Authored by Ms. Sairee Chahal,Founder & CEO, SHEROES.in
India is home to the largest number of women graduates in the world.
We are also home to the maximum number of career drop outs. Women who anchor care giving economy, end up short changing their dreams and aspirations. Lack of parental support, long commutes, insensitive workplaces, gender stereotypes – end up with women ramping down on career success. But guess what! We can extend dreams of great careers and help more and more women take charge of their work life choices. World of work is changing. India is changing. Options are growing. More women are returning to work now than ever before, as choices expand, career support increases and women negotiate their own destinies.
Most women also have a challenge in managing transition as they change formats, sectors, build a different life with children and find that no structured, real help is available. Friends and family are very well intentioned and not often in a position to help beyond prescriptive advice. Transition management is a reality of today and most women need supportive frameworks and an culture of mentorship as they move from one phase of life to another. A range of resources and platforms are available to women as they come back to work.
- One needs to evaluate one’s own readiness to start/ get back to work.
- Understand by getting a perspective on the current workplace scenario, what opportunities exist and what it may take.
- Develop a sense of confidence, including the strengths that can be leveraged.
- Understand gaps in knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills & steps you can take.
Here are a few suggestions for all those women, who want to get back on their feet, once again.
1) Know your strengths and skills – Companies always look at your last job role when hiring. Recruiters may ask you questions about the break you took and the time period it stretched on for, but don’t let that faze you. Be confident of the work that you’ve done in the past and the right employer will certainly value you for the skills and talent that you bring on board.
2) Know about latest trends / Be up-to- date – You have to stay abreast of the latest trends and opportunities related to work. This would require you to stay updated during the break by traditional ways of brushing up skills and knowledge through books or magazines. Freelance work can also be a good idea. This will give the employers an impression that you have used the break well, they will not be afraid of giving you a second chance.
3) Make a network – Be in touch with old colleagues and employers as this might help you in your search for an appropriate opening or get you good references that can increase your chances of getting selected for a job interview. You can also attend professional seminars, which can give a chance to interact with people from your choice of industry and help you in landing up with better opportunities.
4) Be confident at interviews – On the D-day, don’t be nervous. Be resilient to asking questions about the company’s flexible work policies, whether people work beyond regular working hours or about how many of their employees work flexibly. Try to put them in an indirect way. Once you’re offered the job, explain them why you might need to do it on a flexible basis. Be realistic and don’t ask for a degree of flexibility which clearly will not work for the kind of job you are applying for.
5) Be Flexible – As you are at a disadvantage at this stage, being flexible is a good idea. Don’t make your decisions basis the compensation and be negotiable. But that does not mean you let yourself be treated as a cheap labour. Agree to a compensation which is at par the experience and industry standards. Meanwhile, if the organisation belongs to the emerging high-growth sectors or is a smaller firm, pay attention to the job profile and prospects and not on the size of the organisation. Lastly, invest in yourself and in your career. Ditch the guilt. Find people and resources who can help.
Keep making progress everyday. Because, your career is forever!