'I qualified as a chartered accountant at 25 and I worked my way up to a good position – middle management level at a multinational. But when I had children I made the decision to stay at home with them. It was an important decision for me and I have no regrets about that. I had 15 years at home, but once my youngest was at secondary school, I thought maybe it’s time to think about reactivating my career.
Re-entering the workforce after 15 years is a big step. You feel that the world has moved on without you. You don’t know what to expect and it’s quite daunting. I felt that the whole computer skills thing would be a hindrance – offices were very paper-based when I was working, so all the software that is now normal was a bit of an unknown for me. Part of you thinks that there’s so much competition, you won’t get a look in.
But I’ve learnt in life that all you can do is give things your best. I started to look at ICAEW and CABA information, and I saw a free event called ‘Returning back to work after a career break.’ Even going to the course felt outside my comfort zone, I needed to present myself in a very different way than I had for years.
All the long-term returners exchanged numbers and we talked to CABA about accessing their services as a group. CABA was really flexible and seemed to be happy to adjust their usual approach for us. We had Excel training, some well-being courses – some people attended events in future planning and mindfulness. A particularly useful session was one that covered LinkedIn. One of the good things was that if someone couldn’t attend an event others would share the learning by email.
We attended our coaching sessions as a group to maximise our hours. It was much more enjoyable that way. I loved that CABA is interested in supporting clients in a very tailored way. Their support really grew our confidence. We grew to realise that in staying home for so long, we had developed other strengths. I realised that I have a kind of calm assertiveness that I wouldn’t have had in the first half in my career. We were encouraged the think about what we actually wanted, what would fit into the lives we had built. CABA helped me think about what worked for me. By the time I saw a local post I was interested in, I felt confident in my abilities, and I also felt resilient enough to accept my weaknesses and to have strategies in place to overcome them. I was delighted to secure a good position fairly quickly, and I’m enjoying it a great deal. As a group, we didn’t even use all the coaching hours because we all got jobs before we finished the programme.
If you are considering returning to work after a break, contact CABA and see what they can do for you. Things are more enjoyable and a lot less scary with a bit of support.'