Returning to work after having children is a daunting prospect, especially if you have been a stay-at-home mum for a few years.

Following on from last month’s article Should I return to work?, here are some thoughts on what to do if your answer is yes.

Update yourself

How long you have been out of the workplace for makes a big impact on what your next move should be.

If you have been out of work for a prolonged period, you will need to re-learn the recruitment market as well as update your skills – there have been a lot of changes in the last few years.

The good news is, job site Adzuna recently reported that Guildford is second best place in the UK to be a job seeker, with an average of four vacancies available for every person looking for work.

If money is not the main driver, voluntary work can be a great way of easing yourself gently back into the working world. There are many voluntary opportunities around, whether they be at a charity shop, National Trust property or within the Educational or Public sector. These sorts of roles are a great way of trying work that you have never done before.

Assess your skills

Think about what your experiences and qualifications (professional and domestic) have trained you for. Although part-time jobs are very competitive, do not underestimate your value. Many employers know that they are extremely lucky in gaining a highly skilled employee who is really happy to be back at work, and will work ceaselessly to keep the job that fits their lifestyle. In addition to this, many highly qualified and experienced mums undervalue themselves and an employer will gain somebody at a far higher level than they dared hope for, at a better rate.

Many of the skills you have practiced whilst being a stay-at-home mum will be invaluable, but some translation will be really helpful in demonstrating these to a future employer. For instance: with multiple children and all of their activities to manage, you have probably become highly skilled at time management; if you have moved house, or country, your logistics skills will be well honed; if you have sat on a school, pre-school or club committee, your administration and communications skills will have been well exercised.

No matter what you decide, this is a step-by-step guide to sourcing your next job:

1) Start looking at job sites and local papers. If you are thinking of changing direction, consider types of job that you would enjoy, be good at, and would fit with your plans.

If you are looking for part-time roles there are specific agencies and sites devoted to them.

2) Look into childcare costs and arrangements, if necessary.

3) Research how the employment market works in the industry you are targeting.  Increasingly, in some areas, roles are filled from personal or corporate networks, and may never be advertised publicly.

4) Start actively networking.  Are you a member of Linkedin? Could you join any online forums for your skill area or career aspirations?

5) Think about any re-training or up-skilling.  If you are returning to your previous career, you might need a refresher course – contact your local adult education provider as a starting point. If you are looking to move into a new area, gaining a professional qualification will help your confidence as well as demonstrate your commitment to this new direction.

6) Prepare a master CV – this should cover everything – and may be as long as you like. Don’t forget to include all of your experiences, thinking carefully about how the skills you have gained could translate into the requirements for the roles you are considering.

7) Adapt your master CV for each and every job that you apply for – covering no more than 2 sides of A4.

8) Prepare a covering letter.  Although most applications are done online, this wording can be sent in the body of the email or as an attachment in the form of a formal letter.

This article was written by Abby Cox and Alison Christiansen of Evolution Careers Ltd. If you are thinking about returning to work and would like some guidance tailored to your individual needs, do get in touch.