9 tips to help you get back into the workforce after maternity leave
The following is a guest post from expert Jo Martin, The Glamazon Advocate and owner of Own Your Road. We met at a recent conference and she is wonderful!
Your little bundle of joy has come into the world. You’ve most likely been through what many of us know is the toughest 6 weeks you will ever experience. Being at your baby’s beck and call with 3 hourly feeds and no sleep is exhausting.
I remember so well, waking up one night through the first six weeks thinking one of my twin’s had not settled, only to be told by my husband it was time for the next feed. At first, I cried, then hopped up to keep feeding my children so they could develop and thrive.
I realised afterwards this was actually teaching me resilience, one of many skills we develop when we have our children.
1. Recognise Your Skills
Skills we develop as mothers are ones we need to realise and draw on when we are thinking about heading back to work after maternity leave. Or when finding a new job after we have had our family and are ready to do the work we love and make an impact in the corporate world again.
Working, or looking for work in a male dominated industry, we can sometimes feel we have a disadvantage due to time off for kids. However, my belief is that having children gives us an advantage to climb the corporate ladder, you just have to know what you’re working with.
2. Keep In Touch With Your Manager
My biggest piece of advice if you plan to go back after 6 or 12 months maternity leave from your current workplace is to keep in touch with your manager and workplace throughout the time you have away. Make plans with them for you to pop in for a coffee and chat. Be sure to say hello to as many people you used to work with as possible so they know you’re still around.
I did this around three times during my 14 months maternity leave with my twins. After the third visit, the sales director came up to me asking when I was coming back as his team had change and he needed my straight shooting approach on forecasting back to help understand where they stood.
3. Return Because You Want To
When I returned, I made it clear I was back because I wanted to be, not because I had to. Yes, in my heart I missed being with my children and there were some tough ‘mothers guilt’ days but at the crux of it all, I loved what I did, loved the adult interaction and I missed the challenges of work in my 14 months off.
Yes, some mothers have to return to work but even then, try to look at the positives, what you enjoy from it and focus on that instead.
4. Be Flexible
You may have to adjust your hours as you balance your day but discussing this early helps set expectations on all fronts. Flexible work is becoming more common in the workplace as companies realise it is essential to ensure they attract the right employees. It isn’t doing less, it’s doing it at a place or time that works better for your life and demands.
I find when I do work from home, for example if my children have been sick, I do more work than in the office. At home I don’t have people coming up for a chat, I haven’t had to commute and therefore can work earlier and later.
5. Use Your Village
When it comes to care and the kids, the analogy “It takes a village” is so true. You can try and do it on your own but it’s tough. Communication is the key here, when talking to your partner, family, parents, siblings or anyone else about whether they can help you balance the day so you can work a full day.
As my children have gotten older and if my husband has been away on work, I’ve taken up the offer on occasion of someone helping me pick up the kids for sports training so I don’t have to stress about them getting there late, or not at all with meetings that were planned.
If you find yourself being the one who has to do drop off and pick up, then call it out early before it becomes a problem.
Many years ago, as I started at a new company, I found myself often messaging my husband in the afternoon that I couldn’t pick up the kids on time as I had to work back. This went on for close to a month before my husband, who was dropping the kids off at daycare in the morning, said to me one night that he wasn’t coping and things had to change.
I hadn’t realised what I was doing and quickly changed to ensure it was even and would work for everyone.
7. You Have The Experience!
If you are looking to get back into the workforce after an extended break, a lot of the above is applicable. However, applying for jobs in a male dominated industry can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Did you know men look at a job as and the requirements for a role then apply even though they only have a couple of the points listed? Women, on the other hand, will look and see they have 8 out of 10 then not apply because they don’t have all the experience!
It’s all about creating a link with what you’ve done to what they are asking. You don’t need to have the specific experience, just be able to show how your past links to it.
8. List Your Skills
You have to know that since having a baby, or babies, your skills have improved since you’ve been on leave:
– You’ve had tight timelines every day of the week, with no extensions granted. Your child’s feeding and sleeping patterns have ensured that.
– Your ability to multitask, prioritise and adjust as you go based on your changing environment.
– Problem solving techniques have been mastered.
9. Be Confident
Confidence plays a part and it is something you should have plenty of. After all, you’ve successfully managed to determine what a little person wants, even though they can;t talk or point for the first 6 months if their life. I’m sure there are not many men that can say that!
Embrace what you have and be true to yourself. This concept is at the heart of my 5-step methodology Taking The Mask Off, ensuring you aren’t being someone that you are not. You can download it for FREE here to help you on your way —> http://bit.ly/Take_The_Mask_Off
Bio – Jo Martin
Jo Martin, The Glamazon Advocate, is a passionate wife, mother, corporate executive, entrepreneur with 20+ years of leadership and success in the corporate arena. She is passionate about empowering women in the workplace and seeing them succeed.
Jo helps women in male dominated industries understand their value so they can stride confidently through whatever is thrown at them to achieve their goals.
Jo has seen far too many brilliant women at in a manner that isn’t them and ultimately fail in their quest to success. It is, for this reason, Jo started her coaching business, Own Your Road.
“I am building a community of Glamazons! Women who want to be strong like Warriors. Warriors, who are still women with very high values. They can be sensitive, they are smart, and independent and emotional, and they can at times lose their confidence. At the heart of them, they are brave!”