An issue candidates come to me with again and again is the fact that they feel their job applications are automatically being put on the REJECT pile, simply due to the fact that they took a career break to have children. They feel that hiring managers can’t get the past the fact that they haven’t ‘worked’ in x number of years. My candidates are frustrated and dejected – they know that they still have so much to offer and yet they can’t seem to get a foot in the door.
Whilst there are definitely things you can do in the job search and job application process to help ensure your CV sticks out, there is a solution that will help you with that potentially worrying gap at the top of your CV, as well as help increase your confidence and skillset at the same time…
Today there are many volunteering options available which can help you to brush up some rusty skills and also hopefully acquire new ones. A very popular one for mums is volunteering on a pre-school committee or school PTA. These establishments are always crying out for help with organising events and they are also a great way to meet people.
Another option to consider is volunteering with a charity. I don’t just mean working in a charity shop (although this would certainly be an option if you have some retail experience!) but there are charities that are crying out for volunteers to help with a range of tasks and activities.
Over the summer holidays, I had the pleasure of visiting the Paperworks charity in Harrogate. They are a social enterprise with the aim of helping people with learning disabilities. Paperworks takes on work, such as information pack assembly, mailing services and packing services, and thereby provides their trainees with valuable skills useful in a workplace environment. It also increases their confidence and social skills to the bargain.
Although Paperworks do employ a certain number of people, the charity could not continue without the help of volunteers. Volunteers are needed in a variety of areas, from supporting the trainees on a 1:1 basis to more office based work including admin and even marketing and project work.
Each day, each week is different and filled with challenges and this is what would be so important for a returning parent: a friendly space in which to gain confidence and either remind yourself of the skills you have or else develop new ones!
It has been acknowledged that if you have the word ‘volunteer’ on your CV, it may just be the thing to give you the edge in the job market. It can make you stand out, it gives the potential employer an idea of the sort of person that you are and, who knows, a volunteer position can sometimes turn into a paid one!
Volunteering can bring deep personal satisfaction. You can see real changes come about as a result of your actions – whether it be directly with people you are helping, or perhaps you introduce new procedures to help streamline efficiency – making life easier for all.
Volunteering can be a great first step towards a new post-baby career. For more information on how to return to work after having children, please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial chat. For more information on volunteering with Paperworks, please email Lesley Watkinson at email@example.com.