Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Boost your confidence for a successful return to work



How to build your confidence to return to work


Ask one of our career coaches what they believe to be the number one personal barrier to a successful return to work after a career break and the chances are they will say “lack of professional confidence”.

Women on a career break may be very self-assured when it comes to their home and social life, but the thought of returning to the workplace can bring on a crisis of professional confidence. One of the ways this lack of confidence is often expressed is in negative thoughts around the prospect of returning to work – “I’m too old”, “things have moved on in my industry”, “I'm not the same person as the one who did that managerial job” etc, etc. 


When we consider that much of our identity is tied up in our work, it’s not surprising that when we’ve been away from the workplace for any length of time, we can find our self-belief gets eroded. If you're feeling under-confident, don't let this hold you back - take steps to give yourself a boost and you'll be setting yourself up for success.


Top Tips for Boosting Your Confidence


  • Remind yourself of your achievements – Think about all you have achieved, year by year, both before and during your career break. It doesn't matter how long ago it was, or whether it was a big or a small achievement, so long as it feels satisfying to you. To help, look out old copies of your CV to remind yourself what you achieved in past roles. Bringing your successes back to the front of your mind can give your confidence a real boost.
  • Identify your key strengths and skills – Rather than focus on what you lack, focus on what you can personally bring to an employer. It can be a hard exercise to list your own strengths, so get feedback from your friends and family, and think about what skills you demonstrated in the achievements you listed. Don't minimise what you've done during your career break - for examples, caring and volunteer work create valuable new skills. Read our blog on setting your career compass for other advice. 
  • Adopt the right mindset – Your attitude has a powerful impact on your likelihood of success. We find that returners who work on their patience, persistence and positivity are more likely to make a successful return than those who give in to frustration and negativity. We discuss how to adopt a mindset of ‘realistic optimism’ in this blog and a growth mindset, in this blog.
  • Brush up your knowledge and skills - Don't let feeling that your IT skills or industry knowledge are out of date sap your confidence. Upskill yourself. Find courses locally through Floodlight and look at the free online MOOCs (Massive Online Courses) to help bring yourself back up to speed. Use industry events and professional associations to find out what's been happening in your field and meet ex-colleagues to get an informal update.
  • Update your image – If you look professional, you’re more likely to feel like a professional again. If you can afford it, it's worth investing in a new outfit (and maybe a new haircut) for networking and interviews. Read our step-by-step advice on updating your wardrobe for your return. Establishing a regular exercise routine can also make you feel and look better, as well as boosting your energy levels.
  • Volunteer – If you've had a very long break, strategic volunteering can be a good way to ease you back into your 'professional self' and to refresh your skills and experience at the same time.
  • Body Language - Focusing on looking more confident through the way you walk and talk can actually make you feel more confident. Read more here.

Get more advice on re-connecting with your 'professional self' in this blog. And don’t forget to take a look at the Success Story Library on our website - reading the wealth of stories of a wide range of women who have successfully returned to work after multi-year breaks can help you to believe that you can do it too!



Join us for our Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference in London on 13 May. Find out more about our Conference and book your ticket now at the Early Bird price of £90 - but hurry - this offer ends at midnight 31 March.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

How best to use LinkedIn

How to use LinkedIn when you want to return to work


Recently we spoke to Victoria McLean - CEO and founder of City CV – to find out the best way to optimise your Linkedin profile. But once you have followed Victoria’s excellent advice, what happens next? Do you know how to use LinkedIn to its full advantage?

We asked Victoria for some tips:

Connect with people – spend time making connections and growing your network. The more first-degree connections you make the more second and third-degree connections you will then have, which will increase your chances of coming up in searches. And, of course, building your network will encourage more people to connect with you directly.

Join LinkedIn groups – every region and industry sector have their own groups and they are a great way to increase your visibility and connect with people who may be able to help you achieve your goal. You’ll be able to raise your profile by posting and commenting in groups, and LinkedIn allows you to message other group members free of charge. So, if you see someone in a group you belong to who is already working in a job/area that appeals to you - or even someone who has hiring responsibilities - you can contact them for advice.

Join LinkedIn career groups – these groups are often set up by recruiters so that they can make potential candidates aware of roles they are recruiting for without having to use LinkedIn’s paid-for service. Use LinkedIn’s search engine to find these groups and join them so that you’ll be the first to hear about new opportunities – once you have optimised your LinkedIn profile, of course!

Use LinkedIn Jobs – you can search for vacancies by job title and location, state where you are in your job search and select what kind of role you are looking for – eg, full-time, part-time, contract etc. You can also set up alerts and save jobs that appeal to you. If you are interested in working for specific companies, you can also choose to receive alerts when they post new job vacancies. Your activity in LinkedIn Jobs is not made public.

Ask for recommendations and endorsements – recommendations are similar to testimonials or references and can be from former colleagues, bosses or clients – you just need to send someone you have worked with a friendly request to provide you with a recommendation. And when you have listed your key skills, you can ask first degree contacts to endorse these skills on your profile. Both testimonials and endorsements are a great way of validating your profile and showcasing your experience. If you’re nervous about asking for support in this way, why not offer to endorse the skills of others and provide them with testimonials if you can? More often than not they will offer to do the same for you.

Sharing content and posting blogs – sharing useful content or even posting blogs you have written yourself are great ways to increase your visibility and credibility. You could even set up your own LinkedIn group if you spot a gap and feel it would be useful for your job search/future career.

City CV will be running a LinkedIn Key Essentials workshop at our Women Returners 'Back to Your Future' Conference in London on 13 May. And a professional photographer will be taking LinkedIn headshots. These options are subject to availability, so if you are interested in either do book your Conference ticket now.