25 Ways to Get Back on the Employment Ladder after Maternity Leave
By Maya Modha
With over 10 years of experience working in the recruitment sector, working my way up to Global Talent Director, I have a good idea of what recruiters and employers look for in a candidate.
I also know what it’s like to take more than the standard 12 months maternity leave and after much stress, decide that going back to your old company isn’t the right decision for you and your family. In that instance, you may decide to apply for a different role in a new company.
Below are my top tips for getting back into the world of work which should help you get one step closer to securing your new dream position.
1. Update your CV. Keep it to two pages and no longer. Most Recruiters and Hiring Managers stop reading after those first two pages. I know it’s tempting to put down everything you have ever done on your CV but don’t. Focus on your last two to three roles and make them detailed. Keep everything before them short and sweet.
Write a general Cover Letter to go with your CV highlighting what kind of role you are looking for and if it is part/full/flexible working you need. Make it clear what salary you are looking for. Know your worth.
Don’t accept a low salary just because you have had some time off on Maternity Leave. You haven’t been on holiday; you have still been working and gaining skills.
3. Scour those Job Boards for relevant roles that match your skillset and what you are looking for. Make sure you actually apply for those jobs.
4. Most Job Boards have an option to can sign up to receive free alerts when relevant jobs are added to the Job Boards. Make use of this. There may be some irrelevant ones at times, but you may find your dream job this way.
5. Update your LinkedIn status to let your contacts know you are back on the market and the kind of role you are looking for. Include your email address and let them know to email you should they want your CV. Your network is your net worth. You never know who you might be connected to that might know someone else that is looking for someone like you!
6. Scour LinkedIn for relevant jobs. LinkedIn has the biggest network of candidates in the market at the moment which is why most companies now invest in advertising their jobs on it instead over Job Boards.
7. Identify the top Recruitment Agencies for your market. Recruitment Agencies have had a bad rep in the past but if you get on board with a good one and stay loyal to them, you will reap the benefits. Recruiters spend all day every day forming and developing relationships with Hiring Managers that don’t have the time or the resource to recruit themselves so they are your greatest asset to getting that foot in the door at a new company.
Visit the Recruitment Agency’s LinkedIn page and have a look at the section entitled: ‘People who work here’. Find the individual best suited for your niche and email them with your CV and a few words about who you are, what kind of role you are looking for and invite them to meet for a coffee. Any decent Recruiter will meet you and it is vital that you meet them. You want them to be your biggest Ambassador and to do that, they need to connect with you.
8. Do not be afraid to pick up the phone and approach companies directly. If you see a job advertised on LinkedIn or a Job Board and you have sent your CV but haven’t heard back from them in a couple of days, go to LinkedIn, find out who their internal Recruitment Manager is and give them a call. Trust me, we love hearing from relevant candidates.
9. Ensure you have your Mum, in-laws, partner or friend on hand to look after your children at short notice so you can attend interviews.
10. Before an interview, ensure you have all details of the name of the company, where the interview is taking place and whom with and what their job roles are. Do you have a detailed Job Description and have you already agreed the salary and benefits package? Don’t waste your time if the package isn’t enough for you to live on.
11. The next step is nailing the interview but in order to do that you need to do the following: research the company; what do they do; how long have they been in business; what are their USP’s; who are their competitors; why is there a need for your position in the organisation; is it a replacement role or has the job come about because of growth? These are all questions you should put to the HR person or recruiter prior to interview.
12. Research your interviewees. Check out their profiles on LinkedIn. How long have their worked for that company? Where did they work before? What do you have in common? This is always a good one to look at because it might be that you went to the same University which is always a great conversation starter.
13. Prepare some questions you wish to ask the interviewers at the end. It is very important for you to ask questions too.
14. Confidence is key. You might not be feeling it, but if you are fully prepared and you have managed to secure an interview you should be proud of yourself and feeling good! Most Recruiters - agency or internal - receive hundreds of CVs for every position so you’ve done well to get to interview stage.
15. Dress for the role. If you are going to a corporate client dress formally. If you are going to a tech start-up wear jeans and a smart top. If you are interviewing for a fashion house dress in line with that house’s look. You get the gist. Go shopping if you need to.
16. Ensure you check out the route to the interview beforehand. Take into account rush hour traffic.
17. Arrive 15 mins early - no more no less. Hiring Managers hate it when candidates are too early as they are busy working on projects etc. They also don’t like it when you are late as it eats into their precious interview time.
18. Take a copy of your CV and a notebook or your iPad to make notes.
19. Take your time to answer questions. If there is anything you don’t understand don’t be afraid to ask your interviewers to elaborate.
20. Try to get rid of any reservations the interviewers have at the end by asking: ‘Do you have any reservations about me?’ This way you can address them then and there and there are no doubts in their mind regarding your ability.
21. Add a call to action at the end and don’t be afraid to apply some pressure. Always ask what the next steps are and how long the process is going to take. Let them know you are at final stages with other companies (even if you aren’t) but you are very interested in them and with that in mind, how quickly can they move to the next step?
22. I always recommend my candidates send an email or call their Recruiter to inform them how the interview went and let them know of any reservations you have and express a real interest in the role.
23. You may have to do a second or third stage interview. Use the above tips.
24. If you don’t get the job, I always like to send a courteous email to the interviewers or recruiters to say thank you for the opportunity and hopefully in the future you may be able to work together. Ensure you get detailed feedback as to why you didn’t get the job. You can use this constructive criticism for future interviews.
25. If you get the role and you are looking for part-time and/or a certain salary and/or flexible working, make sure these points are all covered in the small print of your contract. It must be stated in your contract otherwise it is not legally binding. Never sign until you are happy with the contract.
Finally, Good Luck! It might take one interview or 20 to get your dream role, but the above tips should help it happen sooner rather than later and help you secure the role you are looking for.