How to use maternity leave to benefit your career

maternity leave

We often lose our confidence after being out of the workplace for a while. But employers much prefer keeping trained-up, integrated existing staff, and will really support you if you show initiative. Here’s how.

1. Network with working mums

As you get to know local mums, meet up with others who plan to go back. You’ll keep your confidence in a social and professional environment, while swapping handy tips!

2. Update your CV

Add your current role to your CV. Include skills, knowledge and experience of your current role. Here are some tips on scrubbing up your CV.

3. Use the library

Ask your library to get onto free/cheap local training – from computer skills to First Aid. Borrow books about your profession to read while baby’s feeding or napping.

4. Keep informed

Join online forums that discuss being a working mum. You’ll find out what to prepare for and how others have dealt with situations.

5. Get a public profile

Join/update your profile on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. Connect with your colleagues, past and present, then all your past and present clients. It’ll help maintain and build relationships.

6. Keep updated

Use social and professional networking feeds to keep up to date on what clients and competitors are doing. Read business or work magazines too, where you can.

7. Attend business events

Organisations like WorkingMums have an annual conference with reams of useful information and a crèche. Websites like Ecademy provide details of free business events. Just keeping your hand in will keep you professional, and you’ll be surprised how inspiring and useful they can be.

8. Plan childcare

Think about childcare early, even if it’s way off. You’ll get to know the person or organisation over a long period, and be more confident when you finally part with your little one. This’ll take the worry out of childcare and free your mind for work. Here are some tips on how to choose childcare.

9. Tidy your systems

If you can log on remotely, tidy up your email and files. There’s never time once you’re back in the office, and it’ll get you planning ahead.

10. Keep close to colleagues

Meet colleagues for lunch/coffee where you can, and keep in touch by phone and email. It’ll be much easier to come back without feeling left out. Plus your colleagues will look out for you and keep you in the loop.

11. Go to the socials

Where possible, don’t miss out on corporate drinks and company lunches. It’ll keep you across what’s going on internally and ensure you’re not forgotten about – plus you’ll feel better for a breather from your domestic role, too!

12. Ask for training

Get included in existing training sessions. Often companies pay for the trainer, so adding more people is no extra cost. Request specific additional or refresher courses where it’ll help you.

13. Attend corporate events

Once you’re out of the new baby period, try to attend corporate meetings. You’ll keep across what changes are happening and what they’re aiming to achieve – so can align your work plan with the corporate direction.

14. Negotiate your hours

Negotiate what hours you’ll work in advance. Remember, you can change your mind from what you originally proposed before your baby was born. Here’s a guide to some of your basic entitlements as a working parent, and some tips on how to negotiate flexible working as your children grow. The DirectGov website will also explain what you’re entitled to.

15. Make a personal plan

Draft a plan for when you go back, setting yourself specific targets. Plan deadlines that you can work to and allow for settling back in. Do make sure it ties in with your company/team objectives. Arrange a meeting with your line manager to agree your plan and keep your targets in line with theirs. By the time you’re done you’ll be eager to get back!