Friday, 13 September 2019

What does success mean to you?


What does success mean to you? It's an interesting question to ask yourself from time to time - especially when you're considering returning to work after a career break.

Often we judge how successful others are in their career by looking at their salary level or how far they've progressed up the corporate ladder. If you've taken a long break and so haven't progressed as far as your peers who didn't step off the career ladder, it's easy to label yourself as 'less successful'.

However, research shows that the majority of people tend to use more subjective measures when judging their own success. A classic study* by Jane Sturges found that factors such as enjoyment, accomplishment, influence, expertise and personal recognition rated highly in a group of managers' descriptions of what success meant to them. For all of the women in the study, the content of the job was rated as more important than pay or status. Some people considered how effectively they balanced their work and home life as a key measure of success - a definite marker of success in our view but one we rarely hear or speak about.

Defining what success means to you can help you to feel more positive about the choices you have made in your career/life to date, and can point you in the right direction for the future.

Ideas to clarify what success looks like for you

1. Fast-forward
A useful exercise is to mentally fast-forward to your 70th birthday. To put yourself in the right frame of mind, imagine who is there with you, where you are, even what you're wearing. Now imagine you're giving a speech discussing what you're proud of having achieved in your career and - most importantly - in your life as a whole. What comes to mind? What will make you feel you have succeeded in your life? Write down whatever comes to mind and you'll have a good starting point for developing your own personal view of success

2. Think-back

Consider the proudest achievements in your life. What were the moments that made you feel really good about yourself? Can you see any common themes? Could these past accomplishments help you define what success will look like in the future? Has your perspective changed during your career break?


Once you've decided what success means to you, you may find yourself stuck on how to get there. Read our blog on the various routes back to work for ideas.


And don't forget to build your self-efficacy so that you believe you can succeed!

*What it means to succeed - Jane Sturges (1999)

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Why ‘back to school’ is a good time to focus on your return to work



Autumn is a good time to focus on returning to work


The nights are already drawing in and soon there’ll be an autumnal chill in the air. Many people have that ‘back to school’ feeling at this time of year - whether they have children or not – as the move into September can feel like a new beginning – more like New Year than New Year itself.

And it’s a great time to focus on a return-to-work as businesses return to full strength after the lull of July and August and start hiring again. You may also have taken time over the summer to relax and now feel refreshed, revitalised and raring to go. This can get your return-to-work off to a flying start!

Here are our top tips to capitalise on that ‘back to school’ feeling:

1. Getting started

Two of the most important things to nail when you start thinking about returning to work are clarity and focus. It’s therefore important to begin by taking the time to develop your return to work career direction as this will save you wasting time and energy on unhelpful job-hunting strategies.

If you’re struggling to decide what kind of role to look for it’s worth bearing in mind that studies consistently show that one of the key things that make us happy at work is using our strengths. Read our blogs for advice on how to identify your strengths and your unique strengths combination.

Once you have carefully considered your reasons for returning to work and what you want to do, you may find that you have too few choices or too many choices and therefore need to work on these. Taking the time to focus on your options at this stage will maximise your chances of success.


2. Making progress

Once you are clear on your career direction and the kind of roles you want to look for you’ll need to put together a great post-break CV, optimise your LinkedIn profile and brush up on your interview technique.

If you find yourself thinking things like ‘I’m too old to move into a new area’ or ‘I’m hopeless at networking’, these can be signs that you may have a fixed mindset, and this could impede your progress. Read our blog on how developing a growth mindset can improve your chances of finding a satisfying and fulfilling role.

Perhaps your professional confidence has taken a knock if you’ve had an extended career break – hardly surprising considering how much of our identity is tied up with our work. We have some top tips for boosting confidence and advice on how to look more confident than you really are.

Read our tips on how to be a successful returner candidate and also advice from people who have successfully returned to work. The advice from employers for returners on recognising your value can be especially helpful.


3. Keeping going

Looking for a new role after an extended career break can sometimes feel overwhelming and the inevitable setbacks may mean sustained motivation – so necessary for success – can wane. Read our advice on how to stay motivated in your return to work job search.

If you find yourself becoming demotivated – our stories from women who have successfully navigated a return to work will help give you encouragement and reassurance.

You’ll find lots more help in the advice hub on our website. And don’t forget to sign up to our Women Returners Professional Network for information on returnships, returner roles and return-to-work events and webinars.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Five tips for writing your back-to-work CV

Back-to-work CV tips



The end of the holidays and the new school year will be with us in a few weeks. If that’s got you thinking about re-igniting your own career Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO of career consultancy City CV, has some tips to get your CV in great shape.

