Back To Work After A Career Break
These days it is has become more commonplace for people to take a break from their usual work for a period of time and for the employer to keep the role open for them. Parental leave, study break, sabbatical…
Close to a year ago I became a parent for the first time to my baby Cleo. I have just returned to working at Consult and it went surprisingly smoothly. Here are a few things that made my transition back to work feel more natural and less daunting that I thought were worth sharing.
COMMUNICATE YOUR PLANS EARLY
As soon as you know you want to take extended leave talk about your plans with your employer. For me, my bump would have eventually given me away but it was a relief to be able to be open about it from about the 3-month mark. The date I wanted to return and the number of days a week I wanted to work were a more fluid discussion but communicating this with my boss as early as I could give us both the chance to structure a role that would suit and to plan for it.
For less conventional long-term leave requests it may initially come as a bit of a surprise to your employer. But the more notice you give them the more opportunity they will have to get used to the idea and come up with options of how to make it work. My colleague Gareth was offered a one-year rugby contract in Ireland which was too good to pass up. Consult was happy to give him that time away. What’s in it for Consult is that they will have a fantastic employee return to them in one year’s time who will no doubt have a lot of loyalty for the flexibility they gave him.
BE FAIR TO YOUR EMPLOYER
In the lead up to going on leave, there is a huge temptation to wind down and get distracted by your upcoming adventure or stint away. As much as possible keep your focus on your job and be fair to your employer. Don’t switch off early. They will respect you for it and remember it for when the time arrives for you to return.
DON’T BE A STRANGER
For me remaining in touch with my team and boss while on leave was the one thing that contributed most to a smooth transition back to work. I was lucky that Consult made a point of making me feel like I was still part of the team even though I was not in the office. They invited me to many team and company events that made me feel included. Although it was not practical for me to attend all of them it was important to me to join in and keep up the contact. Besides, I like my workmates and they are good fun. Going to a work BBQ was hardly a chore. I also attended a breakfast which Consult put on to celebrate Greg Savage becoming a shareholder in the business. Being back in the work scene and putting on a suit was a refreshing change and got me a bit excited about the idea of going back to work.
If invitations like this are not forthcoming from your employer don’t worry. But be proactive. Meet up with your boss or colleagues for a coffee from time to time, drop in with morning tea or if you are not nearby then send them an email or postcard. These little things will make a difference. If you have a new baby then this gives you the perfect excuse to visit the office to show off your new addition!
KEEP IN THE LOOP (OUT OF THE BUBBLE)
On top of keeping in touch with people, it is helpful to keep up to date with what is happening in your industry even if just at a very high level. This can be a big ask for a new mum or someone who is out of the country but social media does make it feasible and simple to keep in the loop. You could sign up for regular industry newsletters, keep an eye on LinkedIn and Twitter or attend the occasional industry event. I went along to the CPA Be Exceptional Dinner. It was a good chance to get some inspiration and catch up with other accountants.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU KNOW
It is inevitable that in the time that you have been away things will have changed. It is a fact of life these days. In the time I was on maternity leave Consult had doubled in size, opened up a new office in Newmarket, taken on a new shareholder and made plenty of improvements to their processes and systems. As well my role has taken on a new focus. There were lots of new faces to acquaint myself with and new things to pick up. But fundamentally it is still recruitment and with a bit of time and patience I will pick everything up and adjust.
HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
As with everything your attitude has a big influence on how things will go.
I have come back to work excited to be back and ready to start my next phase as a working mum. I’m ready to embrace the new challenges and to keep growing. It keeps life interesting!
We are super stoked to have Greta back in the ranks with us. If you want to get in touch with her to catch up drop her an email or connect with her.