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4 things to help when you’re looking for a new job after parental leave…

4 things to help when you’re looking for a new job after parental leave…

Looking for a new job after parental leave? It’s not the easiest transition for many of us. You’re in the trenches of getting reacquainted with who you are, the value you bring and often on dodgy sleep. But, it’s totally possible to feel empowered and excited about the newest chapter you’re shaping.

Is the idea of looking for a new job after parental leave is giving you overwhelm? Perhaps questioning what you’re good at? Or maybe you know you’re sh*t hot at so much stuff you don’t know where to start? (it can happen). Then this post is for you.

Let’s start from the beginning…

1. Identifying your strengths

When you’re looking for a new job after parental leave is going to be a sharp focus on your strengths. This is all about helping you get to know yourself again. It’s an important step when you’re figuring out what you’d love to do – or if you need to shake the narrative of having ‘lost your confidence’ (that’s a whole post by itself though).

The big caveat here is that we’re not looking at your skills and competencies. It’s your natural strengths that leave you feeling energised. There’s a difference – and that difference might be your engagement and wellbeing.

Let me ask you a few questions to get you started:

  1. When you have a list of things to do, what do you pick first?
  2. What is it about those things that you’re drawn to?
  3. What keeps your focus and attention?
  4. When have you picked things up really quickly?

The answers to these kinds of questions can bring you some initial insight into your strengths. You can read a bit more about why in a previous post here or this blog from Strengthscope®.

You might need to repeat the questions and they’re not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to begin. If a psychometric is more your thing and you’ve got some budget Strengthscope® would always be my first choice. If you want something a bit more accessible, the Marcus Buckingham Standout Tool is currently free (at the time of writing, March 2023) and don’t be fooled by the lack of price tag, it brings some brilliant insights.

Why does it help?

Working in line with your strengths as much as possible will support your overall wellbeing, performance and engagement. And when you’re looking for a new job after parental leave, you’re going to want in on some of that.

We’ve been taught for a long time to search based on your skills and training. That might throw up a heap of roles that don’t interest you even though you could ‘do’ them. Sure, you might have the competencies to deliver, but are you going to actually enjoy the job?

The two can co-exist of course. There’s a sweet spot where the two align (i.e. you’re skilled in something that engages you!). Start with this definition of strengths first and see where you end up…

2. Look at your experiences

Your career history hasn’t been erased and you’ve continued to develop since becoming a parent. Sure, it might feel like you’re wading through that negative narrative that tells you the inverse of those things, but we have to look at our self-belief and get reconnected with our brilliance.

This step is going to combine a bit of strengths-esq reflections along with gathering your thoughts on your skills and experiences. Start off by reflecting on:

  1. What have you loved doing?
  2. Where have you added value?
  3. Any specialist knowledge you can share?
  4. What do others come to you for? (and that you enjoy)

Why does it help?

When you’re looking for a new role after parental leave it can feel like there’s a metaphorical chasm between your experiences. There are people in this world who would have you believe that you’ve now got a whopping great big gap on your CV – I am not one of those people, and I’m not alone.

Reconnecting with what you’ve delivered, the experiences you can bring and the value you deliver in the workplace is going to set you up with a boost right from day one of job hunting.

And the bonus is this approach will help you naturally create some stories and anecdotes ready for you to shine in an interview too.

3. Explore your network

Hit up your LinkedIn contacts, people you’ve worked with who are at new companies, specialist recruiters or people you’d like to engage with and drop some catch up messages. I know I know, this gives many of us the ‘ice’ but what I’ve seen over the last few years is that most people want to help.

It may not always lead to something tangible and it really could be just a nice catch up, but when you’re in that transition period of looking for a new job after parental leave, that need for connection to others is front and centre.

Why does it help?

According to LinkedIn, 85% of jobs are filled through your network rather than more formal channels. That opens up a huge topic for me tbh, but that’s a post for another day.

For the purpose of finding your next role after parental leave though, this point is about how important connection is.

Be clear on what you’re wanting to chat about (that doesn’t mean you need to know what you want next!). You don’t need to be bluntly asking for a job (unless you want to of course). Re-connecting with people, getting hooked into industry updates and figuring out what’s out there can be really important.

4. What are your non- negotiables?

Might be things like salary, overall package, working pattern, industry, type of company…you name it, because it’s yours!

What your negotiables are too – what’s on the list of stuff that’s less important?

I hear so many worries from parents looking for a new job after parental leave. They feel like – and I quote – ‘starting from scratch’ somewhere new. It can therefore feel like they don’t have the currency they had at their previous employer. But here’s the thing: you’re a cracking human being. You add heaps to the workplace, and the workforce is losing talent (who happen to be parents) left, right and centre.

If you head into a new organisation feeling like someone is doing you a favour or you’re unsure of your needs that need to be met to ensure you show up as your whole self – it’s a set up for disengagement and resentment.

Why does it help?

Joining a new company wants to (ideally) be a two way thing. Whilst it’s not always an option, it’s certainly something we want to be aiming for.

Being clear with yourself (as well as future employers) has the potential to set everybody up for success. Don’t short change yourself!

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