Seven tips to help you return to work

7 ways to return to work

Whether you want to return to a similar flexible role, or totally change direction, there are a range of job hunting options available to you. Here are some suggestions.

(1) Personal networking

Networking is a brilliant way to find out what jobs are out there. Some people find the concept daunting. But at its simplest level, it involves being open about wanting to get back to work, and talking to anyone you know who might be able to help.

So spread the word to your friends and family that you;re looking for a flexible job. Drop it into your chats at the school gates, social events or any other activities you’re taking part in. You just never know who the person you’re talking to might know, or what opportunities they may be aware of.

(2) Professional networking

You should also consider putting feelers out to former colleagues, clients or suppliers. Who have you worked well with in the past, who might be able to help you find your next opportunity? Remember it’s not just about what they  can offer, but also about who else they could connect you with.

LinkedIn is a brilliant resource for professional networking. It allows you to upload your CV, describe your experience and skills, and post recommendations from colleagues and clients. If you don’t currently have a profile, that should be your next task.

(3) Jobs boards and recruitment agencies

Some jobs boards and recruiters are better at accommodating returners and flexible workers than others.

Our job search page is a great place to start, as we only advertise flexible and part-time roles from employers who would be happy to consider returners. But if you’re thinking of signing up to other agencies or jobs boards, it’s worth digging into whether they support returner applications.

(4) Programme alerts

If you’re interested in applying for a formal returner programme, sign up to the Timewise Jobs Returners Register. This will give you early warning of any new ones that become available. All you have to do is answer a few quick questions, then we’ll make sure you hear about programmes which suit your needs, location and experience.

(5) Government supported schemes

The government has created a range of schemes to support people back into the workplace. For example:

  • Return-to-practice programmes like Get Into Teaching or Come Back (for nurses). These are sector-specific and aimed at people who want to come back into their previous profession. They usually offer an element of retraining and skills refreshing, and are sometimes funded.
  • Apprenticeships are being offered more widely following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017. They offer a real opportunity to retrain whilst working, and some are being offered at more senior levels. You can see what’s available via the find an apprenticeship service
  • (6) Volunteering and work experience

    Strategic volunteering can help your job search. It's a way to pick up new skills, dip your toe back into the workplace, expand your network and boost your confidence. And there is always the possibility that it might lead to a permanent, paid role.

So firstly, have a think about what skills you might need to support your longer term career plans. Then consider what kind of position might help you develop them. Once that’s clear, try these next steps:

  • Approach local organisations which match your areas of interest, and ask if you can work for them on a voluntary or work experience basis.
  • Seek out opportunities through organisations such as Do-it or TimeBank.
  • You can also search for senior level volunteer posts through organisations like Trustees Unlimited.

(7) Speculative applications

Some people don’t see the point in sending out speculative applications. But in our experience, it’s a great way to show a company you’d like to work for that you’re proactive and enthusiastic. And it can help make sure you’re at the top of their list when a suitable role comes up.

Here’s a quick guide to applying speculatively:

  • Research any employers you are interested in contacting. Find out whether they support flexible working, for example. And make sure the reasons you give for writing to them chime with their vision and strategy.
  • Avoid a scattergun approach. Target your applications to companies which have potential, and craft a separate application for each.
  • Make sure you know who to write to. Don’t use Dear Sir/Madam, or waste your time writing to someone who has already moved on.
  • Follow up on your approaches. They’re more likely to remember you, and take your application seriously, if you call and ask to discuss your letter and CV after a week or so.

Happy hunting!

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