The Elite Career Blog

The Seven Stages of Job Hunting: Returning to Work After Parental Leave

Jharna Hogan
Jharna Hogan
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December 21, 2021
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6 minute read
It's inevitable that our careers will change, as we navigate different stages of life.    This is a series about the opportunities to take advantage of, the pitfalls to avoid and the changing priorities to consider when planning and managing your career.  Welcome to Returning From Parental Leave

Welcome to Part Four: Returning to Work after Parental Leave

At Elite, we understand the complexity of feelings around returning to work after Parental Leave. There may be excitement about being around adults again, guilt at the thought of leaving your child, concern about being able to find a job to suit your circumstances – the feelings just keep on coming.
Several of our team members have children. We get it, and we’re here to help you navigate through this new season.

What are the most common opportunities available to people returning to work after parental leave?

Our experience connecting with hundreds of job seekers in this situation at Elite, has shown us that people returning to work after parental leave are often considering three common opportunities:

  1. Reinvention – taking that leap of faith and changing career entirely

If you weren’t vibing with your job before taking parental leave, the chances are that not much will have changed.
By now, you’ll likely have heard of ‘The Great Resignation’ – it’s the next big thing for 2022.
People everywhere are reassessing what’s important to them, what they want and need from their career, and choosing to pursue a career that’s more aligned with these needs. Our advice? Research, research, and more research.
What sparks joy for you? What are your non-negotiables – a particular salary, not working weekends, flexible arrangements to fit in around family responsibilities?
While we’re all for making bold career moves, it’s essential to take a measured approach and ensure that the move is right for you.

2. Adopting a change of pace – seeking the balance between career and family

Priorities often change after starting a family, and it’s common for people to choose to return to work in a part-time capacity or seek more flexible working arrangements that suit the needs of their family. Whether this is through job sharing, asking to work from home a couple of days a week, or working reduced hours, there are several avenues available to fit work in around your new family. Before you broach the topic with your employer, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities around flexible working arrangements – an excellent guide from Fair Work can be found here.

3. Hitting the accelerator – taking the next steps to advance your current career

After taking time off to focus on your family, you might be chomping at the bit to get back to work and start climbing that ladder again. While some may see parental leave as a break, anyone who has taken parental leave knows that it’s a whole new level of work - with a whole lot of love too, of course! The skills you’re using 24/7 as a parent only add to the suite of skills you have to offer an employer – patience, efficiency, multi-tasking, negotiating, delegation – the list goes on. If you feel the time is right to ramp up your career, go for it! Perhaps your next move might be to start a new qualification to level up your skills and secure that promotion, or finally apply for that management position?

What are the three most common challenges people might face when returning to work from parental leave?

  1. The parenting gap in your resume

You know the one – that glaringly obvious hole in your career timeline that you might awkwardly try to gloss over. Often, we will feel the need to try and hide the fact that we’ve had children when it should be celebrated!
From my perspective, becoming a parent has broadened my skill set in so many ways – I’ve got even more to offer an employer than I did previously. Knowing how to address the parenting gap in your resume will give you the power to use it to your advantage.
Check out our tips for addressing the parenting gap here.

2. Lack of Confidence

Becoming a parent can be an absolute rollercoaster of emotions, and sometimes your sense of self-confidence can take a real beating in the process. This is something I have experienced personally.
You’re not the same person you were before, but it’s important to remember that becoming a parent does not diminish your worth as an employee – it only enhances it!
Check out these great confidence-boosting tips for returning to work after parental leave

3. Parental Guilt

Since becoming a parent, no doubt you’ve become familiar with that at times all-consuming parental guilt.
Am I parenting right? Am I being judged for doing it that way? Am I doing the wrong thing going back to work? How will my child ever cope in daycare?
Returning to work after parental leave can bring up all of these questions and more, and chances are you might be feeling that familiar burden of guilt. If you are feeling this way, you’re not alone. Having worked with many parents preparing to return to work (as well as experiencing our own return to work journeys), we’ve found that parental guilt is an entirely normal part of the process. We’ve found some great coping strategies here.

Here’s our advice for making an informed decision about returning to work.

  1. Figure out what it is that you really want to do

It may seem obvious, but this can be the hardest thing to do. For me, deciding on my next move post-parental leave was a period fraught with self-doubt and overwhelm. I knew that I needed to make a career change due to COVID-19 impacting my industry, but I just had no idea where to begin or what I even wanted to do.
Luckily for you, our Founder, Adriana, has written a cracking blog here that breaks down the whole career change process and identifies some simple strategies that you can use to figure out what you really want to do.

2. Assess how a career change is going to fit in with the rest of your life

Sometimes it’s not as easy as simply ‘doing what you love.’ While influencers make it look sexy to throw a job in and pursue an exciting new path, most mere mortals have a lot to consider. You might need to maintain a specific salary or work in a particular location to be close to childcare. It’s essential to do your due diligence to make sure that your new career move is right for you right now.
Find out here the questions to ask to determine whether doing what you love will work for you.

3. Get your resume up to date

Now that you’re ready to make your move, it’s time to bring your resume up to scratch.
Don’t sell yourself short with a resume that doesn’t reflect how genuinely unique you are –  it’s your first opportunity to make a lasting impression on a potential employer, and you want to make sure it’s a good one! Your resume should showcase your relevant skills and experience and demonstrate to a potential employer what value you will add to their business – why you are THE ONE for the job.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got your back – check out our blog here to assess whether your resume is ready.

How can we help you return to work after parental leave?

At Elite, we love supporting parents – we’re parents ourselves, and we know just how daunting it can be returning to paid employment. From refreshing your resume to interview coaching, there are several ways that we can work with you to reach your career goals – no matter your chosen profession.

  1. If you’re confident in your writing skills, you could enrol in our Resume In A Day course. This course provides a guided approach full of videos, resume templates, and prompts to help you write and format each resume section.
  2. If you want professional assistance, we can help by writing a resume, selection criteria, or interview coaching – just get in touch here and let us know how we can help!

I hope you enjoyed Part Four: Returning to Work after Parental Leave and feel confident and empowered to make your next career move!

This blog is the fourth in a series about navigating the opportunities, potential pitfalls, and changing priorities of planning and managing your career.

If you or someone you know are looking for a job for the first time, check out Part One here.

Or, if you are no longer a graduate and would benefit from a few tips and tricks to build a meaningful and successful career, you can read Part Two here.

Written by Jharna

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