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This is our very own blog, where you can find out what's going on in the run-up to WorkFest. We'll update you on all the behind the scenes activity at WorkFest HQ and share our latest news and exciting announcements.


02/06/14 - Calling all women: a 'starting your own business' session  made just for you. 

Alex Ritchie

Come and join Alex Ritchie at WorkFest, who will be presenting a multitude of helpful tips and practical advice based around her indispensable guide "Starting a Business in 7 Simple Steps."

Find out more about Alex's own business ventures and her tailored session for WorkFest here


29/05/14 - How do I find my way back to work? 

Julianne Miles

If you’ve planning to return to work after a career break you might be concerned that recruitment methods have changed and you don’t know how to find a new role.  The internet is increasingly used as a method for both advertising vacancies and seeking out candidates, but don’t think that you’ll find a new role simply by sitting at your computer and firing off CVs.  Although people do find roles this way, it is reactive and can be isolating and you will be ignoring many other routes to your ideal role

As a returner, you will need to be creative, persistent, prepared to network and Katerina Gouldclear about the role you are seeking, but it is possible to find a satisfying role that fits with the rest of your life.  Potential routes to find the right role for you include:

Freelancing - Sarah* formerly a market research agency director became a freelance researcher for her previous employer as a first step to marketing herself as an extra resource to other agencies.  

Associate work - if you have a specific skill or expertise that you want to offer, associate work can provide advantages over freelancing: as an associate, the company you contract with is normally responsible for winning new work. However, companies which use associates rarely guarantee the amount of work and so having different associate relationships can provide necessary variety. 

Returnships & project work – These are a very new concept which we are championing in the UK: returning professional internships. You are paid to work for a fixed period (2-6 months) on commercially-valuable projects, with training support and the possibility of a permanent role at the end.  Although only one returnship programme is operating currently, we are working with a number of large organisations to design programmes and hope to be able to announce more in the coming months.  Until then, you could always consider creating your own, by offering to work on a short-term project with a view to both you and the contracting organisation assessing whether you’d like to make the arrangement permanent.

Interim roles - joining an organisation in a defined role for a defined time can be a great way to use your skills and experience without making a long-term commitment to returning to work. Opportunities arise as cover for maternity and long-term sickness and also when organisations are in transition and need someone on a temporary basis.  While there are established interim management agencies, you are likely to have more success finding these kinds of roles through networking.

Skilled or strategic volunteering - Amy*, a former City lawyer, chose to volunteer in the legal department of a major national charity as her route back to work.  She started out advising on contracts which was her expertise and after a while negotiated a move into the trusts and legacies team.  Here she was able to build up the right experience to apply for permanent paid roles as a private client lawyer in private practice, her ideal new role.

And finally, there is the option of starting your own business.  Sometimes this can develop from freelancing or project work and sometimes you have an idea for a product or service you want to develop.  A business can develop from a hobby, as it did for the woman who made my new curtains and for Helen* who now combines her PR and communication expertise with her business partner's film-making skills to create personal and corporate videos. 

You can read examples of women who’ve used these routes on the success stories page of our blog. We’ll also be giving further practical tips at our Workfest session on Returning to Work after a Break. We have a second session on ways to tackle your fears, worries and guilt about going back to work.

*names have been changed

By Katerina Gould & Julianne Miles, Women Returners. www.womenreturners.com 

25/05/14 "I left Workfest positively brimming with enthusiasm, it gave me the boost I needed to get back out there and believe in myself."

Men with children consistently earn more than those without, while women with or without kids earn less, a study finds. Former stay-at-home mother Jean Marshall explains the reality of 'the mummy tax and the daddy bonus' and how she took the plunge back into work, all with a little help from Mumsnet WorkFest. Read the full Telegraph feature here.

21/05/14 - "Motherhood can be a catalyst for change."

In the June issue of Baby & Me magazine, Workfest panelists Gaby Hinsliff, Sara Bennison and Esther Stanhope discuss how modern motherhood has become a time for career evaulation. Read the full interview here

25/03/14 - Stop Thinking & Start Doing: Returning to Work after a Long Break

Julianne MilesWhen I was on a career break after my first career in strategy/marketing, I decided that I wanted a career change. I knew that I wanted to do something that was more flexible than my old role, but still satisfying, and spent many hours dreaming and chatting with friends about what this might be. One month a friend and I got excited about importing baby equipment from Australia … then a few months later I was inspired to set up a family-focused travel agency … then it was a flexible after-school childcare business ... then retraining as a psychologist. I was never short of ideas but the interesting Katerina Gouldthing was that the more options I thought of, and the more I talked about them and researched them endlessly on the internet, the more problems I could see and the further I became from actually doing any of them. 

What got me out of this going-nowhere cycle was signing up for an Introduction to Psychology evening class and actually finding a few psychologists to talk to about what they did. Only then did I feel sure that this was what I wanted to do and that it wasn’t just another career fantasy.

The Overthinking Trap

I’ve now worked with many women considering what to do after a career break and many of them fall into this overthinking trap. We get fooled that we can think ourselves into a decision when what we really need to do is to start taking practical actions. And I don’t mean firing off your CV when you’re not yet sure what you want to do – it’s about finding ways to try out your options before deciding where you want to commit.  Professor Herminia Ibarra in her career change book ‘Working Identity’ calls this a ‘test & learn’ approach. She warns that waiting to act until you know what to do next can keep you stuck: “Doing comes first, knowing second”. 

Some Ways to ‘Test & Learn’

If you’re wondering whether to go back to your old company/field: Get back in touch with old colleagues for an initial exploratory chat; ask about small projects or freelance work; take a refresher course.

If you’re not sure if you want to do something new: Find people who are doing the job - go to an industry event or look for friends of friends – and talk to them about their roles; take a short course; do related voluntary work or find/create an internship.

And if you’re thinking of setting up a business, find some entrepreneurs to talk to or go to a start-up workshop like Start Up Saturday.

For more ideas see our return-to-work success stories.

As I learnt, it is more doing not more thinking that will get you clearer on the route you want to take.

Come along to our workshops at Workfest 2014 for more advice, including practical return-to-work planning and ways to tackle your fears, worries and guilt about going back to work.

By Julianne Miles & Katerina Gould, Women Returners (www.womenreturners.com)



12/06/13 - "NOTHING kills a career like walking away from it - or so we're always told."

Gaby HinsliffRead an inspiring and uplifiting blog from our keynote speaker Gaby Hinsliff, as she addresses the three key reasons as to why it might be easier to get back into work.

Julianne Miles has also written an interesting and motivational blog about, the steps women should take to help them get back into work.




Keep an eye on this space for more updates on the progress of WorkFest 2015. And if you're keen to join us, register now.