Advanced search

3 year career break finding it hard to get back to work

(25 Posts)
Yummymummya Wed 06-Aug-14 21:23:52

Hi all

I have been off for around 3 years since having my toe children quite close together. Now aged 2 and 3 I am trying to return to work but had not imagined how hard it would be.

I can't help feeling a bit of discrimination, just because I have been out of the workplace for a few years does not mean I have lost my brain and the ability to do my job.

I'm a qualified accountant and worked in the investment industry but have made numerous applications and heard absolutely nothing. It's very disheartening.

I am explaining in my cover letter that I have kept up to date with my skills by attending courses and working as a company secretary. I wonder if I'm being too honest.

Any advice would be much appreciated - if you have been in the same situation, if there are any tips on the cv or cover letter.

Thank you very much!

boogiewoogie Wed 06-Aug-14 22:05:34

I am not an accountant so I don't know how much weighting my comments will have. I've been an SAHM for 4 years after resigning from a teaching post and have recently started applying for various roles that isn't teaching. The only things I have heard back from are agencies and I have signed up with them. No work as yet as I signed up in the summer term where the academic year is wrapping up.

I could be wrong but I think it may be more difficult in your field as it is highly competitive. I am guessing that you need more specialist advice from mners who are in the Accounting and Finance sector. Could you try signing up with agencies who specialise in finance?

Sending you well wishes for your job hunting.

MATB1 Wed 06-Aug-14 22:16:56

Are you on linkedin? Networking can be good. Can you get in touch with old colleagues?

I try to mention "maternity" and "children" as little as possible at work, which pisses me off, but I feel it's important to keep work and personal lives separate. Easier said than done when you need to explain a gap.

Good luck though. It is tough.

isaterror Thu 07-Aug-14 09:26:42

I'm going through exactly the same thing albeit in the marketing and brand industry, prior to taking 2.5 years off work and becoming a mum I could generally get an interview at the drop of a hat as I worked for some of the biggest names in retail, now when i make applications I either hear nothing or receive the occasional rejection email. Its maddening. I can't even get an interview for a lower paid contract role to get my foot in the door. Sorry, I can't offer any help just offering sympathy and that its not just you going through it.

Thinking of changing my covering letters to highlight the fact that I won't be having another baby as that's the only other reason (other than losing my brain) that i can assume that employers may not be interested.

I'm currently thinking about starting up my own business although in what I don't know! Have you thought about doing accountancy on a freelance basis? Good luck. X

Yummymummya Thu 07-Aug-14 14:04:48

Thank you everyone - its clear its a bit of a problem out there for mums returning to work and its unfair we are probably viewed as being a problematic choice and sometimes overlooked.

Boogiewoogie, have signed up to a few agencies but surprisingly even they express their fear at finding something for me which is worrying and also really soul destroying. Honestly if they dont hold out much hope is there any??!

isaterror, am thinking about freelance actually or maybe setting up something myself unrelated…recruitment maybe. Good luck with yours its such a shame to see a big change in attitude since having a family. I am certain I am being overlooked for this reason as although my industry is competitive there are jobs out there and in the downturn I got a job and had a lot of interviews and interest. Shame its not like that now.

MATB1 I am on linkedin, thanks keep meaning to talk to more ex colleagues as this is probably the best hope for me right now.

I feel I need to keep trying as its only been about a month.

Good luck to everyone. Hopefully someone out there will see the positives and take a chance.

Gen35 Thu 07-Aug-14 16:35:24

Try the public sector and quasi public sector such as universities, they hired several women while I was there that had previously been sah and we're able to work pt/8-4 etc. I said I had a 2 yr maternity break and no one raised an eyebrow. Of course, it helps to be a bit over-qualified for what you're going for.

Yummymummya Fri 08-Aug-14 10:15:41

Thanks Gen35, good idea, will look at that.

maggiethemagpie Sun 10-Aug-14 16:17:41

Just wanted to say sorry to everyone going through this. I applied for a job after being on mat leave for a year and lied, said I was still working and prayed no one would find out (as I was still employed 'on paper' so wouldn't show on ref). Luckily they haven't yet, and shouldn't do but it's a shame I felt I had to lie. I had a feeling it would count against me if they knew I'd been out of work for a year and looking at these threads it seems I may have been right. Hope you can all find jobs soon, what a bitch to build up a career and then struggle to get back in for the sake of a few years off looking after your kids

Shenton Mon 11-Aug-14 13:34:31

I honestly think you'd be better off putting a prison spell on your CV than maternity leave.

shalapeshwari Tue 12-Aug-14 21:35:20

I am also a accountant looking to return after a long break (longer than yours) and am struggling ... there do seem to be part time roles out there but no interviews yet for those I have applied for, which I have found hard to handle as that never happened prior to my break. I have fallen behind with my CPD so may look at improving that in the interim - have you kept yours up to date ?

mandy214 Thu 14-Aug-14 10:10:12

I think the difficulty is that there has been a massive shift in the work environment in the last 3 or 4 years - certainly from a marketing point of view with the use of social media etc - and to a certain extent with the "professions". That, combined with someone who on paper will potentially have to leave to pick up children / might not be able to do the traditional networking / business development that is required / might take a while to get back up to speed is not really a massively attractive option. Can you really emphasise what you've been doing - really strengthen that part up and include it on your CV rather than just in your covering letter? I think some employers jump straight to the CV.

