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5 Musts for Women Returning to the Workforce

Making choices when returning to work


Returning to the workforce after maternity leave or several years of raising a family can be a daunting prospect for any woman. External barriers and an ever-present internal voice can combine to leave you wondering whether it’s all worth it.

Will I still be valued at work? Are my skills still relevant? How can I afford child care? I can’t stay back any more and do the long hours. How will that affect my reputation? My partner is supportive but managing the logistics will be a nightmare. And on it goes.

The issues are similar for all women returning to the workforce. Fortunately though, so are the solutions. Once you have a plan in place, the doubts will often disappear.

Time for new options?

The first thing to consider is what form of work you want to undertake. Traditional paid employment works well for some people, and that’s fine if it suits you. Given your new circumstances, it is well worth considering some new options as well.

If it’s set up carefully, running your own business could be the answer. As long as you don’t get caught in the trap of letting it consume your whole life, an enterprise of your own could overcome some of the barriers to returning to work. There’s a whole range of possibilities, including:

  • Home business
  • Franchise
  • Hobby business
  • Contracting or temping

Each of these has its own pros and cons in terms of income, time required, flexibility, and freedom to choose your own hours. We’ll talk about these in another blog post.

The how

If your preference is for paid employment, you’ll need to:

  • Consider the level you wish to re-enter the workforce at. Can you simply walk in and take back your old job? Will you need to accept a sideways position or even take a completely different role? The answers to these questions will depend on how long you’ve been away and the situation of your employer. Similarly, you may need to ask for less pay in exchange for fewer hours or more flexibility.
  • Decide if this an opportunity for career change. This could be the right time to follow a dream and do something completely different.
  • Think about possible retraining. If you’ve decided on a new career, you might be up for new university or vocational qualifications. You might also need higher qualifications after a long time away from work.
  • Polish up your CV. Explain the gap(s) and make it relevant to today’s requirements. If you’ve been out of the workforce for some time, it’s good practice to check with your recruitment consultant to make sure your CV is in good shape and in line with current formats.


Each of these suggestions is a topic on its own. We’ll look at each one in more detail in future posts.

Have you been down this path yourself? What advice can you offer your fellow travellers? We’d love to hear your views. Click on the links to join the conversation.



About the Author

Maria-Louise Allardyce is a specialist IT recruitment consultant. She has a reputation for applying and adapting her experience and knowledge across many different sectors. Also known for her strategic and pragmatic insight, Maria-Louise combines these attributes in exploring issues surrounding women in the workforce and women in technology.

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