return to work inspiration

Career breaks and deciding to return to work


Returning to work can be overwhelming, especially if you have been off for a long time.

Everyone’s journey is different and it’s becoming more common for people to take breaks in their careers and return to work after a few months or even years away from the workplace. With a bit of planning and preparation you can return back to work.

Why do people take career breaks?


There are many reasons why people take career breaks. Parents take time to care for babies and children, childcare costs are high so it doesn’t make sense to put children in full time care.

Another reason for career breaks is the need to care for an elderly or ill family member such as parents. Some people in the UK are caring both for children and older family members which becomes a huge responsibility.

Many people have started taking career breaks to have a time out from work and travel or work on themselves and their mental health.

Sadly and often unwanted, career breaks can brought upon by redundancy or unemployment, which can cause a loss in confidence and well being.


Return to work with Inclusivity after a career break


This is why, what we do and focus on,  is so important as we, Inclusivity, help those on career breaks, return to work through returner programmes.

Returning to work requires various steps to follow and we can help ensure that you cover these steps. Consider what you want to share regarding your career break, but never feel like you have lost value in the workplace, so many return to work and pick it up so quickly again.


For more information or advice contact us here – We would love to help you return to work again!


6 top pieces of advice to inspire you to return to work


Seize the day

There is no guarantee that these jobs will be there in a few months time, the market dynamics change all the time and economically the world is very volatile. So make hay while the sun shines and take the gap while its available to be had!


It comes back to you so much quicker than you thought it would

So many of our candidates say this to us, the moment you are back in the industry, it comes back to you far quicker and with the right attitude, it becomes more natural and you fit it far more quickly than you think


Don’t over think it

Nothing is forever, and we all know there are seasons for different stages in our lives, so don’t over think it, if it feels right for you, grab it with both hands. Remember there are pros and cons to everything and each choice we make, if it feels more good than bad, then why not give it a go


Make your family a team

We all play a crucial role, from our kids to our partners, we all have to share the load, at times more and at times less, but we all need to ‘lean in’ where we can to support one another


Hybrid working has made it easier working from home

Thank you Covid for accelerating this, with working from home, it makes the work life balance sometimes a bit easier, and its ok to use those days to be a bit more flexible.


Keep moving forward

Whether its upskilling yourself through additional education or courses, helping out in your local community, show your potential employer that you are enthusiastic and eager to contribute.


Can you share any others we might have missed? We would love to hear your thoughts or advice on what’s inspired you to return to work.


For more information or advice contact us here


Hajra Khan

Returning to Work: Keep developing yourself


Hajra Khan chats to us about her journey from being a highly sought after Electrical Engineer to taking a career break, returning to work, developing herself, and some good advice for others.


Name: Hajra Khan

Career break: 14 years all together (12 yrs +2 years career break)

Company placed into: Ramboll UK

New role: Project Manager





I am an Electrical Engineer from Pakistan, worked as a Design Manager for over 4 years in the Telecom Sector. I started my job as a fresh graduate and very quickly moved up and was promoted as Manager, lead a team of over 20 Engineering professionals. I was awarded Best Planning Engineer for two consecutive years before being promoted to Assistant Manager and then Planning Manager.

I then took a career break when moved to Scotland to look after my young family.




I completed my second undergraduate degree in Business management (with Distinction) and started my journey towards acquiring Prince 2 certification.




Online search (Good old Google)




The Inclusivity Team has been very supportive throughout the process. I am so grateful that they arranged an interview after the application submission, they made sure that they understood my  background, understood my reasons for taking a career break and offered tailored support to me.

The help and support from Inclusivity has been incredible throughout the process from interviews, landing into a role with Ramboll, and throughout the probationary period.




My only advice to others (especially returners) is to “never give up”. I know it’s a very hard journey searching for jobs (especially after a career break), where you have to face refusals most of the time.

But for me the secret to success is “JUST KEEP GOING AND KEEP DEVELOPING YOURSELF”.

I know its hard to deal with refusals, but just gather yourself and work even harder the next time, and remember to keep developing yourself professionally, courses, webinars, volunteership, anything that is accessible for you. You will succeed one day, as “there is always light at the end of the tunnel and a sunshine after a dark night”.


