Relaunch Wisdom I Wish I'd Known Earlier

1) I'm a Better Hire Now.

I am not jaded. Helena Morrissey of Legal and General (famously with eight children and of the 30% Club for women on boards) says “female qualities such as emotional intelligence, working collaboratively and actually listening are going to be crucial to corporate success in the future”. All of these skills were sharpened in my knife set when I was at home with children. Frankly, I find being at work is easier. I have such a fresh vigour for my work. I am more circumspect. I am there to make a difference, not just to turn up and make a wage. I couldn’t have done the job I do now before I had time out with two small children, and undertaking a huge build project, volunteering and freelance work. Like an intricate mosaic, all of the different pieces have made me a better offering in the market.

2) I'm Not Dated and Out-of-Touch

It's easier than ever to feel dated - humans are becoming less valuable in so many sectors. It's reported that by 2030, robots will have replaced up to 800 million jobs. However, the flipside of the automation revolution is that the human workspace is becoming increasingly adaptable, and the philosophy of talent acquisition has become much more holistic. For returners, this means that your age and life experience can increasingly be added value.

"No longer does the world belong to the young: as statutory retirement age increases and with it the health and fitness of the older generation, business takes advantage of those with proven professional skills and commitment" according to the Brighton School Of Business Management.

What's more, we have access to increasingly accurate analytics and targeted learning materials, which enable us to really hone our approach. It's vital to understand your industry's trends, and the disruptors that affect them. Real-world experience gives you the wisdom to solve the problems robots will never be able to.

The prevalence of mega-successful industry disruptors (think Uber) has bred a climate of disruptive innovation, which idealises finding new approaches to old problems. From this point of view, the returner is often the perfect balance of professional nouse and real-world pragmatism. Time away is on your side. 

3) People and Politics do not Change, that Bit is the Same

I had six years out of full-time employment, but was fully engaged in all sorts of organisations, communities and with characters of all types. Therefore, I'm not distracted by office politics. I have no time to gossip or travel down rabbit holes of introspection with unhappy teammates. That is not to say that I won't have a laugh & some banter - I consider it to be one of the very best things about office life. I just stay away from the Kool Aid. I will offer well-researched arguments on points I disagree with, as frankly that is half my role as a mother (er, when I am not just trotting out “because I said so”).

Professional conflict is healthy, and the science backs this up

4) Most of the Relaunch is Mindset

It is about having a private reckoning with yourself about what your strengths are, what you love, what you did brilliantly before and facing fears head on. According to Carol Dweck, your brain actually grows when you are learning new things. It was important for me to tell myself “this is a journey, I am going to turn over stones every day to get to my destination, but get there I will. I don’t know what I don’t know and that is just fine. I’ve done this (got a job) before and I will do it again.

5) Fear is Our Friend

The faster I recognise it as a motivator, the faster I reach my goals. I wish I hadn’t let it hamstring me so much. The more I Iearn to live alongside fear, the more effective I am and the richer my life is because of it. I stopped making so many connections because I was worried about rejection, and now I am back on the other side, I see rejection is an illusion. If I'd ended up with the first guy that didn't dump me... sheesh... it just doesn't bear thinking about!

Transform Your Fears Into Career Impetus

6) People Want to Help you

I wrote before about a former employee who said that the moment she bonded with me was when I completely admitted my failings and asked for help. People want to help, they like feeling like experts. This week I was speaking to a very senior partner at work. He has pretty much done everything there is to achieve in our organisation and he is a powerful guy. One of his favourite things is to mentor “newbies”. He says it helps him too. Ask EVERYONE for help. Be vulnerable because it disarms. And, when you get to the interview, remember people are spending time with you because they want you to do well, get hired and solve their problems.

As Jennifer Winter at Muse writes
While managers appreciate dedication and diligence, we loathe inefficiency . If your boss sees you beating yourself up over something, she’s more likely to be thinking, “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” rather than view you as an industrious and dedicated employee.

7) Everyone has Pain Points 

Especially hiring managers. The minute you understand what they are and how you can help, the minute you have your angle back into employment. The chances are that your EQ is highly developed by now. If you can harness a good line of enquiry with a hiring manager or anyone in your target industry, you can start to understand how to brand yourself: as the solution to those problems. That is when you have a deal. Once I had studied my current organisation's set up I could then research the specific skills required for recruiting into it (diplomacy, stakeholder management, ability to challenge). I demonstrated through past examples, even though they weren’t in the very near past, of how I had handled similar.  Then I became part of the solution. HIRED.

8) There is an Entire Living, Breathing Relauncher industry

Dedicated to career relaunchers and women looking for work after a career gap. Google “relaunch” and see what you get. Personal branding advice, CV advice, LinkedIn advice, internships, volunteerships, networking, everything! Join some Facebook groups and start to gather information. Listen to the 321 iRelaunch podcast. I so wish I had found it instead of trying to re-invent the “overcoming a career gap” wheel. 

9) Have Lots of Work War Stories 

...ready to trot out. These will talk of a situation you found yourself in (problem) what you did (competency) and what was the result (outcome). This highlights your strengths in practical ways and helps you be confident that you have what it takes, because you are speaking from the heart and experience. It also makes you relatable and memorable long after the interview has been done. People love stories!

10) Expect your Childcare to Work Out

I am a poster-child for failed childcare. Some days, I am shocked that my children still let me in the front door when I consider how many mistakes I made with this one. Children are resilient though, and as long as they know that you are the one providing the stability and routine they really will put up with the most chequered patchwork of arrangements. I love the term pronoia ("The strange, creeping feeling that everyone's out to help you"). You really do need to expect a good outcome on this, even if it is a little trial and error. I now have the best setup I ever have but I won't collapse if it falls apart again, and because I am confident about it, the kids will pick up on my calm cues and follow suit.

11) Being On the Other Side is Fun 

You will look back (if you're like me) and think 'why did I worry about getting back into work so much'? If so, why not download my Am I Ready for Work questionnaire. Ask yourself the questions when you have some time and space to really reflect, then you will know for sure if it is the time for you to get back into the market.....

....OR NOT.  

12) It Doesn't Matter If You Change Your Mind

Say I had got back out there, interviewing and even starting  a job and only then discovered that I just wasn't ready. I would have just come up with a Plan C. That’s fine too.

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