Emiah26 Mon 15-Sep-14 00:23:22

Hi I just been going through the same thing after having 2.5 years off looking after little one and I have been study too. I found the following things have helped me to finally hopefully get a job

- Use the free Cv review or get someine you know to look over it. Employers look for bullet points and quick easy reading
- Say in your personal statement and cover letter the reason for the gap in employment and that while looking after little one you studied and what courses. This helped alot as employers see a gap with no explanation and write you off straight away I have found.
- Look and apply for jobs everyday
- Include in personal statement your future goals
- Your Cv and cover letter needs to be adjusted according to the job spec you are applying for, so may be a good idea to have more than one or just ensure you show your experience with the job spec in mind as this what skills and attributes they looking for in the right person
- The main one is don't give up, there is someone out who will give us mum's a chance to prove our worth in the interview stage and see we are amazing. Good luck, hope that helps

madamemuddle Tue 16-Sep-14 07:29:43

I've been doing something 'different' for the last couple of years but I've been having the same problem.

I think one of the problems is that there are fewer jobs out there. The ones that do exist seem to be more responsible for less money. Salaries at the moment depress me. God forbid if you have done anything else other than work for a month or so!

My advice is keep plugging away and keep the maternity leave discussions to a minimum. Public sector have a far higher proportion of women and they are generally a bit more understanding.

evilsquirrell Tue 07-Oct-14 13:16:25

Thank u for starting this one Yummy, I'm in this situation too albeit trying to go back after a 3 year break, but during that time I completed a Masters in Surveying (hardest thing I've ever done - including childbirth!) and undertook a couple of internships in this field. I knew I was choosing a male dominated industry but had no idea how utterly utterly ridiculously hard it would be to get in. Didn't even try part time cause there was absolutely no point! I've had a strong career in project/programme management, am on linked in and have many contacts. Been for one interview with the local authority which was awful. I used to get interviews at a drop of a hat. Am now applying for admin jobs to get a foot in the door but no luck as of yet. Have taken to not putting all my experience on applications anymore! Don't have the confidence to try going solo anymore. Would not have done this if I had realised how bl..dy hard it would have been to get back in, I did take masses of advice on this and no one warned about the issues of mums getting back to work, I do feel that more honest advice would benefit others thinking about this. Just holding onto the fact that the time spent with DS will make up for this and in a few years time it will have sorted itself out.

Therealyellowwiggle Tue 07-Oct-14 13:28:46

Why would anyone put a maternity leave down on a CV, if you had the same employer before and after it? It's not a gap in employment. I can see there's more of a problem if you've been out of work, or away for several years, but ML doesn't need to be mentioned at all.

sixlive Tue 07-Oct-14 21:40:00

I've just got a job after 9 months of looking after 8 years of being a SAHM. I've changed career with a big pay cut and it is public sector. It is very tough, I found once I got to interview stage I was normally fine. You do have to aim at a lower level and businesses need to feel they are getting value for money I.e. An over skilled person to compensate for the years not working. Although you can't win as I reached the final two for one job and was told I was overqualified so didn't get it.

boogiewoogie Tue 07-Oct-14 22:42:59

I have just started a new job after 4 years as an SAHM but the current role is half of what I used to earn for similar hours.

I don't know whether you are prepared to take a pay cut but for me, it was a way of making use of my time and skills again in a relevant area rather than getting back on the career ladder and earning and income.

How do you feel about teaching accountancy? There may be colleges who want people in the industry with specialised knowledge.

justcakes Wed 08-Oct-14 13:08:35

I've just read about companies who hire 'returnships' - ie mums wanting to return to the workforce. This might be a good way in, but you may have to lower your expectations on job level and be flexible on job type.

It's so sad and unfortunate employers don't quite grasp the true value of mums and just how capable we all are! They could have a very valuable and loyal resource if they only offered support and the right environment.

You should not be made to feel guilty about having given up your career for kids.

Getting in touch with previous colleagues may be a better way in also, and just talking to people and letting everyone know you're looking for work. It's really tiring but spread the word and hopefully someone will come knocking at your door.