Returning to professional life can be daunting. But a career break should never hold you back. The first step in your back-to-work plan is to make sure you have a professional, targeted and compelling CV that highlights your relevant strengths, achievements and skills.

Here are my top tips for creating a CV that will convince prospective employers of your value to them:

1. Tailor your CV to your target role

Think about what the employer really needs. What skills are they looking for? Why would they pick you over potentially hundreds of other candidates? Be positive and make a list of your skills and achievements from previous roles and personal experiences that demonstrate you have what it takes to match their requirements.

2. Get up to speed on Applicant Tracking Systems

If you’ve been out of the job market for a while, you may not know about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These work like a search engine – scanning CVs for key words. If your CV is to get past the ATS and onto the desk of a real human, you need to identify the key words from the job description – and then use them.

3. Don’t start with a gap

Mention your career break, but keep it simple and lean. Include a short ‘Career Break’ section under your work experience, with dates, including any professionally-relevant activities such as skilled volunteering or a home-based business.

4. Cherry pick

It can be a challenge to distil a long or varied career into two pages. But, it is possible if you highlight exceptional projects, skills and experience that align with your target role. Facts and figures are a great way to reinforce your results and achievements.

5. Don’t forget about the six-second test

On average, recruiters take just six seconds to decide whether to reject a CV or read on – so it needs to be compelling. Would your current CV pass this test? If you’re not sure, sign up for our next CV webinar below.



‘The Perfect CV’ FREE webinar with Women Returners and Victoria McLean, founder and CEO, City CV
As founder and CEO of City CV, Victoria has reviewed over 50,000 CVs over the course of her career and many of our clients have benefited from her workshops at the Women Returners annual conference. In this webinar, Victoria shares her knowledge on how to market yourself and build an effective business case on your CV. She’ll be talking about how to create a personal career story that showcases your most relevant achievements and helps you open that door to the job interview. We’ll also delve into the details of CV writing, with lots of practical tips.

Sign up to the webinar here

When: Thursday 26 September 2019

Time: 12.30pm to 1.30pm




Thursday, 25 July 2019

How to develop your return to work career direction

Career direction for a return to work

At our Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference earlier this summer, our CEO Julianne Miles led a session on how to get focused and develop your return to work career direction. Here are some of the key takeouts.

We find that many returners adopt one of these unhelpful strategies when they want to return to work:

  • Treating it like a research project with lots of thinking but little action
  • Taking a scattergun approach - randomly applying for a range of jobs online
  • Waiting to 'find their passion' or for the 'perfect job' to come along.

For success, it's important to have greater clarity and focusJulianne explained, "When you're thinking of going back to work, there are three questions you need to answer - why do I want to go back to work? What do I want to do? How do I get there?" This session focused on helping you to answer the first two questions.

Why do I want to go back to work?

Start by working out exactly why you want to return to work. Your motivation is often a mix of different things.  It could be a need for mental stimulation, to use your qualifications, or to be a role model for your children. It could be a desire for a more tangible sense of achievement or to get your professional identity back. It could be financial motivation; in this case consider whether you need the money, want to have your own money or want to have the affirmation of being paid what you are worth. As you think about your options, check that you'll be fulfilling your major motivations in the job(s) you're considering.

What do I want to do?

"This is often where people get off track," said Julianne. "They don't recognise that there is a trade-off triangle - it's very difficult to optimise job fulfilment, flexibility and pay/level. I recommend that people start with job fulfilment and then think 'how can I do that flexibly (if this is important to you) and how can I get the salary I want?' A return to work is unlikely to be successful unless you enjoy what you are doing and are getting enough out of the work day-to-day."

There's a lot of evidence that if you orientate your career, and life as a whole, around knowing and using your strengths you are likely to be better at what you do and also to be happier. Often other people are best placed to give you very valuable feedback on your strengths. This is because we tend to underestimate our own strengths as they are often the things that come naturally to us - and we tend to value more the things we find harder.

It's also important to determine your work values - what is most important to you in your working life? Test which aspects you can compromise on and which are make-or-break for you.

Likewise, working out what interests you is very important. What do you enjoy doing? Remember that you're more likely to find your passion if you start off by doing something that interests you, rather than waiting for your passion to appear!

Use these factors to develop your decision criteria. This will help you to develop new options or to narrow down the options you have already identified.

The next step is to actively explore your options. 

