Source |Jobsforher.com |Schonali Rebello
Women all over the world have done their fair share of sacrifice for the sake of their families and those that they love. And, in doing so, they have enjoyed their choice for varied amounts of time, depending on their individual situations and personalities.
However, when they do choose to return to the working world, if they do, they find that they are at a disadvantage when faced with its current pace and identity, which has evolved during their time away.
There are 3 main skills that a woman needs to retain during her career break, which are sure to deteriorate if not exercised, maintained, and flexed in some way, while she isn’t actively pursuing a career path. These skills, if looked after and developed during your career break, will be a direct shoe-in for any job role that you choose to pursue when you decide to re-enter the workforce.
I’m talking about the skills of:
2) Communication, and
3) Everyday Technology
If you stepped away from the game when you were just about acing it – on the cusp of getting that corner office or already in it, in hot pursuit of the C-suite or aspiring to it – then you were a leader in the making and a leader you must remain. We have seen too many women with so much fabulous experience, and such lofty accolades and qualifications, reduced to a bundle of nerves and self-doubt when trying to make their comeback into the corporate world, without any reason to be, WHATSOEVER.
What we do know is that even a break as short as 6 months can severely dwindle a woman’s self-confidence, whereas this would never happen with a man. (Mainly because most men would never take a break for that long from their careers. But never mind. I digress.) This is not beauty parlour chit-chat; this is research-based, scientific fact. And therefore, a woman must do what she can to keep her self-confidence and self-esteem flag flying high while she does the (often unnoticed and thankless) work that needs to be done on the home-front.
So, here are ways to nurture and grow these skills during your time away.
The best way to maintain your leadership acumen and style would be to engage yourself in activities that will hone it.
a) Join the administrative board of your residence/street/neighbourhood/religious institution,
b) Volunteer with a local NGO/NPO that’s easy to commit a few hours to per day or week,
c) Get involved in your child’s PTA at school, etc.
These are great places to sharpen your project management, team building, and conflict resolution expertise – all the skills of a great leader.
It is more important to prove this to yourself during your break than anything else, because the first person to whom it matters – is you.
If YOU believe in yourself then others will automatically follow suit.
It is almost always the case that when we leave a career behind, we also leave a whole other way of communication behind, too. We are different people at work; we speak differently than we would with our family at home, we use very different body language, we wear different thinking caps, we visualize our goals differently, we reach out to others differently, we assess others differently. And different is usually good. Therefore, this is not a skill that we should allow to deteriorate just because we have chosen to take a break from the rat-race for a little while.
A great way to keep up your communication skills would be to involve yourself consciously and constantly in the communication of these boards and organizations where you are helping out. Keep the tone professional because that is always the path of least confusion.
– Strive to edit your writing on a daily basis,
– Keep abreast of changing trends in communication styles,
– Try and catch up with your old colleagues every now and then to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your old career, and its lingo too!
Staying relevant verbally and in your writing will do wonders for your self-confidence when you choose to restart your career.
3. Computers & Everyday Technology
The third and last skill-set that we find women who have taken a long break from working drastically need to polish up are everyday technology/computer skills. There is no getting away from the online world, today; whether we like it or not, it’s here to stay, and stay for a while. Therefore, knowing one’s way around a computer and being savvy with current techno-speak is imperative for women on a career break.
The best way to flex that muscle and keep it alive is to volunteer at a company a few times a week in a non-demanding role that isn’t deadline-intensive or stressful in any way, but allows you to use a computer at work, with a team. You will quickly learn from the others what to do and what not to do, what tools work best for what requirement, how to optimize your research online, and how to lessen your workload, with the help of technology.
Computer comprehension is the primary language of today’s working world, and every woman should master it to the best of her ability.