After 13 years of extremely fulfilling years in the financial sector, taking a career break was a difficult albeit necessary decision. “Shifting to a new city, childcare difficulties, coupled with long and tiring commuting woes of Mumbai compelled me to take a break. It was the best decision for my family”, she recalls.
So why did she decide to get back to work and how was her experience? “I dabbled with entrepreneurship for a couple of years. I took up baking. While I enjoyed the flexibility, a sense of loneliness began to creep in. I missed bouncing ideas with my colleagues. My life began to revolve around children, their school, homework, etc. I missed being something more than a mother. There were days when I would look at my wardrobe filled with my former formal clothes and wonder if I would ever use them again. I took a break for about two years. In that time my children grew up, enough to not need me as much as they once did. We had settled well in the new city. I finally decided to get back to work.”
Speaking on her returnship journey, she says, “Life changing decisions like taking a career break can change your sense of identity and what you value the most. In my last stint, I saw myself as entirely career driven. But the value one places on work may change. I don’t think women should be apologetic about their need for work-life balance. Having frank conversations with the potential employers and targeting new age companies that fit one’s needs is the key to a sustainable and fulfilling career after a break”.
“We are in a fast-paced world. Erstwhile skillsets are soon becoming obsolete. The corporate world requires employees to constantly learn-unlearn and re-learn. The emphasis on upskilling, especially for women returning to work after a career break is huge. It is knowledge based, highly educated workforce we are dealing with. To give yourself the best possible chance to get what you want, you will have to upskill yourself. A resume is the first point of filtration for a potential employer. Highlighting the skills you acquired during the break will take the recruiters attention off the gap. This will help in the subsequent hiring process as well. How you market yourself, gets you heard!” is the advice she gives to women aspiring to get back to work.
There is no denying that while there are plenty of opportunities today for women aspiring to get back to work, there are enough barriers to dissuade them. On navigating these, she says, “I started my journey by having deep conversations with my children. I needed them to understand that there would be some changes and shifts in their life. I wanted them to be prepared as much as possible so that I can reduce the ‘mom guilt.’ The courage to discuss flexible work hours and child care facilities at work during interviews is something that did not come easy. Even when everything finally worked out, it took time for me to adjust to the work environment, although it was something that I was once familiar with. I could sail through the difficult initial months by setting realistic goals and going easy on myself. Any significant change is difficult even if the change is good. However, undeniably, upskilling and reskilling myself helped me immensely”.
There is no alternative, but to continually work on yourself and remember that if an employer values you, they will work with you!