Stay positive.


Ramboll is a client that Inclusivity has worked with for some time and we have excellent connections with many of the UK’s top employers. If you are on a career break seeking to return we urge you to submit your C.V to us here. Or view all opportunities here, all candidates we place will receive our unique 1:1 coaching and on-going support to ensure your transition back to work with confidence.

Inclusive recruitment Caroline Barber


Getting to know Caroline Barber and understand her role as Global Program Manager for Inclusive Recruitment at WTWinclusive recruitment at WTWCaroline, tell us about your new current role at WTW, what it is, and what it entails?


I have recently taken on the newly-created role of Global Program Manager for Inclusive Recruitment at WTW. The purpose of the role is to fully imbed our existing Inclusive Recruitment strategy and to come up with new initiatives and ideas to attract and hire more diverse talent.


Tell us about the WTW journey to developing a role dedicated to Inclusivity and Diversity and the purpose of the role?


WTW has always had a very strong focus on the importance of I&D within the business and has identified that, in order to continue delivering our commitments in this space, a role has been created within our recruitment function which is dedicated to I&D. For me, it shows just how serious WTW are about I&D and ensuring that all colleagues are supported and are able to bring their full selves to work every day.


Do you think companies are starting to evolve in their thinking and can you share an example of this?


Absolutely. Having worked in the insurance industry for the last 20 years, I have seen changes being made, although we still have a long way to go. What was once an environment which was severely lacking in diversity has become much more inclusive and this can only be a positive thing. I for one don’t want to work somewhere where everyone is the same and has similar ideas and outlooks. By having more diverse colleagues, we are fostering a much more exciting, creative and productive business.


What challenges do you still face in this recruitment space of D+I and how can we overcome them?


As an industry, we have come a long way, however there is so much more we can do to create inclusive working environments. Education and training are huge factors here and the more we are able to talk openly and honestly about the challenges which we still face, the easier they will be to overcome. I also think that businesses can do a lot to work together and create a more inclusive industry as a whole.

Perhaps you can share why WTW is participating in the returner programme?


WTW recognises the wealth of talent there is amongst returners and the huge benefit they can bring to the business. Returners can bring extremely valuable skill sets and different perspectives to a team and contribute massively to their success.


You mentioned a small career break yourself – what did you do during your career break? 


I took a career break of around 9 months in 2019 in order to reassess what I wanted to do and where I wanted my career to go. I felt as though I has sat in the ‘comfy seat’ for too long and needed a new challenge. During my break I had a much-needed rest and also spent time focusing on myself and my priorities – pilates and running also played a very big part in this! It also enabled me to have a bit of breathing space and spend some really valuable time with friends and family.


How did you return to work and into which role?


When I started thinking about returning to work, I knew it had to be at the right time for me. Finding the right role was also crucial – I didn’t want to undo all of the good work I had done! One of my priorities was to work more locally and not to have such a long commute as I had previously. I also wanted to work in an environment where I would be supported and could develop my career. The role I returned to was as an Underwriter (something I had done for many years) but in a different area to my previous role. This enabled me to use my skills but also do something which wasn’t identical to what I had done before.   


Any advice for others looking to return to work?


Don’t be concerned about what other people think about having taken a career break. I was very nervous about how others would perceive me taking time out, however it was only ever viewed positively. Whatever the reason for the break it should never be an issue and if you come across an employer who thinks it is, they aren’t the right fit for you! Returning to work is never easy, however I found it to be an extremely positive experience and has enabled me to take my career in a completely different direction and find a role which I love!


The Insurance Industry is an industry Inclusivity has worked with for some time and we have excellent connections with the UK’s top employers. If you are on a career break seeking to return to this industry we urge you to submit your C.V to us here. Or view all opportunities here, all candidates we place will receive our unique 1:1 coaching and on-going support to ensure your transition back to work with confidence.

Emma's Return to Work Journey

We sat down with the lovely Emma Craddock, to chat to her about her experience with taking a career break and returning to work on a returner programme.


