Can Maternity Leave Be The Best Time For Your Career Development?

Robin Mitchell, Career Coach and Certified Career Money Life Supplier, shares her thoughts on how to develop your career  while on maternity leave.

Yes, I know what you are thinking . . . how could that be when I’m averaging 2 hours sleep a night? And that’s on a good night!

How could that be when I don’t get any time to myself? Ever.

Well, before you start throwing things at me, I’m not suggesting that you attempt to develop your career in the first 3 months of baby’s life, but perhaps after that, when you start feeling a little more in control of the new situation.

Here are some simple steps to move forward

RESEARCH

First thing to ask yourself is “What do I really want to be doing when I return to work? Am I returning to same-same or do I want something different? At work what do I do well? What do I want more of? What do I want less of? And if so, what companies would I like to work for? What is essential?”

UPSKILLING

Next question to ask is, “What qualifications or upskilling do I need to do, if I am to change careers, change direction or develop in my current role when I return to work? What short online courses can I do whilst I am at home? Can I find a course that I could do in small steps?”

BRANDING

We’ve all heard this word and what does it mean for me, a currently at-home mum? What does it mean to “brand yourself?”

From a random Google search –

“Branding yourself means making yourself visible, and communicating via all avenues your personal values and what you stand for, with total clarity and consistency. It’s especially important to highlight your uniqueness in some easy to remember way, so people will think of you and what you do, in case they need your product or service.”

Branding is the perception others have of you in a variety of situations. How do you sell yourself? So how do I simply brand my professional self if I am at home all the time?

  • Branding yourself might mean organising a sitter and being present at a short training your work is holding.
  • Branding might be mentioning to influential work people that you are studying a ‘such and such’ course to bring yourself up to speed when you return to work
  • Branding might be putting a photo on Facebook of you and a work friend having coffee to “discuss the changes in your industry”
  • Branding on Facebook might be a pic of you and baby enjoying the sunshine while you read a book or article, with the caption ‘Studying (or trying to!!) for my first assessment in Widget Making’
  • Branding might be putting a short post on your Linkedin profile about your current research on changes in your industry (Yes, do make sure your Linkedin profile is kept up-to-date. With the right keywords, it’s read by a lot of recruiters!)

COFFEE (aka NETWORKING)

Networking is linked to branding also. Am I arranging occasional coffee catch-ups with people from work? Or if I am planning to change career direction, am I having coffee with people who can give me advice? Helps if they are influential in the industry you’re seeking.

Just a thought . . .

Read More from Robin

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