Back in my corporate life, I remember when I was doing exit interview for a high performing woman Roopa (name changed). She was a great performer, overachieving her targets, winning award after award and was a role model for many in the organisation however she was quitting!! Her line manager and I persuaded her a lot, tried to show her the bright future waiting for her but she had made up her mind. She was moving with her husband who was getting transferred to another city. And she wanted to take care of her elderly parents in law at home in new place!!!

Every woman has a different reason and unique need to take a break from the job. As per the available research, most of the women leave their jobs during the INTIMACY – age 21 to 35- stage of adulthood when they are required to nurture their family. (Psychoanalyst Erik H. Erikson outlines three stages of adulthood: intimacy, generativity, and integrity). However returning to work is never so easy!!

Whether returning as a freelancer, part time or full time, the decision to return to work after a long gap, is not easy. Just the thought of going back to work life throws challenges in her mind. Today Organisations are extending a big help to second career women like friendly HR policies, transitioning processes, flexible timings, crèches, extended maternity leaves etc. However nothing is adequate unless women returning back take charge of themselves. Basis my corporate HR experience and coaching various women, would like to share 5A model which may be useful for women thinking of second career:

Ascertain:  Make sure that you have asked yourself the following 5 questions:

  1. Is this my own decision or a decision in discussion with family?
  2. Who will take care of chores that I have been managing being at home?
  3. What kind of challenges may come in my absence and how will I deal with them?
  4. What kind of support team I need and how do I create it?
  5. What kind of processes I can create at home so that dependency is much lesser on my physical presence?

Assess:  Check out the following 5 important aspects

  1. How serious am I about my career – am I looking at a long term career?
  2. Do I want a full time assignment or part time?
  3. What kind of job am I passionate about?
  4. Is the organisation gender friendly, open to welcoming second career women, orientation – induction plan etc.
  5. What are my strengths which I can play with? Does my CV capture that?

Assure yourself:  Boost your morale by telling yourself everyday FIVE times – I have done in the past and I can do it!! Others have done I can also do it!!

Ability:  Build your knowledge/expertise by doing the following:

  1. Up skilling – acquire a new skill or brush up earlier skill set
  2. Practise mock interviews with an expert
  3. Read!! Research!! Just know everything about the changing business environment, VUCA world
  4. Connect up with ex colleagues/ex bosses/friends working in companies
  5. Learn lessons from second career women – successful as well as drop outs

Apparition:  Focus on your presence, create your personal brand

  1. Create first impression – check the need to revamp your wardrobe, utilise regular Salon services
  2. Build online presence – write blogs, participate in online discussions on linked in, Twitter etc
  3. Ensure your mail account is active – start using it regularly
  4. Start talking about yourself, past accomplishments, your ideas/opinions in social gatherings
  5. Choose your job carefully the one which aligns with your values and beliefs and meets your needs

Also, it is extremely important that you take feedback, criticism in your stride, be consistent with your efforts in this 5A journey!! This will prepare you; equip you to deal with challenges even better.

Building yourself using 5A model is like planting a tree. Once you lay the groundwork and plant the seeds, you’ll be in a great position to eventually reap the benefits. However, we need to remember that it still takes time and dedication to reach your destination!!

Good news is that Roopa took up a part time assignment in the new city on up skilling womenJ

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