The Unique Challenges Women Face Re-entering the Workforce

lady reentering the workforce
In the article, Tina Monk, Sydney career consultant and life coach, discusses what women (including Mums) can make the transition back into the workforce an easy one.

Women returning to work

Going from one reality to another frequently presents challenges. Women returning to work after an absence (most notably after having children), experience a unique set of challenges.

Returning to work is a culmination of the fear, worry, shame, confidence loss, and trepidation many women experience after a prolonged absence. The most common absence women experience is the one resulting from childbirth and motherhood.

In addition to general anxiety over the transition, women are also challenged with a general lack of confidence in the skills and abilities not used during their absence — or they may not have used their skills and abilities in the same way while away from the workforce. It may even feel as if they’ve lost their edge while pursuing other things.

As many working mums know, the hardest thing about maternity leave is not being away from your job for a few weeks or months. The bigger challenge, for many of us, is coming back.

Mothers re-entering the workforce rarely find the logistical or personal support they need to continue to thrive in a career. All the normal stress of work is now compounded with baby logistics and the pressure to catch up on work, along with the guilt of being away in the first place.

Use your career break wisely and make the most of your time at home

If you spend time out of the workforce to raise children, getting back into the job market may be more difficult after an extended break. For that reason, it’s important to make the most of the time you’re at home.

Stay abreast of the latest trends in your industry and consider expanding your skill set during this time. Update your resume while addressing any gaps in your knowledge base. Remember to stay in touch with members of your network, while also forging new professional connections.

What’s your vision for going back to work? 

Most importantly, get crystal clear about your vision for going back to work. Setting your expectations for what you want to achieve professionally and as a mother can help you maintain balance between the workplace and home. Despite the challenges, many women are finding ways to do just that.

Once you’re ready to go back to work, sit down and think about the new skills you’ve gained raising a child. Some of these will look pretty good on a resume – you’ve probably learned a lot about negotiation, responsibility and balancing multiple tasks, for starters. When you’re writing an application, be sure to emphasise these, as well as anything you’ve done to keep in touch with your industry.

Managing stress once you’ve returned to the workforce

When you return to work you take on extra responsibilities. Naturally, this might cause you some stress.

Some stress can be helpful, giving you motivation and focus to face challenges and get things done. But too much stress can be overwhelming, making it hard to cope with everyday tasks and enjoy family life and relationships.

Steps to reduce your stress levels

Look at what you could change at work to reduce your stress levels – for example, your workload or hours.

Try to set some boundaries around how much work you’ll do at home, including limits on checking and responding to emails or phone calls.

Try to stay organised at work, listing your tasks and managing your time so things don’t get on top of you.

If you’re planning to have a few years off work, there are some extra things you might want to consider. The main one is not to forget about work altogether. Keeping up to date will make it much easier to get back into your career when you’re ready to work again.

Being a mother can be extremely rewarding in many ways, but it can have unintended consequences for mums who want to pursue a career while raising a family. The so-called motherhood penalty can affect women as they attempt to make a steady climb up the career ladder. That can impact their ability to build wealth and create a secure financial future.

Overcoming the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ with the help of a professional career consultant

The motherhood penalty may not be fair, but it’s a reality that many women face. Understanding how this penalty is imposed on mothers—and how it affects their career outlooks—is essential for women as they shape their financial plans.

As trained and professional career consultants, we will help you with short and long term career planning if you want to re-enter the workforce after an absence.

Our career counsellors, executive coaches and life coaches will work with you, ascertain your unique personal style, the best work environment, your interests, skills and strengths to achieve career satisfaction.

Our life coaches can help people of all ages and stages of life who yearn for more but are struggling to do it alone. Scroll down to take advantage of a complimentary coaching introduction.