Returning to work after taking time off to focus on family is a significant milestone for parents. However, it’s common to feel anxious about the knowledge gap that may have developed during the break. The professional world can evolve rapidly, and closing this gap can seem like a daunting task. But fear not! In this blog post, we’ll explore practical strategies and tips to help you confidently bridge the knowledge gap and ease your Return to Work.
The first step in closing the knowledge gap is to assess your current skill set and identify areas that require updating or improvement. An easy way to do this is to have a coffee with an ex-team mate and find out how things have changed since you left. You can also reflect on your past work experiences, strengths, and areas that you feel less confident about. Pinpoint the specific skills and knowledge that have evolved in your industry during your absence. This self-awareness will lay the foundation for your learning journey.
2. Continuous Learning:
Engage in continuous learning to stay relevant and informed in your field. Online courses, workshops, webinars, and industry-specific events are excellent resources to update your knowledge. Or, if you are pushed for time, are there specific magazines/newsletters that you can subscribe to, to keep your knowledge up to date? There are also free courses on platforms like LinkedIn, and we offer several fully funded courses that can help close those knowledge gaps - you can find more details on the Tribe home page.
Expand your professional network to gain insights into current trends and opportunities in your industry. Attend networking events, join LinkedIn groups, and connect with former colleagues. Networking not only helps you stay updated but also opens doors to potential job opportunities and mentorship (and trust me when I say that the idea of networking is almost always worse than getting out there and doing it!).
4. Volunteering and Freelancing:
Consider volunteering or freelancing in your industry to gain practical experience and bolster your resume. These opportunities will allow you to apply your skills in real-world scenarios and demonstrate your abilities to potential employers. They can also open up job opportunities and show, if you are making a career change, that you are committed to your new path.
5. Utilise Parenting Skills:
Parenting equips you with a unique set of skills that are highly valuable in the workplace, such as time management, multitasking, problem-solving, and communication. Many Tribe members say they are better people managers after having children.
Highlight these skills, on your resume and during interviews to showcase your adaptability and versatility, linked to specific jobs to make it easier for hiring managers to see how these skills will benefit them.
6. Returnship Programs:
Many organisations offer “returnship” programs designed explicitly for parents or professionals returning to work after a career break. These programs provide training, mentorship, and an opportunity to transition back into the workforce with support. Make sure you do your research and be selective - some returnship programs are just a way of companies getting free resources without giving anything back.
7. Embrace Technology:
Stay up-to-date with the latest technology and software relevant to your field, such as cloud accounting software or the latest social media platform. Online tutorials, many of which are free, and guides can help you get started and boost your confidence.
8. Seek Support:
Closing the knowledge gap may feel overwhelming at times. Seek support from your support network to share responsibilities at home, allowing you more time to focus on learning and skill development.
Returning to work after a hiatus can be both exciting and challenging. Recognise the value of the skills you’ve gained as a parent and use them to your advantage. Remember, it’s never too late to close the knowledge gap and reignite your career. With determination, resilience, a bit of planning and the right resources, you can confidently step back into the professional world and achieve your career goals.
If you’re not sure where to begin, Module 1 of The Returners’ Tribe online learning platform, “All About You”, will help you understand your skills, strengths and values, enabling you to pick the right career path for you.