Good luck!

MmeMorrible Wed 08-Oct-14 13:17:54

Try smaller but high quality companies that specialise in a niche area of your industry.

My consultancy company fits this description and I have employed several members of staff who left magic circle firms to take extended mat leave or would who prefer to remain part time which still seems to be frowned on by the big name firms.

We're delighted to have the opportunity to take on such well qualified experienced staff and our flexible working benefits mean that they remain very loyal to us.

Umita Wed 08-Oct-14 18:10:40


It sounds like you might need to take a bit of an unconventional approach. I recently made a huge career change from Aerospace to online marketplaces, and I found that applying to jobs that were already posted was a dead end. The following process worked for me.

1) Start by identifying the characteristics of your ideal job
2) Use non-traditional resources to identify companies that you would LOVE to work for. (The word LOVE here is important, because passion goes a long way toward enticing a hiring manager to respond)
3) Use tools like LinkedIn to find people that are in line roles at the company. HR and placement agencies ARE NOT your friend when you have an unconventional work history. They will try and pigeon-hole you into specific roles.
4) Write love letters directly to the people in these organizations. But do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, highlight your weaknesses in these letters. These letters should be about the organization, and why their companies are amazing. Channel your inner American.

This process worked wonders for me. You will be surprised with the response.

Also, it's worth applying to companies that are a bit more forward thinking. These two resources are pretty great for finding entrepreneurial companies that need a bit of help.

1. Venture Loop: publish a daily job board

Hope this helps.


Yummymummya Mon 09-Feb-15 14:14:07

Thank you for these. Will check out those sites. Fingers crossed!

mrsdoing Sat 21-Feb-15 14:36:05

I am having more or less the same problem . . . I took a 7 yrs break, and when I decided it was time to get back to work it was really difficult. Even though I have a degree in Business.
Finally I gave up on my hope of finding something at that level.
I followed the advised a friend gave me, and started doing volunteering, and eventually I got a full time job as clerk with the local council. I am still miles away from where I want to be, but I won't give up. I have decided to change career so just recently I started AAT training (level 2).
It is not easy, honestly there are days when I question myself if I am doing the right thing, why bother?? I could 'easily' just be a SAHM, just be careful with the money; but I want to try and get somewhere myself.
I may be wrong, I don't know . .
But yes, I am tired and sometimes my children (11 and 14) do not understand why I can not watch a tv show with them, or play wii games . . I need time to study or to catch up with the housework, or just plain and simple: I am tired.
Sorry if this has nothing to do with the original question, but I just needed to say it.

Jackieharris Sat 21-Feb-15 14:45:24

Oh this thread is depressing!

My advice: don't mention mat leave on applications.

If you did any work whilst a sahm, whether at home hobby work, helping with DPs or family business I'd put that you were self employed doing that and use a vague job title.

See the thread about how much emergency childcare leave for dick kids some mums take to see why employers run a mile from anyone they think is a mum.

Christinayang1 Sun 22-Feb-15 09:00:41


I was in the sane position, I got out of it by volunteering...was the only way I could get an update to date ref etc

lilacmamacat Tue 24-Feb-15 10:27:40

Have a look at and their blog

See if you can find a specialist recruitment agency - and from my experience, the smaller the better, because they will actually treat you like an individual.

Have you been in contact with your previous employer? Do this with a view to getting some 'advice' from them rather than asking directly for a job, which could come across as too pushy or desperate. LinkedIn is great for this so long as you keep active on it - join relevant groups and comment or post information or recommendations, eg. I do lots of on-line courses and I post a link to any that are relevent to my profession. It keeps your contacts aware of you and your (professional!) availability.

Go to the next MumsNet WorkFest. I went last year and it was a real eye-opener - I found a lot of the things I was doing were out of date, and I got a load of new resources to follow up - including the WomenReturners blog which is excellent.

I was made redundant about a year before I had my DS and since then have had a pt job in retail which I also got made redundant from. To cover all this, I have "career break" on my CV. I don't mention my DS or my pt retail job at all.

When I talk about my past (in letter or at interviews) I start with my degree, talk about the positions I had, briefly mention that I had a baby and worked in a shop, talk about the fact that I did a variety of courses while I have been unemployed, and end with an upbeat where-I-want-to-go-next. The best piece of advice I got from WorkFest was this: don't make your story revolve around your period out of work.

In the 3 interviews I've had since I adopted that approach, I've been asked about my career break but I never felt that I was being judged. It's been more a case of the interviewer being curious and once they got a brief explanation, I got the impression that it was a pretty minor point in terms of my employability.

Er... that was longer than I'd planned. Hope it helps.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now