Returning to Work: Setting yourself up for Success!

It is true to say we are a long time working - a whopping one third of our lives on average, in fact, we spend earning a wage. No wonder more people than ever are fancying a career break!

Once over, employees felt the need to remain in a job for as long as possible; some, for life! Not the case in 2019 as we strive toward the utopia known as ‘work/life balance’, with many employees taking this over and above the odd Work from Home day and opting for a complete over and out!

Of course, there are many reasons to take time away from employment, most of which are genuinely positive. Choosing to have a family is one, where a career break for Mum – and more so than ever these days, for Dad – is expected, and often spans over the common maternity months into a long-term primary care role. Or, perhaps you want to take time out for other personal reasons – to embark on a round-the-world adventure or other life-long dream? Maybe you simply fancy a break, free from the demands of a morning alarm and boss-type creature! Perhaps your time out won’t even come by choice as you find yourself in the tough position of retrenchment or forced into taking long-term absence due to an illness or injury.

Good or not so good your reasons, the chances are you’ll have to return to the work force at some stage; if only to meet the ‘third of your life working’ projected stat! And, with all things ‘break’ you’re likely clear of head, full of positivity and extremely keen to get cracking again. Come on, then. Let’s go bag you your dream job!

Think Everything Through You’ve been absent a while and life has moved on in many ways, not least for you. The first thing you need to be clear on is the reason for your return to work. While it’s likely a financial driver, this won’t always be the case, intellectual fulfilment is perhaps ranking higher on your priority list? Once you’re at peace with your WHY, you’ll be better placed to consider which of the multiple WHATs available can get you there. For instance, if taking a position is more a brain stimulator, looking for a role with part-time hours may suffice. Or, if it’s the big bucks you’re after, you may have to prepare yourself for longer hours, not to mention relying on specific skills to earn them.

Be Current! It all starts with making sure your identity is up to date. That’s right: your CV! Even if you’ve been sponsored into a conversation with a potential employer, the chances are you’ll be expected to present a current CV including details of all previous roles and what you’ve been up to during your time away from employment. Think about it this way, a CV is most likely the first time a recruiter, HR professional or business owner has laid eyes on you, so to speak; and a gaping hole at the top of your work history can generate questions. Explain the reasons for your absence, whatever they might be, to allow those giving your CV the once-over a chance to understand where you’ve been and for what purpose. Hint: most modern, forward-thinking employers see time spent away from the workplace as a positive, so don’t be backwards in coming forwards!

Do Your Homework So, you’ve stumbled across this advert for a job that sounds AMAZING! It’s exactly what you were looking for, from the role’s responsibilities to the location to the salary package, every box presents a huge tick. Job done! Hang on a second… just who is this wonder-boss offering you perfection in work form? Let’s be honest, anyone with a decent Marketing team can make their vacant role sound top-notch and you need to know it’s not all talk! Take time to get to know the hiring company in question and see if they’re the correct fit. Whether they’re large or small, it’s relatively simple these days to source information online with a company’s website often boasting its ethos and values front of centre. Make sure they give off a vibe which aligns well with your own beliefs and where you see a clear common ground.

Know the Process We think we’re liking this company, which is awesome! All we need to do now is earn ourselves an interview and nail it! Oh, OK… It turns out they’re expecting you to attend several rounds of interviews for this role. All good, we can handle that, right? We just need to know what we’re up against so we can plan our delivery! Which is where a recruiter is worth their weight in gold; they work regularly with the hiring company and know their interview process inside out, from the steps involved through to their interview style (yes, there are several!). Or, if you’re dealing directly with the company’s hiring manager, don’t be afraid to drop them an email to ask for a full breakdown of their interview process and how it is you will be assessed. It shows your thorough approach before you’re even through the door!

It’s Show Time! You’ve made it through to the interview stage. Great! Except, it’s not always so great for those tens of millions of people who get the interview jitters! If this is you, it’s likely you’ve been told not to worry – again, not that simple – although do try to remember this is a two-way communication and the company is as much on show here as you are. With plenty of preparation done beforehand, including lots of practice on demonstrative questions (you know the ones, they’re like this: “Give me an example of when you helped turn a customer service issue into a positive experience”) and you’ll be ready for all that’s asked of you. Take a pen and paper into the room with you and feel free to make notes during your interview; it shows you are keen on what your future boss has to say. Make sure you bring a list of closing questions which for some roles are an ‘essential’ rather than a ‘suggestion’; think Sales-Makers, where closure is everything!

Congratulations! You’ve been offered the role! Now the real fun starts! Negotiating your salary package, company vehicle, parking space allocation, number of days annual leave, travel vouchers, in-house gym membership, trial period, start date, on-boarding process, work from home days, core hours… Best of luck with that!

For assistance securing your next successful role, have a chat with the team at 121, email or call us on 01904 769142.