Resources for Returning to Work After a Career Break
Updated: 5th October, 2023
Members sometimes reach out to the Network with queries on various topics. They can receive a combination of responses as other members offer their suggestions and so does ASPN which may include general advice or links to resources.
“I’m looking for work after taking a career break. Is there anything I can do from home/around my child?”
Our latest member query is focused on returning to work. Returning to work after a career break can be daunting but there are a number of resources available to help you settle back into work life, as well as advise you on how to find work that is flexible.
The government’s ‘Skills For Life’ campaign offers a number of free courses, skills bootcamps and qualifications which allow you to reskill or upskill in a sector you’ve worked in or in one you’ve had no experience it at all. If you’re looking to work from home or for a career that is flexible then taking a course or bootcamp in a digital skills subject such as data engineering, software development or marketing may be a good idea. If you want to do a bootcamp or a course, make sure you pick something that sparks your interest.
The courses are funded by the government but run by different providers therefore there’s a mixture of online and class-room based courses therefore you’re bound to find something that could fit around your childcare commitments.
The Government also provides a ‘Returner Toolkit’ specifically for those who are returning to work after a career break. The toolkit provides guidance on building your confidence, thinking about your goals, writing your CVs and cover letters, as well as exploring flexible options.
The toolkit also provides a section of additional resources and links with general advice, training and support, as well as working opportunities.
The National Careers Service website has a number of resources on writing cover letters and CVs, as well as advice on networking, bouncing back in a tough jobs market and improving digital skills. You can also speak to one of their advisors through their helpline 0800 100 800 or through their web chat for personalised careers advice and information.
SmartWorks is a charity which provides a dressing and coaching service designed to help women be the best version of themselves. Each of their clients receives a bespoke dressing consultation to find high-quality interview outfits (which are free and yours to keep), as well as interview coaching and other virtual services.
69% of SmartWorks’ clients secure a job in a month and that’s not all! They also welcome you for a second dressing and provide you with a working wardrobe to last until your first pay cheque.
Soma Gosh is a qualified Career Advisor and Career Happiness Mentor who helps people in identifying what they really want from their work and life, and redefining what career satisfaction means to them. She hosts a podcast called the ‘Career Happiness Podcast’ on which she discusses different topics such as improving your LinkedIn page, providing interview tips and advice on feeling confident about your career.
Soma has an episode specifically dedicated to restarting your career after a career break titled ‘How can I restart my career after a career break’. In this episode, she provides mindset practices, as well as advice and tips on what to do if you feel stuck. As Soma highlights: “It’s very important for you to understand that this is the next part of your journey, it is not the end.”
Soma also has a blog dedicated to career happiness and a fortnightly newsletter with tips on getting your dream job.
Good Copy ran by Lo Constantinou offers a lot of career advice on Instagram such as skills needed for remote work, tips for getting a job interview and advice on what to include on your CV. Remote job opportunities are also regularly shared.
Lo also provides paid CVs and cover letter writing services for parents returning to work and seeking flexible or remote work.
This is a resource specifically for mums which provides a number of job listings consisting of part time, home working and flexible jobs, as well as returner programmes and training courses.
This is another resource specifically for mums. Women Returners provide a list of returner programmes with companies such as EDF, FDM and Allianz in various careers. You can sign up to their free Women Returners Professional Network to receive information about the latest opportunities, as well as get access to their webinars and a free Return to Work Routemapper.
General Job Sites
Since the pandemic, more employers are allowing remote and flexible working therefore don’t be worried about finding a job. It may seem like a time consuming and tiring process but you will find something that you enjoy doing.
Job platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Reed offer the option to filter the location of jobs so you can search for remote jobs, and you can also filter part-time and freelance work if you’d like something with less hours or something that doesn’t have set hours.
There are a lot of websites to look for jobs on but we’ve compiled a list of the most popular ones:
Flexible/Remote Specific Job Sites
There are also job sites specific to flexible and remote working such as:
Top Employers for Flexible Working
WM People celebrates the best companies for diversity & inclusion, flexible working, career progression for women, mental health and family support every year at their Top Employer Awards. Whether you’re looking to return to work or progress your career, considering companies which have demonstrated their support for women and returners can be a great way to start your job search.
The winners of Top Employer Awards 2023 according to their categories are:
Winner for Best for Flexible Working (for employers who show how they promote and manage flexible working, and encourage a flexible culture in their organisation):
Lloyds Banking Group won the award for Best Flexible Working, as well as are the Overall Top Employer and Best for Older Workers. They have a number of roles available on their website in various locations across the UK but if nothing catches your eye then you can join their Talent Community by filling out a short form. This will make your profile visible to Lloyds Banking Group’s recruitment teams and if any suitable opportunities come up then they will contact you.
Winner for Best for Career Progression for Women (for employers who demonstrate initiatives at developing women’s leadership potential):
MediaCom (now called EssenceMediacom) have a high level of female representation in senior roles and offer coaching and apprenticeships, as well as are committed to 50/50 candidate lists. MediaCom also provides support for training and returners which is showcased by the case studies they presented with their entry. They have a number of roles in different fields available across the UK and the rest of the world.
Winner for Best for Returners (for employers who demonstrate that they have stand-out programmes or initiatives aimed at returners):
J Murphy and Sons Ltd won the award for Best for Returners. This may be surprising as they are a specialist engineering and construction company but their case studies demonstrate their dedication to supporting women. J Murphy and Sons Ltd have various opportunities available in locations around the UK and Canada. They also have an Early Careers programme for people of all ages and at all stages of their career. The programme includes graduate opportunities, placement experience and apprenticeships
Capgemini is another great company for those returning to work. It was shortlisted for the WM People Top Employer Awards for Best for Returners in 2022. The company offers flexibility if the role allows and they support a variety of working patterns. They have open job opportunities for various roles across the UK and the rest of the world.
Some other companies which were shortlisted can be found on the WM People website.
Working Dads is a great job site specifically for dads seeking part time, home based and flexible full time jobs. They provide the option to search for permanent opportunities but also provide information and freelance opportunities if you’d like to work for yourself.
If you’ve got a skill you can make use of such as designing, translating, writing or something else, you could become a freelancer and offer your services on freelance marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiverr, or you could start your own freelance business and get clients through networking or social media.
If you decide to become a freelancer, make sure to register yourself as self-employed with HMRC.
Volunteering for charities and non-profits can also be a great way to restart your career as you’re able to use your skills for a meaningful purpose. It can also provide opportunities for networking and skill development which could make it easier to find a permanent role. There are various volunteering sites such as CharityJob, Reach Volunteering and Do It which you can explore. You can also directly reach out to a charity or non-profit organisation whose cause you feel passionate about.
Whether you decide to pursue traditional employment, flexible working or freelancing, there is a path to fit your unique circumstances. Remember to stay positive, make the most out of all the resources available and embrace the possibilities that lie ahead!
We wish you the best of luck on your career journey!