Kristina Christie talks about reigniting her career after a break
I took an extended career break from banking so I could focus on my family life. Once my children were in full time education I began exploring my options with a view to going back to work. In my own mind, banking was not really a possibility, as I felt that my experience may no longer be relevant, and that prospective employers would not consider someone with a long gap on their CV.
I started my search by looking locally and secured a role as a caseworker for a local MP, who was also a cabinet minister. The role was both exciting and challenging and, after an initial settling in period, I was soon back in the swing of working again. As my confidence grew, it dawned on me that perhaps picking up my original banking career wasn't impossible after all!
During my research into potential roles in banking, I stumbled upon an ad for Lloyds Banking Group's Returners Programme, which specifically aims to attract candidates who have taken a career break. This sounded perfect. Returner Programmes are increasing in popularity, and are designed for people who’ve been out of the workforce for 3 years or more to help get them back up to speed with latest thinking and practices in their specialist areas. They’re commonly 10 – 12 weeks in duration and usually lead to permanent employment for strong, suitable candidates.
In Lloyds’ case, when I applied, it was the first time they were running a Returners Programme and I wasn’t sure how far I was going to get in the process as it is very competitive. In fact, there were over 200 applicants for only 15 placements.
The programme lasted 10 weeks and I was placed in the Repo Change Management team, which was my focus area when I had previously worked in banking. The cohort of returners were treated like VIPs during the programme, as we attended seminars with the senior management team, had leadership training and took part in shadowing sessions with key stakeholders.
What happened next
My line manager was a very keen advocate of Returner Programmes and he helped me get back up to speed and find my feet. In fact, at the end of the 10 weeks, I was not only offered a permanent role, but was also promoted to run the team.
One year on and Lloyds’ Agile Working policy allows me to work flexibly with one day working from home and, more often than not, I’m home in time to see my children. I can also make school events or other parental commitments. After an extended career break, I was surprised how little had changed in real terms at work and how quickly I adjusted to my new routine. The marked difference for me is the flexibility available now, which allows me to play an active role at home as well as in the workplace.