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Get to know your professional self (again) and the rest will follow

Posted on 5/03/2018 by Marie Swarbreck

Get to know your professional self (again) and the rest will follow

by Nerice Gietel

Nine months after our daughter was born and an even longer time after my last day in full-time paid employment, I went on a junk with my husband, our daughter, two other couples and their children. I had been thinking since we moved to Hong Kong -  three months earlier - about going back to work. My CV was updated and I had registered myself with a few recruitment agencies.  I saw this junk as a great opportunity to meet a few new people in Hong Kong and perhaps get a feel for the labour market here.

                                                                            street art

As we were sailing the other parents and I talked at great length about the joys and challenges of being a mother, sleepless nights, weaning, and everything else parenting related.

When everyone went to swim, a small group of us stayed behind on the junk, including a very well-connected figure from the corporate sector. I thought, this is my chance to find out about the business world here in Hong Kong. However, I had no clue as to where to begin, what to ask or even how to continue the conversation that we were having earlier so we just sat there in silence.

Looking back now, I realise that at that time I had not yet resolved for myself what I wanted to do professionally. I was telling myself that I am open to all possibilities but in fact my ideas were a jumble of things I could probably do based on previous work experience but had no enthusiasm for; alternatively, there were things I wanted to try out but lacked the confidence to pursue.

In other words, whilst I was ready to be seen again as a professional as well as a mother, I had no real idea of the type of professional I wanted to be seen as.

                                                                            Woman, bus passenger

Fast forward to now - 10 months after that junk - I know what I am doing is what I want to be doing right now.  I discovered this through doing a language course which got me out of the house and learning again and talking to numerous friends about my plans to start working here in Hong Kong. I also spent many hours working out for myself what I wanted to do. This involved me not just thinking about my skills and qualifications but also carefully considering what I wanted to get out of a job at this particular time in my life.

The more I got to know my professional self again, the better and the more convincingly I was able to articulate this to others.

In this blog, I will be writing a series of articles about returning to employment after a career break.

In addition to these online materials, I have developed the Re-Engage with your Career program for Fleximums. This program consists of a series of ‘offline’ gatherings aimed at supporting women in their journey back to work. As well as highlighting practical skills to help the search, these gatherings will be an opportunity to share experiences and support others.  We will be launching the first program with a workshop on March 6th, 2018. It will be an opportunity for all those who are thinking of returning to work to have conversations about their new professional selves.