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For those returning to the workforce after a lengthy break, you already know it could be a difficult transition, so what can you do ahead of time to re-enter feeling confident and ready?
Whether you’re returning from maternity leave, an illness or life has taken you out of the workforce for a longer period, it’s likely the transition back will you see navigating new teams, ways of operating or even a different position.
We have teamed up with experts in the field who have seen, experienced, and helped women crack the secret to a seamless return. We chat to former Australian netball captain, Liz Ellis on her transition from professional sports to media, and QSuper business relationship manager, Yee-Shin Rosenthal who knows exactly what it’s like to re-enter into a new role after maternity leave.
Even if you're returning to a familiar workplace, there are likely to be new systems and processes to navigate, new leaders at the helm, or your team may have changed, all of which can make finding your footing a challenge. If you’re starting a new role, or a new career, the most critical first step is planning.
Liz Ellis, who has successfully returned to the workforce as a media personality and sports commentator following her years as a professional athlete, said her advice is to plan as much as possible and take it one step at a time.
“I’m a massive planner, so I wrote down what I wanted to do, who I wanted to work for, how I was going to get that work, even down to deciding who to call to let them know I was back on the market,” Ms Ellis said.
Training and upskilling can be useful, particularly in the current climate where workplace processes have been forced to adapt due to the pandemic. The good news is that re-skilling or re-training doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise, with plenty of free courses online designed to help you get up to speed.
Following her retirement from professional sports, Ms Ellis thought about what skills she would need for going back into the workforce, using time during her maternity leave to learn new skills in radio and television presenting.
Diane Hosking, from National Seniors Australia, said one of the most common misperceptions about older people returning to work is that they won’t be able to pick up the latest technology, or won’t be able to learn the job as quickly as a younger person.
While older people may learn differently to their younger colleagues, it’s important that they feel comfortable asking for help when becoming familiar with new systems and technologies.
“Younger people can tend to explain things very quickly, because they’re so familiar with the technology, but don’t be afraid to ask them to stop, go back and show you again if you’re still not sure,” Ms Hosking said.
Ms Hosking said that while the tech side of a new role could be taught, it was important for older employees who are returning to work to consider all the valuable skills they can contribute, such as life experience, problem-solving skills, strategic thinking, wisdom and a different perspective.
Yee-Shin Rosenthal, QSuper business relationship manager, has returned to work after going on maternity leave twice and said it is important.
“Before I went back to work, I had to really reflect on what my job was and think about whether it could be done part-time,” Ms Rosenthal said.
“And as much as I thought I’d like to go back part-time so I could spend more time with the children, I had to be honest with myself and realise that I’m the type of person who’d be checking emails and answering phones when I was technically on a 'day off'."
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The opinions expressed and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the QSuper Board. No responsibility is taken for the accuracy of any of the information supplied and you should seek advice for your circumstances.