Julianne said: "Pick two or three options that you have the most energy to investigate. Go out and talk to people to find out more information. Start by talking to family and friends. Go to conferences, seminars - parachute yourself in with lots of people who are already doing what you want to do - and investigate if this could work for you. This way you'll be able to clarify which option best meets your decision criteria. And don't underestimate the intangible aspects - which job feels most like you - as this is equally valuable information." 



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Thursday, 11 July 2019

Changing the landscape for returners in the UK

Career returners in the UK

At our Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference, co-founder and CEO Julianne Miles MBE spoke about what led her to set up Women Returners and how the UK landscape for returners has changed over the last five years.

After her own 4-year career break to care for her young family, Julianne decided that she didn't want to return to her former career in corporate strategy and marketing. She found it difficult to decide what to do next and was disappointed to find that there was no support available to help her. In the end, she found her own way back by retraining as a Chartered Psychologist and s
etting up an occupational psychology practice.

As a sideline, Julianne began to help more and more friends and acquaintances who had taken career breaks and were unsure of what to do or how to get back to work. In 2012, together with Women Returners co-founder Katarina Gould (who stepped back to pursue other interests in 2016), she started this blog to support returners. The initial aim was to provide free online return to work advice and to spread positive success stories about returning to work. 


Julianne and Katerina became increasingly frustrated by the structural difficulties that talented and experienced returners faced when trying to get back to work. The story was always the same - they were ignored or rejected out of hand when they applied for jobs through traditional recruitment processes, and had to find roles through their networks, to retrain or to take much lower-level positions. 

In 2014, they had the ambitious goal of putting returners on the map for UK business. The idea was to introduce returner programmes to create bridges between employers who wanted to recruit talented and diverse professionals and returners looking to find satisfying work using their skills and experience. They also wanted to act as a voice and advocate for career returners within the Government and professional bodies.

"Our mission has always been to make career breaks a normal part of a 40 to 50 year career, and to remove the 'career break penalty'" Julianne told the Conference audience. "To do this we work with three different groups - individuals, organisations and the Government."

Julianne explained that, alongside their free Returner Network for individuals, Women Returners partners with employers to develop and support three main types of returner programme:

  • Returnships - high level, paid 'professional internships', where returners do a job for three to six months with transition support provided by the organisation. At the end of the period, there is a very strong likelihood of a permanent role if it works for both sides. These have really taken off in the UK and now in Ireland, and are at the pioneer stage in mainland Europe,
  • Supported hire programmes - bringing returners into a permanent role with transition support, and an understanding that there may be a short ramp-up period as a returner gets up to speed. The term 'supported hire' was coined by Women Returners in 2015.
  • Returner training programme - a form of returner programme where people who have taken an extended break are retrained into a different field, such as tech or wealth management.

"Five years ago, we introduced the concept of the returnship into the UK and have broadened our offering from there," said Julianne. "I did think that employers might not be that interested. However, this has definitely not been the case! In 2014 there were 3 UK returner programmes, by 2018 over 70 employers ran them."

"Almost every day I get contacted by a new employer asking about returner programmes. The interest is growing and growing, and we're seeing a real change in attitudes generally. Employers are realising that this is a really strong pool of candidates and they are looking beyond the gap to the skills returners bring."

Julianne described how Women Returners has partnered with employers to develop programmes around England, Scotland and Ireland. Although the concentration remains in the South, activity in the Midlands and the North of England is building. There is still little happening in Mainland Europe but she hopes this will change over the next 5 years.

"I'm proud to say that returners are now firmly on the Government' agenda," said Julianne. "There's a returners unit within the Equalities Office, and last year we co-wrote best practice guidance for employers on returner programmes which is on GOV.UK."

"We're doing what we can to change the context," said Julianne, "but I want to ask you as returners to do your bit as well. Be positive, proactive and don't write yourself off! If you find yourself thinking 'I'm too old', 'It's too late', 'Nobody's going to want me' - push all those thoughts away. Listen to and gain support from the positive people in your life who can help you think about what you CAN bring. Remember - you are the same, competent professional that you were before you took your career break. You might be a bit out of practice, but it won't take long to get up to speed and to be firing on all cylinders!"


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Thursday, 27 June 2019

Tips and tools to boost your professional confidence

Tip to boost confidence

At our 2019 Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference last month, Anna Johnstone, senior coach at Women Returners, led a session on how to boost professional confidence. Here are some takeouts from that session.

