Wednesday, 16 December 2015

When life speeds up .. slow down

It's that manic run-up-to-Christmas time again: finishing off the year's projects, fitting in school end-of-term events, making holiday arrangements and somewhere in-between finding presents and writing cards. If your To Do list is feeling overwhelming, you can best reduce your stress levels by acting against your natural instincts ...

Pause and Breathe
  • Resist the urge to race around and do three things at once; instead consciously slow your pace and focus on doing one thing at a time. Often we pride ourselves as Queens of Multi-tasking, and a whirlwind of activity can feel productive. However cognitive research has found that it's far more efficient for our brains to focus on just one task - we tend to complete it faster, better and with less energy (here's the science behind it, if you're still sceptical: Multitasking Switching Costs).
  • Rather than not stopping from the moment you wake in the morning to the moment you collapse at night, take 5 minutes once or twice a day to sit quietly, slow your breathing down and do nothing (yes, not even checking your emails). Our minds need time to recharge, otherwise our energy gets more and more depleted until we reach collapse point. Even a short pause can break this cycle.
You can build these actions into habits through regular practice. This will enable you to better manage your energy levels all year round, at home and at work - these tips aren't just for Christmas!

Season's Greetings

Thank you for following our Back to your Future blog. We hope that we have been a source of advice, support and inspiration to you this year.

We're taking a festive break for a few weeks and will be back in the New Year!

All Best Wishes for 2016 from 
The Women Returners Team

Posted by Julianne

Friday, 11 December 2015

Dipping your toes in the social media pool

Today we introduce Muriel Clark who will be a regular contributor to our blog. Muriel has joined Women Returners as our Digital Media Expert, following her own career break. She will be managing many of our online communications from now on and we are delighted to have her on our team.

After a 4 year career break and no Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter accounts, I felt out of touch with social media platforms. While I was contemplating returning to work, I realised I had to do something. I had to jump in. So I embarked on a mission to familiarise myself with social media and develop a professional credible online profile.
If you are looking to get back to work and are Twitter shy or LinkedIn adverse, fear not, you can teach yourself a few basic things that really can help to kick start your career.

Before you start, it is worth assessing your online presence by “googling” yourself. Potential employers will check your online credentials. With this in mind, and if you have been prolific on Facebook with personal matters, consider removing inappropriate posts.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the best tools for building your professional network and staying current with relevant information. Start by building your profile on LinkedIn. This can be daunting, but start with a skeleton of your CV, an outline of your career, your interests, education and volunteering experience. Read our previous blog for details on how to set up your profile, develop your network and job search on LinkedIn. Your new network will be invaluable for job searching, gaining references and endorsements and getting introduced to new contacts.

Twitter is another useful platform to rebuild your professional network. I know what you are thinking. What shall I tweet about? Well, you do not need to tweet to get started; you can adopt a rather passive approach that will show your areas of interest and more importantly keep you abreast of real time news on topics, individuals and organisations that you have carefully chosen. You can be a follower (on Twitter that is) and that’s fine for now.  Look at potential employer campaigns, find out about their current issues, research topics related to women returning back to work and employment diversity. Follow your favourite publications. Once you are confident, you can start “retweeting” useful information. And if you get the twitter bug, you might start tweeting your own thoughts before you know it.

Social media is not rocket science. Embrace it as little or as much as you want. You can make the most of social media without having to post something groundbreaking every 5 minutes. It is about embracing an effective medium to revive your career by growing your network and uncovering a new world of opportunities, sharing content as you see fit and not falling into a pool of information overload.

As for me, I have gained confidence and expertise in social media by doing the above and completing courses which were paramount to revive my career in marketing communications. I was lucky to be part of the Back2BusinessShip course (sponsored by Golin, Starcom Mediavest and F1), an excellent programme for women wanting to go back to their PR/Media/Marketing/Communications careers. I have completed comprehensive social media online courses (more on courses in a future blog). And thanks to my expertise in social media and refreshed marketing communications skills, I have recently joined Women Returners as their Digital Media Expert. 

Posted by Muriel

Friday, 4 December 2015

Anticipating the empty nest

Last month my youngest child turned 18 and I suddenly found myself in the position of being a parent of two adults. While this has been a long-anticipated state, my focus has been on my daughter's multiple celebrations not what her new adult status meant for me. Now, as she prepares to follow her brother to university next year, I am finally contemplating my empty nest.

In reality, I've been preparing myself for this stage since my children were born. Indeed, it was the fear of facing the prospect of an empty nest which ultimately propelled me into action with returning to my career, along with my desire to make a difference to society in some tangible way. When I retrained as an executive coach eleven years ago, I didn't have a clear idea of where I would be going with my new qualification or how I would rebuild my career. But I was clear that I wanted to be engaged in work where I could lay foundations for a time when I would be freer to focus more on my own work than my family responsibilities.

My return to work was small scale at first. I was content to work with just a few clients and to continue to put the majority of my energy and focus into my family. As I gained experience (and with it confidence in my abilities) and my children grew up, I actively sought more clients and even accepted the occasional overseas assignment. Self-employment allowed me to forge a new career while retaining the parental role I wished to have. At the same time, it hasn't always been easy and I had plenty of self-doubts along the way. The next major step I took in building up my work role was co-founding Women Returners, which has unintentionally provided another buffer to the empty nest effect. Our business and network are rapidly expanding, with the time and energy commitment that entails, as my involvement with my children's lives is decreasing. 

If you're also motivated to return to work by the looming prospect of the empty nest, the good news is that there are many more routes back to work than existed even 10 years ago, with the arrival of returnships and our innovative supported hiring approach. Companies and government are also acknowledging that returners are a neglected population who have skills, training and experience which are valuable. If you are seeking ideas and inspiration for how to return to work before your children fly the nest, take a look at the success stories on our website and the blog posts in our advice section.

Posted by Katerina