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From parent to worker – how to manage the change

A father looks at a laptop while holding a child on his lap

Get tips on how to tackle returning to work after parental leave.

Returning to paid work after parenting can feel like starting all over again, or moving to an unfamiliar country. You might feel uncertain and stressed about it, but a little preparation can make all the difference.

Figure out what you want to do

The first thing you need to do is decide what you’d like to do. For example:

  • Do you have a previous career you want to return to?
  • Are you starting paid work for the first time?
  • Is it time to do something new (make a career change)?
  • Do you need to retrain?

Once you have your goal in mind, work on a plan for achieving it.

This should include deciding:

  • what type of work you’d like to do
  • when you’re available to start work (or study)
  • what hours you’re available for work. If you still have a busy home life, look out for employers who provide flexible options and are sympathetic to parents returning to work
  • how you want to work. For example, you might work from home (remotely), part time, do more than one job (a portfolio career), or study part time while working.

Refresh your CV

You also need to make sure your CV is up to date. As a parent returning to work, you may be worried about gaps in your employment, but it’s important to remember that you:

  • can mention unpaid work, involvement in community groups, and any other activities you’ve been involved in. These can provide you with good referees too
  • probably have transferable skills from other areas of your life. For example, personal management skills you’ve gained through parenting could include time management, maintaining schedules, planning and organising, and responding quickly in emergencies
  • can format your CV as skills-based, which puts the emphasis on your skills rather than your work history.

Make the most of your contacts

Remember that finding work is less work if you have help. Help and support includes financial assistance if it’s available, your contacts and social networks, and potential referees. Make sure you explore all avenues in your job search.

Updated 23 Jan 2019