The hiring process should be equitable, and many companies in the finance sector are working at equalising the playing field with Returnships – programmes in which people can return to work after a break where they might have raised a family or cared for loved ones.  

Want to get back to work after a period of leave but struggle to get your foot in the door? Here are our top tips:

Take time to recognise your value

The skills you have developed out of work are not only important for your personal life – they’re also valuable to the workplace. Empathy is a skill that is too often overlooked when people write their CVs!

Listening, empathy and creative thinking might be classified as ‘soft skills’, but they can still make the person who has them superhuman!

Nevertheless, if you are feeling out of touch and need an industry knowledge boost, we recommend Returners get their feet wet again with a Professional Development Course. The Chartered Association of Business Schools offers plenty of options on its website as the first port of call.  

Work on your Rolodex

Start right from the moment you think about returning to work. To build a great network, think broadly and consider all the people you meet. You might find other Women Returners on your programme. If not, why not look for them on professional networking sites like LinkedIn? Having a support network will help you to navigate and forge new paths for your career.

Set boundaries

Now is not the time to be shy and retiring. You’ve come too far in life for that – so speak up. If you want to take your kids to school in the morning, make it clear. If you need flexible working hours, work with your line manager to develop a solution that will benefit you and the company.

Know that you’re in your rights to stay ambitious

Many who return to work after a period of leave think that they’ll have to work your way up the company ladder again, or that they missed your chance to get to the top, but don’t set your sights too low.

Remember those professional ambitions you had when you started your first job? Keep aiming for them. The only difference between the ‘you’ before you took leave and the ‘you’ after is that you now have a whole new set of experiences that make you stronger in character and add to your skills.

That’s not to say that you should only accept the ‘perfect’ job. Don’t wait around for good things to happen; if you see an opportunity that looks promising, we recommend that you get your foot in the door. Roles evolve in house. 

Be kind to yourself

You’re ‘out of practice’, so understand that returning to work could have a physical as well as a mental impact on you. To help you ease into the working world again, try to reduce the psychological pressure of imagining it as your ‘last chance’. Instead, think of the Returnship as a test to see whether you’re ready to go back to work.

Women Returnships – A Success Story

In 2016, Emma Bowman wanted to return to work after having and bringing up her children. Even five years ago, she had to face the frustrations of algorithm-driven online job application pages that automatically reject CVs with career gaps.

Emma’s friend told her about Returnships, and she found the organisation Women Returners, which specialises in enabling professional women to return to work after an extended career break. It remains in operation today.

Emma was hired by Deutsche Bank as one of their first Returners and worked with the Global Head of FOREX Research on projects, including setting up a series of TED Talks and producing a leadership magazine which engaged the brightest ‘ideas people’ at the bank. After completing Deutsche Bank’s Returnship, she was headhunted by Lloyds Bank where her role and career continue to evolve. She is currently COO Global Corporate.


Are you thinking of taking a leap back into work, and has this article helped you make your decision? Contact us, or follow us on social media, and let’s keep the conversation going!