One of the recurring themes we see when we coach returners is lack of professional confidence. The women we work with may be very confident in their personal life, but often doubt their self-worth when it comes to returning to the workplace. They may think "What have I got to offer? Will I be able to do the job? What value can I add? Will an employer even want to hire me?" We hear these doubts again and again.

Our senior coach, Anna Johnstone, focussed on tackling a lack of professional confidence head on at our recent Conference by focussing on three key areas - 1) internal feelings of worth and self-belief,  2) outer confidence - your gravitas, the impact that you have, and 3) reframing confidence as courage.

1) Inner confidence - feelings of worth and self-belief

Some people refer to self-belief as having backbone. But Anna says that improving your self-belief is a bit like strengthening the muscles around your backbone which may have become a little weak during a career break. Self-doubt - your inner critic or gremlin - may be telling you that you've lost your skills, you're too old or that you'll never get back up to speed with technology. 
Here are Anna's tips for dealing with your inner critic and boosting your self-belief:
  • Try reframing the way you think. Instead of thinking, for example, "I will never get back up to speed" say to yourself - "my inner critic is telling me I will never get back up to speed"
  • This is a subtle, but effective, change which will make you question negative assumptions. It may also bring out the fight in you so that you think "someone is telling me that I'm not going to get back up to speed - but I am going to get back up to speed."
  • Remember that you also have another internal voice - your inner mentor. This is the voice of someone who cares about you - it's calm, kind and supportive. Learn to listen to this voice and to dial it up so that it becomes louder than your inner critic
  • Remind yourself of the things you are good at - it's a great way to boost self-belief. Remember that you have a wealth of skills and experience developed throughout your career and your career break - write these down and practise saying them out loud

2) Outer confidence - how do you act more confident even if you have doubts on the inside?
  • Think about your body - if you change how you sit and stand this will change the way you think. For example, putting your feet firmly on the ground so that you feel solid can really help if you’re about to go into a situation that makes you feel stressed
  • Roll back and lower your shoulders. This will take the tension out of your shoulders and allow you to breathe better 
  • Breathe deeply from your diaphragm - in through your nose, out through your mouth - five times. This will help dissipate doubts and anxieties and strengthen your voice - particularly important just before an interview!
  • Watch Amy Cuddy's Power Pose TEDTalk - and practise 'power posing'  every morning and before facing any situation you find stressful
  • If you hear yourself speaking quickly make a conscious effort to slow down. People will hear more of what you say and speaking slower has the added bonus of giving you more time to think
  • Feel more confident at interviews and meetings by wearing something that makes you feel good about yourself and gives you a boost

3) Reframe confidence as courage
  • The problem with thinking "if only I had more confidence I would send this email, apply for that role, phone my contact etc" is that you end up waiting to feel more confident, which can stop you from taking action
  • Instead of focusing on having more confidence, try focusing on having more courage
  • Courage is when you decide to do something difficult even though you may have doubts, even though you feel afraid
  • Courage is a much more positive word - aim to dial your courage up a notch to help you to take action despite your self-doubts.

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Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Advice for Employers to Returners - How to Make Yourself Stand Out in CVs and Interviews


At our 2019 Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference, Claire Cohen, Women's Editor of The Telegraph, interviewed five of our employer sponsors who have experience of running successful returner programmes: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, FDM Group, Fidelity International and O2.

Read some of the highlights on CV and interview advice from the panel's responses below (and see our previous post on recognising your value too).

How can you write a great CV for a returner programme? “Make sure you bring out your career break on your CV - the experience that you’ve had and what you've done, the skills that you've learned. Some people leave this out and just put the dates in instead of explaining what they've done during that period."

“Most people have amazing backgrounds. Demonstrate the skills you want the employer to see, bring those out with some real-life examples on your CV."

“What I really look for is experience - make sure this is fully explained on your CV and at the interview as well, because the experience you bring is so different from other candidates and that’s what really sets you apart."

“Put your career break front and centre of your CV. There’s no point in trying to hide it - why should you? It’s absolutely part of who you are and the experience you're bringing to the role so draw that out at the beginning."


“If you want an employer to give your CV time, to give you time, you need to put the time in yourself. Before you press the send button read it a second, third time and just make sure that it makes sense."


How can you present yourself well during an interview?

“It’s very important to come to the table with what you are bringing to the organisation and not to focus on what you may not have, such as technical/digital skills.”

“Be prepared. When you go to that interview know your CV, know your skills and don’t dismiss the soft skills."

