Having a baby and starting to raise a family is an incredible journey, but many women can find it daunting and at times tricky getting back into work, or even starting a completely new career path, once maternity leave comes to an end.

How To Get Back On The Career Ladder After Maternity Leave

How To Get Back On The Career Ladder After Maternity Leave

If your professional life isn't quite heading in the direction you'd hoped it would, then use this time out to stop and reflect on your career to date. Your maternity leave should provide you with the perfect chance to take a breather from the world of work, so that you can reconsider your options and think about the most suitable next steps.

This task in itself may seem like an overwhelming hurdle to overcome, so where do you start to make such a big change?

Finding a new role, or changing your career might seem like a huge stride, so keep it simple by starting off with small steps. Clare Riding, Head of Careers and Employability Services at The Open University, has pulled together the top things to consider when looking to make this change:

1) Explore your personal interests - think about and group your skills and interests together to see whether they could relate to a future career. For example, do they lie within any of the following groups:

  • Social (caring)
  • Communication or language
  • Organising, managing
  • Practical or technical
  • Artistic, music, drama (creative)
  • Sport, leisure
  • Entrepreneurial

This will help you to identify the possible jobs available to you within a particular area. For instance, if you're quite a creative person, you might like a career as an artist, sculptor or dressmaker, or if you're really into your sports, you may be interested in pursuing a career in sports management or coaching.

2) Identify your work values - consider words such as autonomy, variety, intellectual, artistic, and excitement. Will the job you have in mind clash with any of your personal values? Spend some time reflecting on the life values that really matter to you as an individual, as it's important to align these to your chosen career.

3) Check if you have the necessary skills needed - by looking at the activities or tasks involved you should be able to identify the skills and qualities required. You will also find these listed in job descriptions. You now need to think carefully about whether you have these required skills and qualities.

If you don't, start to investigate how you could develop them. Could you carry out some additional work experience to help you gain these missing skills? Or spend a day or two shadowing someone in a similar role?

4) Do your research - to find out what is happening in the world of work, read the newspapers and listen to the news on the TV and radio to identify if companies are recruiting people in any of the fields that you're interested in. If not, why not?

Also, explore the shelf-life of a possible new career, will it still be there in ten years time or so? If not, is there possibility for this job to lead on to future career opportunities instead?

5) Explore whether the hours will suit you and your new family - Will you struggle to balance your new family commitments with the hours of this job? For example, if you do not finish until 5.00 pm, will you need to find an after-school club for your children? If you are required to work weekends will this ruin your leisure activities?

6) Will the salary suit you and your lifestyle - if you change career you may have to accept a drop in salary? Sometimes taking a short-term drop in salary may lead to greater long-term benefits, but it's vital that you bear in mind the financial implications this may have, even in the short-term.

7) Finally, make the match - What qualifications are required? Have you checked whether specific qualifications are essential? Are your qualifications appropriate? You may need to consider gaining additional qualifications through further study.

For further information, please visit The Open University's Careers and Employability Services website -http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/careers/

Why don't you try the new free Open University online course 'Succeed in the Workplace'. For those considering embarking on a new career path, just starting out in the job market or even returning to work after a break, this handy free 8-week course provides a useful overview on this topic.

Skills to be gained include the following:

  • Writing strong CVs and application forms
  • Tips on how to handle different types of interviews

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