Sunday, January 27, 2013

The road back to work

 By Susan, a CareerMums member, NSW

I decided to put my middle management public sector career 'on ice' after I had my first daughter in 2004. I'd just finished post-grad studies, but wanted to take some time out after working for the past 20 years. With my second child approaching her second year, and 8 years out of the workforce behind me, I decided I would begin my search for work in earnest. My biggest concern was that I had left my re-entry too long; the longer I was out of work, the more de-skilled (and therefore less employable) I would become.

Feeling slightly daunted by the task, I had anticipated doors closing, numerous hurdles and barriers and a general apathy towards return-to-work mums. But I was pleasantly surprised. My initial research project revealed many resources to assist my return to work (e.g. blogs, websites, agencies who focus on mums back to work, media articles, social networking sites). I registered with as many sites with search options as I could find and kept sifting through the possible opportunities that landed in my in-box, with a view of eventually applying for the role that fitted my requirements.

With luck and good fortune, I found a role that suited my background and I believed I would make a strong candidate. On the plus side, it was two day a week job-share position with flexi-time. On the negative side,  the job classification was at the same level that I had began my public sector career in 1993!   But it was the first job that ticked all my boxes - and to my surprise I was offered the first job I applied for.

Whilst I am over qualified and generally under-employed, I view this role as my stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities in the future. The bonus is that my children get to enjoy the benefits of having me at home 3 days per week, and I have the benefit of being able to 'get my foot in the door', build on my work current experience, make new contacts and generally move forward again towards the career I always wanted.


  • Utilise any experience outside of paid employment to demonstrate reliability, flexibility, initiative, trustworthiness, etc. In particular, volunteer work or involvement in community activities can be used to cite examples of skills and attributes that suit the role being applied for.

  • Research and then research more; the internet is your job search friend and there are thousands of sites, articles and blogs dedicated to the topic of those who want return to work.

  • Familiarise yourself with the challenges and create strategies to tackle them. Enrol and register for email notifications that suit your criteria and the roles will come to you.
  • Make sure you have all your family responsibilities and obligations sorted out before you approach an employer (which daycare/preschool days, drop offs, pick ups, before and after school care, school holidays, sick days, etc.) so that if you're asked about your availability, you can be confident that you can advise accordingly.