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The first day of the Women Returners conference focused on advice and discussions on returner programmes and experiences.
What helps people who have taken a break return to their careers? The first day of the annual Women Returners conference included lots of useful advice and discussions with employers as well as returners.
Karen Danker, Head of Coaching at Women Returners, advised women to focus first on the why and what of their return before looking at the how. The why could embrace anything from financial need and a desire for mental stimulation to the need to regain a person’s professional identity, to satisfy unfulfilled ambition or be on an equal footing with a partner.
When it comes to the what Danker said it is important to start with what kind of job might fulfil you, meet your core strengths and values and play to your interests. She added that women often underplay their strengths and advised them to think laterally about the aspects of past jobs and other experiences that had interested them.
Danker then looked at what she called the ‘trade off triangle’ between a fulfilling job, flexibility and the level/pay that a returner might seek. She advised women not to be too rigid about flexibility and said considerations about pay could embrace not just the return salary, but the salary a returner might aspire to and whether a role allowed them to build towards that.
All of the above helps narrow returners’ options to a manageable number of job possibilities. Next came the how. Danker, a returner herself, advised thinking outside the box, for instance, building your Linkedin profile and/or reconnecting with dormant contacts from previous jobs who are often happy to help. She said it is important for returners to tell their story clearly, build their support group, use their networks, look at taking up work or volunteering opportunities and create their own lucky breaks by getting out and talking to as many people as possible.