“Articulate what your top strengths are - this can be powerful in an interview.” (see What's your Unique Strengths Combination)

“Don’t define yourself by what you’ve done before. Think about transferable skills. Break down what you’ve done into elements that will help an employer understand what you bring to the table."


“Try to be succinct. Articulate exactly what skills you bring."
 
"Don’t undersell what you’ve been doing - a lot of people undersell what they’ve done during their supposed 'time out'."



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Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Advice from Employers for Returners - Recognising your Value


At our 2019 Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference, Claire Cohen, Women's Editor of The Telegraph, interviewed five of our employer sponsors who have experience of running successful returner programmes: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, FDM Group, Fidelity International and O2. 

Read some of the highlights from the panel's responses below (more to come in our next blog).

Why do employers run returner programmes?

"We were thinking about this talent pool that’s incredibly talented and has amazing skills and we thought we’re going to tap into this to help us solve one of our business problems. So we launched in 2014 and it’s been brilliant for us. We’re now in our sixth cohort and we have a fantastic group of alumni who’ve been through the programme and are active participants in our day to day work."

"The proof is in the pudding. The more returnships we run and the more the hiring managers see the quality of the candidates coming into those programmes and what they can bring over and above another hire from another bank, or similar institution, is really valuable and I can only see that growing."

What benefits do returners bring to the workplace?

"[Returners] come in with a really fresh pair of eyes. They can look at our processes and our systems and the way that we work quite differently and it’s a real breath of fresh air - that’s what we hear from our managers."

"Another thing that I’ve seen is the enthusiasm when they come back and the fact that they bring so much - they want to give back to the organisation. I can cite several examples of our returners acting as mentors to some of the more junior women. They are active participants in key elements of our organisation."

What are employers looking for in a returner candidate? 

“I want flexibility of mind. You’re not the same person as before your career break. You want us to see this a positive so you’ve got to see that as a positive as well. Be flexible, be open! Your time out has taught you a lot."

“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve things so any type of improvement or process improvement [including during your career break] that you’ve done will be really valuable to organisations."

“Flexibility - we want to move people around the organisation so I'd really encourage people to be really open-minded about what they initially start to do because it could lead on to so many other things once you’re there."



What have they have been surprised by when running returner programmes?

“I knew the talent was going to be good but it's far surpassed what I thought. For me its been really eye-opening. We get to see these amazing resumes coming in all the time. The talent pool is truly outstanding and it's very much untapped."

“I never expected how much of an integral part of the community [returners] would be in terms of giving back to the organisation several years in. They’re really involved and engaged and willing to support those coming after them."


Sign up to our free network for more advice, support and job opportunities. You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.






Friday, 17 May 2019

Advice from Successful Returners to Work


Did you miss our Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference this week in London? For those of you who couldn't join us, our next few blogs will talk about the takeouts from this sellout event.

Our Returner Panel session was chaired by the wonderful Jane Garvey from BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour. Five women who have successfully returned to work after a multi-year career break spoke about their experiences. Two had taken a break to care for small children, one for fostering and setting up a business, one to focus on family time with older children and one to take time out from a long career in a high-pressure role. Three had returned to work via a returnship, the other two via networks or stepping-stone roles.


Here are some of the highlights from their comments, including the panel's advice for other women wanting to get back to work:

On where they are now:

“It’s been a revelation to me - the whole returnship process, the support the firm has provided me, the support from Women Returners and the whole promotion of the idea of being able to return to work... I managed not only to return to work but to start a whole new career in the finance industry." 


"I didn't know that returnships existed. I had set my standard of returning to work as 'perhaps I could take a few steps back if someone would have me' - I really had no expectations and not a lot of confidence that I'd be able to step back into a senior role...honestly, the programme has been transformative for me and my career."

“It’s amazing - I didn’t think that from where I was two and a half years ago to where I am now was going to be possible."


On how they first felt being back at work:

 
"It was a bit of a shock, I wanted it but it was quite challenging. The most interesting thing for me was the progression over a number of weeks. And what I learned from day one was not to crucify myself by setting totally unrealistic standards about what I wanted to achieve.”

"I think we all have that slight reservation that we’re not quite up to it or that we won’t know what to do when we (arrive) and sit down or go to a meeting. But I was amazed at how quickly it all came back. After about three weeks the senior management team were saying 'we feel like you’ve been in the organisation for years - you’ve just fitted back in'."

"My first day was a mixture of terror and excitement.”

“My employers were really welcoming...I was nervous about photocopiers and phone systems."

"Don't worry - within a week you'll be back in the swing of it."