Name: Emma Craddock

Career break: 3 years

Company placed into: Chaucer Group

New role: Property Portfolio Manager


Tell us about you before your career break?

Pre career break I was working managing the analytics relationship between JLT Specialty and JLT Re.  I had been working for various reinsurance brokers for almost 15 years in various analytical and catastrophe modelling roles. At the time I had 3 young children who at the time of leaving JLT were 2, 5 and 6.   I really enjoyed the variety of my role. I was working 3 days a week so I was very lucky to have a part time role, but I found that the days were so long that the children were in bed or just getting into bed by the time I got home so didn’t really see them 3 days a week.


“I just wanted to spend a bit of time enjoying being around the children more before my youngest started school”.


What did you do during your career break ? 

A friend who knew I loved my spreadsheets (excel) recommended me to a nursery and so I started working at the nursery for half a day a week helping out as their finance manager.

I really enjoyed the work and I decided to study the book keeping exams which I felt would be a really interesting course but may also be a useful qualification to have if I decided not to return to insurance.  I spent the next year and a half working at the nursery, studying and enjoying the extra time with the children without having to juggle childcare. I then qualified from my course and just as I was thinking about my next move, a role can up for a book keeper at a golf club nearby.

Originally the role was for just 6 months as they migrated all their accounts and membership records onto a new platform and it seemed a perfect opportunity to return to work and utilise my new skills.

Covid hit 6 months into the role and they asked me to stay on to help manage all the challenges that covid threw at small businesses. I also hoped that the effect of covid and shift to home working might mean that working from home a few days a week might be an option. I decided to look at a contracting role originally as I wanted to be certain that I was ready to go back into insurance before I committed to a permanent role.


Emma adds “Whilst I got a number of interviews, the what was by now a 3 year gap, meant that I lost out each time to someone with much more recent experience.”


How did you hear about the insurance returners programme?

A school friend mentioned the returners programme one day to me whilst we were out for a walk.  She had seen an advert for the returner programme and thought of me as she knew I was struggling to get back into the industry.  The returner programme came along at just the right time for me.

How was the experience going through the returner programme – from interviews with Inclusivity all the way through to the six months?

My initial interview with Inclusivity was with Stephanie and it was brilliant.  It was amazing having someone to speak to, who was really positive about my career to date and all the decisions I had made.  At a time when I was beginning to doubt I was ever going to be able to return to insurance she was able to provide a huge moral boost and give me confidence that I would find something.

Chaucer was the first company who interviewed me and again they seemed genuinely interested in my experience to date and seemed really excited about what I could bring to their team.  I had a total of two interviews with them and was delighted to be offer a placement with them.

Tell us about your offer….

In January this year after being at Chaucer for 4 months I was offered the role of property portfolio manager and a permanent contract.  One of the teams this was managing was the treaty team I had been working within for the previous couple of months.  I was delighted to accept the offer and the transition to the role was made much easier by the fact I knew the team well having worked with them for a couple of months.  The new role is still 4 days a week and so I feel I have a really good balance of being at home and in the office.  I am able to be flexible on the number of days I come into the office which has meant the transition feel so much easier.

Any advice for others?

It doesn’t do any harm to start the process and find out what your options are.  I personally found that I had so many questions and hurdles in my mind for reasons why it wouldn’t work for me, but once I began to talk to people and talked through the possible roles everything slowly began to slot into place.  For me my main hurdle was working out how my return would work for our family and the day to day logistics.  It wasn’t until I had been offered a role and was beginning to discuss days / hours that I was able to see how I could make it work.


Insurance is an industry Inclusivity has worked with for some time and we have excellent connections with the UK’s top employers. If you are on a career break seeking to return to this industry we urge you to submit your C.V to us here. Or view all opportunities here, all candidates we place will receive our unique 1:1 coaching and on-going support to ensure your transition back to work with confidence.


We will keep you posted on Emma’s return to work journey.

We’re delighted to partner with Zurich Insurance UK, supporting people return to work in the insurance industry after career breaks.

Returning to work with Zurich and Inclusivity


Zurich and Inclusivity both believe having a diverse range of employees leads to diversity of experience and thought, which ultimately benefits our business and our customers.

