“First, however, she waited for a few minutes to see if she was going to shrink any further: she felt a little nervous about this; ‘for it might end, you know,’ said Alice to herself; ‘in my going out altogether, like a candle”

(quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland)

Like Alice many find their careers shrinking instead of growing. This can be the case, especially for women, who give up their careers to raise children or other demands and so set limits on what they can achieve in the workplace, often returning after a break with no clear career pathway or respect of what they are actually capable of. (Acknowledging also that research suggests approximately 200,000 British men stay at home, while their partners go to work.)

We are all adapting to an ever changing workplace and having a break from work for women and men can be seen as an ideal opportunity to learn new skills and re-evaluate career goals to become more marketable and confident when returning. The idea of the CV gap is becoming outdated and more emphasis being placed on what has been gained through the career break eg running a household; voluntary work; raising children and the host of skills this brings, like project management; multitasking; creativity; networking.

There are many networks that now support women, such as ‘Women Returners’ . It was published in November’16 by Women Returners, research suggests that of an estimated 427,000 women professionals currently on career breaks, 249,000 (three in five) are likely to come back into lower-skilled and lower-paid roles.

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

(the White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland)

Well don’t let it puzzle you. Take steps to define:

  • Who and what you are
  • What you really want
  • Study something new
  • Ask for help and support – the right career coach can help increase lost confidence by identifying skills and achievements to motivate you, and work with you to ensure your career does not shrink

Vanessa Jarrett