Have you ever wondered how to return to work after an extended career break? Has it seemed like an impossible dream to step back into a corporate career if you’ve been at home looking after children, been made redundant or taken time off to care for a relative?
Virgin Money has wholeheartedly embraced a supported route back to work for a second year running with the Virgin Money 13 week ReCareer programme aimed at anyone who has been out of work for 18 months or more. Susan Mather, a stay at home mum for four years, can certainly testify following her successful application to the programme in 2017.
Before Susan was accepted on the programme she had been trying really hard to get back into the workplace. Even though she had been on a few interviews she had unfortunately always fallen at the final hurdle. Her feedback after these interviews had been good but there was a nagging doubt at the back of her mind the reason for her misfortune was due to the four year gap on her CV.
Prior to the break in her career she had been a Global IT Manager for an international IT company. When her daughter was around 20 months old the opportunity arose for her to take voluntary redundancy. At the time she felt her career hadn’t been the same since returning from maternity leave in a part time capacity so she relished the opportunity to walk away with a nice financial package, based on years of service.
Taking redundancy allowed her to spend some precious time with her daughter in her formative years. As everyone always comments ‘that’s time you can never get back’. Tragically, she also lost her mum after a prolonged illness so wanted to have time to care for her dad as they coped with their loss. On reflection, despite the subsequent struggle to reignite her career, it was definitely the right life choice for her and her family.
She became aware of the Virgin Money ReCareer programme having seen details of it on Inclusivity Partners LinkedIn company page. Fortuitously, Virgin Money was top of her list of companies she aspired to work for. In fact, she had been interviewed twice previously by them so when she saw the Recareer programme she felt like ‘all my Christmases had come at once’. She contacted Stephanie Dillon from Inclusivity Partners to see whether it was almost too good to be true.
She goes on to explain:
“I’d had my eye on other Returner programmes but they were always London based. No good for a lifelong Northerner.”
Whilst she didn’t have any preconceptions about the programme beforehand she loved it from the moment it started:
“It was the perfect step back into employment starting with a group of like-minded ladies trying to restart their careers whilst still trying to manage a family and a home. The coaching sessions with Jessica Chivers were just brilliant. Her expertise was invaluable in guiding us and reminding us what strong women we are and she gave us all courage that at times we probably didn’t think we had. Being able to air our issues in a closed environment was comforting and liberating. There were at various times tears and laughter from all of us. I have to add that I got lucky.”
“The 4 of us selected for the Programme quickly formed a close bond. We were never in competition with each other as we were placed in 4 very different areas of the business. This was also advantageous as we were able to learn about other business areas in general chat.”
Since leaving the programme Susan has never looked back. Initially her contract was extended for six months after the programme as she was working on a project that was due to go live at the end of May. It was great for her to be able to see that through to fruition. Part of the way through that contract she was offered a permanent role.
When asked about her experience she comments:
“I’ve been on a massive learning curve. Having been an IT manager previously I came into Virgin Money as a Senior Business Analyst and I’m now working in Information Governance and Assurance. I also have to say that I’ve had incredible support from my peers and from my management and my confidence in my own abilities continues to grow on a daily basis.”
When asked about the outcome of being on the ReCareer programme she replies:
“The overall result for me couldn’t have been any better. I have reignited my career in the company that I wanted to work for, working in the area I wanted to get into and working part time hours that still allows me to do the school runs most days. I love my new career and I’ve not said that about a job in over 20 years.”
Finally we asked her whether she would recommend the Virgin Money ReCareer programme. Her answer was emphatic:
“Absolutely I would. Anyone wanting to return to work after a break should do it this way. It’s most definitely the way forward in recruitment and not just for women. As for Virgin Money, it’s a great company to be part of. They are very supportive of flexible working and are mindful of maintaining a work/life balance.”
If you would like to learn more about the 2018 Virgin Money ReCareer programme and hopefully follow in Susan’s footsteps, please apply using this link https://inclusivity.co.uk/virgin-money-re-career-programme/