Zurich is committed to having a workforce that truly represents the communities in which we operate and encourage applicants from all backgrounds and cultures. Diversity, however, means so much more than that and we’re delighted to partner with Zurich Insurance UK, who acknowledge and support people returning to work after career breaks.

Returning to Work after an extended Career Break


While caring for young children is the number one reason for taking a career break, there are many reasons why people take time out from the workplace – and returning can be a daunting experience. Whatever the reason for the break, these returners often have the skills and experience we’re looking for and would be a great asset to to many businesses.

We’re confident that our partnership with Zurich Insurance UK will help us give returners the confidence to take that first step back into the world of work and have a long and fulfilling career.

Don’t just take our word for it though, Suma Selvakumaravel joined Zurich as a Senior Business Analyst in February this year, after a 10-year career break. Read her story of how the returners programme with Inclusivity helped her land this role .


Suma Selvakumaravel, Senior Business Analyst

“Returning to work was always on the cards, however I did not take any steps to progress this until a few years ago. It was during the pandemic, that I really started to lose my sense of self. I’ve always thrived in the work environment, and it was important to me to return to work to get my confidence and identity back.” Continue reading here

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If you’re looking at returning to work after an absence of 18 months or more, why not register on our website. There are a variety of roles available across all aspects of the insurance industry and we will guide and support you through every step of the application process.


Returnships or Return to Work Programmes


Specialist organisations, like ourselves match returners with organisations who recognise the value they have to offer and who are ready to provide a supported transition back to a permanent role.

Typically, a return to work programme offers a six month fixed term contract, along with a tailored onboarding and induction process, a buddy and mentor from within the organisation and one-to-one specialist coaching. Candidates usually begin work as a small cohort, with four or more people starting at the same time.

For more information or advice contact us here


Elspeth’s return to Insurance

Elspeth Fairgrieve is a qualified lawyer who had taken a five year career break for health reasons.  She had taken a role working for a charity but had begun to think about returning to her career as a lawyer when she saw an advert for the Cross Sector Insurance Returner programme.

We spoke to Elspeth about her experience and also to Stephanie Scrimgeour, of The Phoenix Group, where Elspeth now works.


How did you find the application process?……

Read more

How Returner Programmes Help Women Back into Work

Kristin returned to London from Hong Kong newly divorced, with three children and a five year career gap on her CV.  In Nerina’s case, it was seventeen years since she’d worked as a banker.  Elspeth had to leave her role at an insurance company for ill health reasons and was now working part time for a Scottish charity.

All these women came from very different backgrounds.  What they had in common was a desire to get their professional careers back on track.

Two Types of Barrier…..

Read more

One Path Back to a Fulfilling Career

By Lisa Unwin Partner of Inclusivity Partners and Co-founder of Reignite Academy.

How returner programmes create opportunities for women to reboot careers in mid-life

Kristin returned to London from Hong Kong newly divorced, with three children and a five year career gap on her CV.  In Nerina’s case, it was seventeen years since she’d worked as a banker, spending much of the intervening years working for NGOs.  Elspeth had to leave her role at an insurance company for ill health reasons and was now working part time for a Scottish charity.  Susan had stepped away completely to focus on her son who had special educational needs.

Lawyer, banker, insurance professional, engineer:  all these women came from very different backgrounds.  What they had in common was a desire to get their professional careers back on track.  Why?  A mix of reasons.  Changing circumstances meant they had more time, a drive to earn more money, a desire to be a role model to their children.  Above all a feeling that they had unfulfilled potential: that there was more to come in their professional lives. 

Two Types of Barrier…

Read more

(and things to consider next time!)

Returner programmes are becoming increasingly popular. Rightly so when one considers the enormous amount of talent estimated to be ready to reignite their career yet lacking in ways to access employment. PWC’s 2016 report titled the £1billion potential of Women Returners highlighted that a suspected 427,000 highly qualified women are currently on career breaks and ready to return. More and more companies are putting in place Returner programmes which is heartening to see but feedback from participants is that not all are set up for success.

Read more