"I was made to feel incredibly welcome from day one. I was given a senior woman as a mentor and meetings were set up for me to meet other people in the department."



On setting boundaries/managing work-life balance:

"You have to decide what you’re going to do in a week, what you’re going to deliver and make sure you communicate that to people around you."

"It's really important for you to take responsibility (for managing boundaries). No-one is going to do that for you."

"Don't set unrealistic standards about what you can achieve when you first get back to work."



On what to wear for interviews:

"A friend gave me some brilliant career advice once. He said - when you’re going for an interview don’t do things that will enable people to write you off from the beginning. If you’re going for an interview where - like it or not - they wear suits then wear a suit. Do your research."

"For me, it’s about feeling confident. - if you feel confident in what you’re wearing that’s what’s important - and the fact that you project that confidence."

“It's very dependent on the workplace. I don’t think it’s to do with wearing a suit - it’s about getting the dress code right.”

"I went to the hairdresser for the first time in two years - I wanted to feel 'put together' and confident."


General comments/advice:

"What I would recommend is lots of positive talk to yourself in front of the mirror before you go into the interview."

"We have to understand that we have skills - they don’t go away - they might be slightly rusty but I can reassure you that within a week you’ll be back in the swing of things and within three months you’ll feel you’ve never been away."

“You’ve had a break, you’ve developed lots of positive behaviours and that’s what you’ve got to offer a new employer."

“One of the women on my returner programme had been out of the workplace for 20 years and came back in and did the programme and got herself a job that she was absolutely thrilled to get and loves and is forging another career."



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Wednesday, 24 April 2019

How good posture can improve your return to work confidence



This week's guest blog is by Abi Wright, who explains how maintaining good posture can help you to feel calmer and more confident when you're returning to the workplace.

There is one habit that nearly all women share and that is the habit of making ourselves smaller. It’s something that is conditioned in us from a young age and it can have a huge impact not only on our posture, health and happiness but also on how we’re perceived. It wasn’t until I was in the position of returning to work after a maternity leave that I realised just how much this habit was impacting my confidence and presence and therefore impacting the ease of my return.

Being a posture specialist I’m only too aware that as women we need to start owning our space more in order to be seen and heard. This is especially important if you’re attending an interview, a networking session or starting at a new organisation. If we become aware of our posture, making a few small changes can be a huge support when returning to work.

There are three tips I want to share with you that have helped me time and time again. They are simple and you can begin to use them straight away.

1) Look up. Your head weighs approximately 11lbs, similar to the weight of an average cat, so if there happens to be one close by pick it up. It’s heavy, isn’t it? If you find yourself looking down, then the weight of your head will start pulling your shoulders forward and will impact your posture and presence. It will also hinder your breathing so you won’t feel as relaxed. If you walk into a room looking up, your posture will be better and you will have presence. You will feel more confident - and if you can see everyone in the room, it means they can see you.

2) Love your armpits. This might seem an odd request but bear with me. If you find you’re making yourself smaller and feeling tense then the likelihood is you’re squeezing your arms in and your armpits have no space. This quite simply means you can’t breathe fully because the movement of your ribs is constricted by your arms and so your lungs can’t fully inflate. If you bring awareness back to your armpits and allow space to be there then not only will you fill your full width and own your space but you’ll also be able to breathe so you’ll feel calmer and more confident.

3) Ground both your feet evenly on the floor – don’t put more weight on one than the other or sway between the two. When you allow both feet to release down you will naturally have better posture and feel more present and grounded.

So I invite you to give these simple tips a try and see how you get on.

One final thought I want to leave you with is to consider how to enter a room. This can massively impact what follows – whether it’s an interview, meeting or networking session – because we can make a first impression in as little as seven seconds. So, walk into the room looking up, breathe into your width and ground yourself through your feet.

Something that has really helped me is my ‘entering the room’ theme tune. We all have a song that makes us feel really energised when we listen to it. Well find that song and listen to it or sing it to yourself before entering the room. I promise you will notice a big difference.

By allowing yourself to stand tall and to own your space not only will you feel more confident and in control, but others will perceive you to be these things too. You deserve to stand tall. You deserve to own your space. And you deserve to be where you are. So hold your head high as you play your theme tune and step into the room. You’ve got this.


Abi Wright is a Posture Specialist and Alexander Technique practitioner with a background in business, performance and wellbeing. She goes into organisations working with the female workforce to increase confidence and visibility through posture. She is also passionate about raising awareness around the importance of women owning their space within the workplace and society  www.inspiringmargot.com



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