Rebuilding confidence after a spell out of the workplace

I dropped out of work during the pandemic due to illness, but the cost-of-living crisis means I have to get back. My confidence has really gone, and I feel more anxious in the wake of the pandemic. Also, realistically I can only work part time due to ongoing health issues, but there are few part-time roles advertised in my industry. How can I best build my confidence and argue the case for part-time roles?

Alarm clock on top of blocks saying full time and part time


It’s very important to look after your wellbeing, prioritising what is needed to maintain your energy levels while dealing with the myriad of challenges the cost-of-living and new ways of working brings without anxiety or loss of focus. Be kind to yourself, understand what tasks give you energy and which drain your energy and look after your personal resilience. Here are a few tips to help you feel less anxious and build confidence.

  • Connect to others for support and know where to get their energy boosters from
  • Set goals and complete actions
  • Decision Anxiety – focus on decisions being good enough, few decisions are permanent
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes it gives you a chance to learn
  • Learn to be optimistic and let go of negativity
  • Maintain Perspective – write it down and keep a stress diary
  • Think “can do” and encourage can do thinking in others (no blame but with accountability)
  • Practice being straight forward and learn to say ‘no’ when you can
  • Exercise self-care and self-compassion
  • Teach yourself to relax slow down and take a breath
  • Go easy on yourself – accept you don’t have to be perfect

In order to build your confidence to help land a new role, it’s important to understand what motivates you, play to your strengths and recognise what you’re good at. Surround yourself with positive people and build positive relationships.

Research companies who advertise part time roles and job shares. Here’s a previous article on how to negotiate a job share I wrote for Working Wise.

To find out who is hiring for part-time roles, either search for companies directly or find recruitment agencies who specialise in part-time roles and register with them. You might find the roles are in different sectors to the ones you’ve previously worked in; but if you’re looking for a role in the same sector, ask your network who they recommend. If you’re wanting/needing to change sector, think about your transferrable skills and how you can use these in a new sector.

When it comes to landing a part-time role, it starts with you and the hours you want to work. Once you’ve updated your self-marketing strategy, reach out to your network and ask who knows about a part-time position that would suit you. Even if no one in your network knows about roles they may know someone who is looking for part-time employees.

It’s important not to give up on your search – be dedicated; applying for a part-time position takes the same time and effort as applying for a full-time position. You may have to apply to several positions before you’re successful. Diligence and perseverance in your job search can be an effective way of attaining the position you want.

Do also remember to take time out to re-energise and distract yourself with things you enjoy and things that give you energy such as:

  • Reading
  • Exercise
  • Relaxation
  • Learning new skills
  • Going for a walk
  • Being creative
  • Spending time with your family or pets
  • Meditation
  • Good quality sleep
  • Eat well
  • Have fun and laugh

If finding part-time work is taking longer than you expected, consider looking for a short-term position. Short-term positions can last for several weeks or even a few months. Sometimes short-term positions can become permanent positions if the company is satisfied with your performance and a permanent position becomes available.

To argue the case for a part-time role, offer a solution to a problem and say why you’d be perfect for the job. It’s important the company sees the benefits so that it’s a win-win for you both. You need to prove you’re invaluable and focus on results and what you can bring; present a solid plan.

Good luck!

*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit

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