Starting can sometimes be the biggest hurdle...

My return to work journey has been rollercoaster of highs and lows every step of the way.  

There are great moments, where you begin to feel the confidence of returning to work, meeting with your network, starting to talk business again, been reminded of your skills and a sense of pride as you reflect on what you have achieved to date! 

There is also a lot of time spent thinking, soul searching, researching, faith in your abilities one minute and complete lack the next.  The journey can also be quite isolating if you are at home alone updating, researching, applying for jobs and receiving no replies to applications. The voice of doubt creeps in ‘Is this worth it’, ‘who is going to want me.’  

I am business professional with more than 10 years’ experience as a Product Manager in the telecommunications industry and I loved my time working in highly competitive and disruptive markets. Equally during my career break I continued to apply my skills and embrace the challenges across a variety of volunteer roles within my local community and school.

My return to work journey started in 2016, when I started to think about the possibility of returning to work when my youngest child started school.  Initially it was nothing more than a thought process and some idle chatter. Starting was tough and it wasn’t until 2 years later when the actual groundwork started.

After 14 years as primary carer of my family, returning to work was quite daunting - my confidence was low. Returning to work with no recent professional work experience was going to be a hard sell. First, I had to work out what I wanted to do - did I want to return to the same type of job, what industry, full or part time. I had to think about my existing job and how that was going to change. After some deliberation I started my journey, with a no turning back and ready to succeed.

So far, I have learnt a lot about myself and the return to work journey. The three main lessons I have learnt are: 

Have confidence in yourself! I am still the same determined, driven person that I was before kids and I still have the knowledge, skills and experience that I left with. In addition, I have grown as a person during my time out, being an active member of my community, undertaking projects and completing short courses, and as such bring more knowledge, skills and experience to my next role.

It requires sustained effort. The return to work journey is not a simple or linear path, you really need to treat the process as a job in itself, but if you put in the effort you will reap the rewards and continue to move forward.

Networking is crucial to your return to work success. Through proactively expanding my network this has led to many opportunities, 2 potential jobs, final round interviews and conversations that have built my confidence. 

I am still on the journey and am extremely optimistic about what the future holds and can’t wait to return.

*Karen has also supported ZIPWIRE with our customer journey mapping, content development and market research.