One of the problems people face when returning to work after a career break, voluntary work or maternity leave is assessing their skills. It is easy to underplay what you have achieved during this time. Balancing a family budget, negotiating to get children into a particular school or organising fund-raising events all require skills which can be transferred on to a CV or application form. Employers will often look out for soft skills such as initiative, flexibility, and teamworking.
It is important to market your skills effectively:
– Write a list of everything you’ve done since leaving your job. Include balancing a family budget, reading a bus timetable in a foreign language, organising the activities of children, caring for a parent or any other information, whether you consider it relevant or not.
– Ask someone independently to assess what you’ve done. Ideally speak to a consultant, but if that proves difficult approach a friend. Choose someone who is likely to know your strengths and weaknesses, but will help you objectively assess the activities you’ve been involved with.
– Speak to other people who have returned to work. You might want to consider setting up a local network, placing an advertisement in a local paper and getting like-minded people together for coffee or other events. Networking may help you find openings you wouldn’t otherwise discover.
– Have someone help you assess your CV. Your Recruitment Consultant can help you with fine-tuning. Alternatively, there are a number of consultants who will polish up a CV for a price.
– Look at your past achievements. People in work look at projects they have completed, but someone on a career break often think they haven’t achieved anything. Think about big projects you have handled. Moving house, for example, involves organisational and negotiating skills including finding new schools for children, getting people and belongings to a new location, and negotiating with landlords or estate agents. Travelling in other countries requires a certain level of resourcefulness and flexibility, and is great at sharpening your people skills.