How to return to work
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How to return to work after a long career break

4 Oct 2017

Fidelity International runs returnships for people who want to re-enter the workforce after a long time away.

Applying for new jobs can be stressful enough without having to worry about coming back to the workforce after a long break.

Whether it’s after taking some time out to travel, do something for yourself, start your own business or be at home with your family, there are plenty of reasons that professionals might hop off the career track for a while.

But, when it’s time to get back on, it can feel very daunting. The longer the break, the more out of touch a person might feel from the working world.

Not to mention the worries they might have about competing with those who never took a break.

Stephanie Marshall is the talent acquisition lead for the UK and Ireland in Fidelity International. She said there are many reasons why people might find it difficult to return to work.

Return to work challenges

“Some of the reasons can be personal to the individual who may doubt their own skills and be asking themselves, ‘Am I still relevant? Has the work place moved on too much? Will any employer be interested in me after such a long break?’ These are typical questions that people ask themselves when they are considering returning.”

Aside from self-doubt, Marshall said there are also practical things to consider, such as explaining a gap in your CV or the logistics of finding childcare.

“Many recruiters and hiring managers do unfortunately still screen out returners in favour of candidates already working.”

Marshall is also the programme manager for Fidelity International’s returner schemes. While already running in other countries, the company’s returner programme is launching in Ireland for the first time this year.

Working in partnership with Women Returners, the programme is a fully paid professional returnship of 20 weeks starting in January 2018, with the possibility of an ongoing role at the end of the programme.

Go for it

For those who want to return to work, Marshall advises them to go for it. “You’d be surprised how quickly you can pick up where you left off.”

She said, unlike the traditional hiring route, returnships tend to offer a supported route back into professional-level work and, with more organisations recognising the value of returners, these programmes are becoming more common.

“Each returner joins a coaching programme run by Women Returners, who deliver on-site coaching throughout the programme,” she said. “Feedback from our cohort of returners was that they really valued that extra support.”

Marshall also highlighted the benefit of returnships being a defined period, giving those who return to work the ability to see if it’s the right move for them.

While Fidelity International’s returner programme is new to Ireland, it’s not the company’s first returnship, with a number of successful programmes in other countries including the UK.

Natalie Lang is one of Fidelity International’s returners who came back to work after a six-year career break. “The Fidelity International returner programme helped me on a number of levels,” said Lang.

“Firstly, by recognising the need for such a programme, for giving me the opportunity to interview and for providing guidance and support throughout the programme.”

‘I do think it’s important to emphasise all the activities you have done on your career break’

Paul Burd, head of global business operations at Fidelity International, said: “We are delighted to be the first asset management company in Ireland offering this type of opportunity to candidates who may be finding it hard to re-enter the workplace.

“The more diverse perspectives we bring into Fidelity, the quicker we will achieve our goal of providing a better future for our clients.”

Another returner from Fidelity International’s UK programme, Adheli Martinez, came to the programme after a four-year career break. She said the coaching workshops involved in the programme were a complete game-changer for her.

“I think that the workshops are very helpful and cover perfectly all the stages that we are passing through,” said Martinez.

Marshall advised those who want to return to work to take action. “Think about all the contacts you know, grab every networking opportunity that comes along, create a LinkedIn profile and mark yourself as open to new opportunities. Let people know you are looking.”

She also said that, while upskilling isn’t necessary to re-enter the workforce, it does show that you’re serious about coming back.

“I do think it’s important to emphasise all the activities you have done on your career break as these often demonstrate commitment, resilience and innovation, which are just as important as core technical skills.”

Fidelity International is currently looking for applications for its January 2018 New Horizons Returner Programme in Dublin. Applications close 31 October 2017.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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