Career breaks can happen because of many reasons. The most common reason among women, is taking time off to have and raise children.
Some women jump back to their jobs right away, while others take a while to spend several years with their children before getting back to work. After the break, when you want to start working again, it can seem like a very daunting task. With constant change happening around us, a few years of not keeping up, can make you feel very outdated.
I, personally found it very difficult to get back to working after taking a break for 8 years. I gave up my job in Dubai and moved back to India to settle and start a family in a new city. I gave up my career to build a new home for my family and to be with my children and watch them grow.
When I did decide to get back to working, there was panic on the home-front. I didn’t know where to leave my kids, how to manage their school drop/picks, their extra-curricular activities, their studies….and the list goes on! Being home, with them all these years, they couldn’t imagine a day without having me around. The kids would get very clingy and cranky even at the thought of me going to work. It affected me emotionally, and a lot of times I even thought of giving up the idea of working for their sake.
On the career front, I didn’t know what I would be good at. A lot of things around me had changed. Most importantly, my own interests had changed.
During those eight years at home, I used to tutor little kids as well as do basic spoken English classes for young women. I had great fun teaching adults in comparison to teaching kids. It was then, that I realised that training was what I wanted to pursue. I am a very people person, very high on energy and love making conversations with anyone without any apprehensions. After speaking to many people, trying to get an insight into the training world, everyone who knew me well told me I would fit into the role perfectly. Having realised that this was my calling, I started working towards finding a company that would hire me.
I assumed this would be an easy task for me as:
1 - I have very good command over the English language
2 - I was extremely confident
3 - I was reasonably presentable.
However, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be!
No one was willing to give me that break!! All the people that told me that I was a perfect fit for the industry, now started giving me advice on how It would be difficult to find something as I had no prior experience in the field. I was confused, as all my past experience didn’t seem to matter. Even the fact that I had international experience working a corporate job, gave me no leverage. I even tried to reach out to close family friends who were in the training field and asked if I could shadow them for “FREE” just to gain some knowledge and experience, but I was politely put off.
While looking for a job, I realised that having some certification would add value to my resume. I enrolled myself in a “Train The Trainer” course from Dale Carnegie. However, before my course could start, I met someone through some networking, who was experienced and established in the field of training and was willing to help and guide me. I am now employed with Search 4 Excellence for over a year as a Corporate Trainer and I love what I’m doing!
Based on my experience, below are some challenges “moms” might face while joining work after a career break and some tips on how to cope up with them!
You will feel extremely guilty about leaving your kids at home. As much as the kids need their mom, they also need some space. They need to explore the world on their own and learn to be independent.
You might face some separation anxiety which may lead to a fair amount of depression which is natural. Don’t be disheartened. Remember, a mom will be a mom, and no one can take you’re place. Your kids will not forget you if you go out for 8-10 hours a day. In fact, they will value you more for the quality time they get with you.
There are times when you feel like your whole world is crumbling down. At first, I had to share my “me” time with my husband, then came the household responsibilities. Soon after came the kids, their school, their extra activities. Now, it’s trying to juggle all of those and work. There are times when I need to be everywhere at the same time. I feel like I don’t know which direction to go first and I’m confused. This is normal! Pull yourself together, get a grip of yourself and take charge. Everything will fall into place, eventually.
You might find that your confidence has gone down because of not being in touch and up-to-date with the industry. Try to brush up your skills and knowledge prior to joining work. Certification, trainings and seminars can be your options to get back on track. If possible, try to attend a few interviews to get some exposure and find out what you might be lagging in.
Your family, however supportive, will always be a bit sceptical about you getting back to work. It’s natural for them to panic. Just like it’s a big change for you, it’s a big change for them too. So be patient and give them some time to accept it. Tell them the positives of your decision and soon they will be standing behind you steady and strong!
People will condemn you for leaving your kids to someone else’s care the whole day. Its fine! In today’s day and age, it is very imperative for both parents to work to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living. Don’t be afraid to ask your family for help. After all, Grandparents are the next best thing after parents!
Set your expectations clear with your spouse. It might be difficult for him initially as well, because already your time for him was curtailed due to extended family and household responsibilities and now your job will take most of it. The struggle will be temporary. Give it time to settle. And don’t feel guilty if your husband has to babysit or take care of household chores at times. Its probably time for him to brush-up his “home” skills too.
Work place challenges:
I am lucky enough to be with an organization where discrimination does not exist. However, a lot of women getting back to work after a career break might face challenges like not getting equal opportunities, rigidity in accepting genuine reasons for leaves, always putting you in the slow -track even if you deserve the growth. You may face some slow progress because of the career break but don’t feel bad about it.
You have to be genuine and hardworking. If you have skills and talent, no one can stop you from showing it. Try to find opportunity and make sure you make most of it.
Job hunting is never the most pleasant experience in our professional lives. It is a trying time, especially so if you are getting back into the workforce after a break. After all this, there is a possibility it might work or not. You will never get to know unless you try. Be confident of your skills and look for firms that support people like you. Also, it is crucial to keep networking as you never know when and where an opportunity might strike.
So don’t give up, try your best and the transition back into work will be easier than you expected.