We hear it a lot. You return to work after parental leave and your confidence is shaken and you are questioning your future direction. So what happens when you don’t know what you want anymore? Where do you turn when you have lost your confidence?
Meet Renee. Renee has a background in marketing and has worked across the globe in some fantastic roles. Her career was really taking off and she became a manager and part of the leadership group. However, that all changed after becoming a mama …
You said your career changed after becoming a mama…what do you mean by this?
My career took a nose dive after returning to work after parental leave. There had been a lot of change while I’d been away, combined with returning as a part-time employee … the opportunities just dried up. I was no longer a people leader and wasn’t part of the leadership group. I also felt less ambitious as I was working out how to manage my family life with my professional life, as well as also being ‘me’ again.
What was the most challenging part of returning to work after your first child?
How to be taken seriously at work, and not just there to ‘fill in the hours’. I felt I had lost credibility.
Your role was impacted during your second parental leave. Can you tell us about this?
Very soon after having my second child, there was a significant restructure. I was offered the possibility of a redundancy, which I chose to accept (it was a difficult decision as my daughter was only five weeks old and I was in the midst of newborn tiredness and trying to adjust to life with two little ones). I had to balance up the security of staying with the company I’d been with for so long, who offered flexible working arrangements, with the lack of opportunities I’d had over the past couple of years. And also most important was how it made me feel – I knew that if I stayed, it would just be the same thing all over again, and I couldn’t do that. My confidence had already been shaken and thought it was an opportunity to start anew.
We’re sorry to hear that. What did you do to get your career back on track?
It took quite some time, and is still a work in progress! Talking to trusted friends really helped. You realise that your experience isn’t uncommon at all. A good friend gave me the name of a career advisor who was fantastic. I was able to ‘start at the start’ and understand what my skills, passions and work experience was. This has led me to be clearer about the type of company and industry I want to work in.
What was it like seeing a career advisor?
Absolutely brilliant. It gave me the kick start I needed to focus on myself and life beyond being ‘just a mum’. I was reminded of what made me tick, what I didn’t like and what I needed to do to get back into the working world again. I really needed that push to bring back enthusiasm and positivity about all the things I had to offer to an employer.
What did she help you discover?
By doing some pre-work via a questionnaire, she helped with finding out what my strengths and passions were. And that it was okay if your job didn’t cover everything… There are other ways to do the things you love, outside of work. She also gave me some very practical advice on my resume and LinkedIn profile and how to start connecting with potential employers. It really helped me get my confidence back.
What have you learnt from this experience that you would pass onto other women in a similar situation?
You are just as fabulous (if not more so) after you return to work—don’t feel that you have forgotten or no longer have the skills you had before—they are still there and you’ve probably learned even more while you’ve been on parental leave!
What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
Always back your team—you’re all there to do the same thing. Listen to your colleagues and team members. And have fun.
Lastly, at the end of a busy week, how do you positively reenergise?
My new favourite thing to expel all the craziness is a Zumba class!
- Favourite time of the day is…when I’m about to climb into bed to read before sleep
- Instagram sites that inspire you… @my_colorful_past
- I’m happiest when… I’m planning to or am about to travel
- I’m addicted to…Pizza Shapes
- Favourite wardrobe staple for work…a blazer
- Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend… a snuggly jumper (winter only!)
- My role model is…Clementine Ford
- Heels or flats? Flats (now) Heels (pre-babies!)
Renee now works as a Senior Marketing Manager for a major bank and is mum to Georgia (3 years old) and Zoe (1 year old)