Setting yourself up to succeed

Return to workOnce you’ve decided it’s time to get back into the workplace, it can be tempting to jump straight into job hunting. However, it’s worth taking the time to put a few things in place that will make the process easier – and improve your odds of finding the right flexible role to return to.

Here are our top five tips for setting yourself up to succeed.

1)  Set aside some time – and stick to it

Finding a job won’t happen by accident, and nor will it happen overnight. You need to carve out some time for job hunting, and then make sure you use it productively.

If you’ve been caring for a child or a relative, you may have got into the habit of putting your own needs last. So have a look at your regular to-do list, and see where you can create some space for yourself. Can you outsource any tasks, such as cleaning? Could you arrange a regular playdate swap to give yourself a clear afternoon?

Enlisting your family’s help is a good place to start. Explain what you need to do and why, and ask them to help fill in the gaps. They can also help you stick to your plans.

2)  Treat it like a project

If you were working on a project in your previous job, the chances are you’d plan it out carefully, setting yourself meaningful targets and milestones. Taking the same approach to job hunting will be similarly effective.

  • Set yourself a goal. Make it realistic, and give yourself a time frame by which you’re aiming to achieve it.
  • Break it down into manageable chunks. Put some clear actions at each stage, with deadlines.
  • Get to work on your actions. This bit is easy to put off, but the sooner you start, the easier you’ll find it to continue.
  • Monitor your progress. Keep an eye on whether you’re on track. If you’re not, you might need to allocate some extra time. If you are, keep going!

3)  Develop the right mindset 

It may take a little while to find the right job, so you’ll need to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. Try and develop a realistic but positive attitude; accept that there may be setbacks along the way but that it’s worth persevering. Your friends and family can help cheer you on, so ask them for encouragement if you feel like you’re flagging.

Taking care of yourself physically will also help, so try to make sure you eat well, get enough sleep and fit in some exercise.

4)  Start looking into childcare or social care

It may take some time to find the right kind of support for any caring responsibilities you have, so it’s definitely worth exploring your options early on.

For example, if you have children, do you have family who could help out, or friends who might be keen to share childcare? If you are caring for a relative, what community or private support is available? Knowing what’s out there, and what it might cost, is an important part of your groundwork.

5)  Work out what flexibility you need

Once you know what care options are available to you, you can also start scoping out what kind of flexible working might fit with your needs. For example, if you have children, would you need to be able to do pick-ups or drop-offs, for some or all of the week?

You may need to be flexible about your flexibility, but it’s worth having a wish-list, as well as an idea about what you could compromise on.

By following these steps, you’ll be well-placed to start looking for the right job to return to. And then the hard work really begins...

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