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…..
Sadly, these women, and many like them, face two types of barriers.
The first are the ones they erect themselves. The stories that go round in their heads – sometimes spoken aloud – about how impossible this is. “The kids won’t cope without me”. “I’ve left it too long.”
The second are those put up by recruiters who just can’t see past a gap on someone’s CV.
Returnships: Recognising Value
Returnships take away both these barriers. Specialist organisations, like Inclusivity, 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.
What to Look for in a Returner Programme
Put yourself in the driving seat and get ready to ask some important questions to help you identify the best opportunities:
- How long is the programme? In our view, the best are six months, four at a minimum.
- What is the motivation behind the programme? You’re looking for an employer who wants to find great talent.
- What % of participants find a permanent position, if an organisation has done this before.
- If you find yourself in a team or department that doesn’t end up with a permanent position, will there be help to move to another area internally?
- What support do you provide during the programme? Is there a coach? Will you be part of a cohort?
- What training is given to line managers? Line managers are often “make or break”. You’re looking for a programme where some time is taken to train line managers in their role in the process.
How to Create a Successful Application
Most programmes will ask for a CV. A few tips.
- Read your CV for 6 seconds. Recent research showed that recruiters may scan a CV very briefly before deciding whether to give it the time of day. Your summary profile and what’s on the first page has to hit them hard.
- Hands Face Space. Just Do It. Think Mad Men rather than War and Peace. Your CV is a marketing document, there to get you an interview. What are the key messages that you want to convey? Tailor it for every job, check for typos, have someone else read it if necessary.
- Don’t feel the need to justify your career break. If what you did is relevant to the job, great. Describe it. If not, feel free to write “planned career break.”
- If they ask for a cover letter, don’t just repeat your CV. Write about why you’re keen, what excites you about the opportunity,
Be At the Net
Be ready for some inevitable questions.
- What are your salary expectations. You don’t have to have an exact figure but it’s well worth having a range and being able to discuss that with the recruiter. If a salary range isn’t advertised, do some research to find out what the market rate is for the job.
- What is your ideal working pattern. 4 days? All at once? Spread across the week? As well as asking the firm how much flexibility they have, what about you?
- How do you feel about remote working? Whilst working from home has its advantages, when it comes to developing new relationships, finding the right work and getting regular feedback does benefit from some time face to face.
- When could you start!
Our Ramboll Return to Work Programme is still open for applications
We also have plenty of other opportunities live which you can view here, all accompanied with our unique on-going support and 1:1 coaching to help make your transition back to work from a career break a confident and successful one.