We recently hosted a live video talk on our Instagram account with sisters Ciara and Aoife Garvan of WorkJuggle.com. Together, they shared some insights about returning to work after taking time out. If you missed the Instagram Live, we’ve gathered some of the best tips from the talk designed to help you return to the world of work.
WorkJuggle‘s mission is to connect highly skilled professionals with family-friendly flexible/contract/remote work. It also helps organisations to become more inclusive through consulting and training. Ciara Garvan founded WorkJuggle in 2016, after she found herself spending one hour too many stuck on the M50 racing home to pick up her kids after work.
Her mission was to put candidates in the driving seats of their own careers. All the roles on WorkJuggle have some flexibility; be it either part-time, remote work or contract work, or even a mix of all three. The company is also strongly focused on keeping working parents in the workforce, which is why it primarily works with companies who offer family-friendly roles.
Returning to Work: Where to Start?
Returning to the workforce after an extended time away from it can be a very daunting prospect. As Ciara and Aoife put it, “you can feel very removed. It sort of feels like everybody’s gotten it all sorted and everybody you’ve ever worked with is now promoted, and you’re the only person who hasn’t a clue what it is you’re doing”.
Rest assured, you’re not alone, as this is a very common feeling that many of us have when returning to work. The good news is, there are steps you can take to overcome this feeling and regain your confidence. Below are some starting points Aoife and Ciara recommend.
Assess Your Career Values
When contemplating moving back into the workforce after an extended period away from it, a great place to start is to stand back and take stock about what it is you want from a career. As Ciara puts it:
“Really think about what is it you’re trying to do and what is important to you. Remember that these factors change. So what was important to you when you were 18 or 22 and first leaving school or college, is generally completely different to what will be important to you now. What’s important to you when you’re older and coming into your 30s, [if] you have children or you have responsibilities – your priorities shift. And that’s normal and okay.”
You can request a career value assessment worksheet from WorkJuggle by contacting them directly here.
Don’t Discount Your Time Out of the Workforce as Wasted
Ciara and Aoife note that often in the back-to-work workshops they’ve held, many participants have told them they took far longer periods away from work than they had originally intended, consequently leading them to experience confidence knock backs.
As well as assessing your future career goals, Ciara and Aoife recommend taking time to reflect on the time you’ve spent away from work in a positive light:
“Look at that time that you’ve spent away from the workplace, reframe the narrative in your mind of how you spent your time. Consider what you have been doing, what skills you have developed over your time away and how you can transfer them into a workplace setting. This exercise is very good for building confidence and helping you reframe how you have been spending the time out of the traditional workplace.”
Give Yourself the Time You Need to Job Hunt
Sometimes we tend to forget that job hunting can almost feel like a full-time job in itself. Organisation and consistency are key when on the job search:
“Where people can fall down is they don’t start with a plan in mind and they’ll just give the search a couple of hours every few weeks. But you really need to try and build a bit of momentum, be checking your career values list often, be tracking your applications and so on. It takes a level of dedication.”
CVs are Important, But So is Your LinkedIn Profile
If you’ve been out of work for a few years, you may not be aware of the importance and relevance of LinkedIn to a professional seeking work. Aoife and Ciara recommend keeping both as up to date as possible during (and after) your job search has ended.
If CV/LinkedIn profile writing is not your strong suit (and there are no judgements here!) there are companies out there who will do the task for you. The idea of self-promotion is difficult for a lot of people, so if writing your CV is what’s holding you back, definitely seek these services out.
More Returning to Work Tips
The above tips offer just a brief snapshot into the wealth of solid information and guidance that Ciara and Aoife provided during their talk. For in-depth CV writing tips and more, make sure to watch the whole talk via this link.
You can also find out more about Ciara, Aoife and WorkJuggle on their website. The company provides several work training workshops, including the Female Leaders Program and Re-Entry Workshops for Women Returners.