The experience of job hunting after a 10 year gap

This is a repost of a LinkedIn article by Charley Brinton, founder of French & Flavour.

After 10 years out of a formal office job, I am job hunting and looking to move back into the workplace. I haven’t worked in a permanent position since I went on maternity leave with my daughter nearly 11 years ago, and it’s proving to be a very daunting task.

Since that time, I haven’t just been a stay at home mum. I’ve launched three of my own websites, worked for the family Digital Production company, taught myself a number of new skills, such as product photography and SEO, plus I’ve had a few small part-time jobs in retail and recruitment. It’s been a busy 10 years.

What job am I hunting for?

Previously finding a job wasn’t an issue. I was a Senior Account Manager in branding and marketing agencies. I knew how to do my role in my sleep, and recruiters and businesses knew what my skills should and would be. However it’s been a long time since I was in an agency fulfilling that role, and even though I know I could slip back into that very easily, I’m not sure recruiters feel the same.

You take one look at my CV today and I don’t slip into a nice neat package. Even I’m struggling to fit myself with any of the job descriptions that are coming my way. Do I do digital project management? Back to account management? Content creation and editing? Social media management?

I could design and build Shopify websites for small retailers and do their product photography. I can review websites and suggest better SEO. I could be a retail buyer, product manager, copywriter.

Where do I fit in?

I’ve somehow become a chameleon, which is great in many ways because being adaptable is vital in today’s world, but it doesn’t help me find an appropriate job and adds to the anxiety of re-entering the workplace after being a largely stay-at-home mum.

I know I would be an asset to any small business and start-ups, and I know I can fulfil many roles within larger, more established companies. However finding those companies that would appreciate my skill set isn’t that easy, and then add in a need for some flexibility so I can still collect my kids from school occasionally, feels like am I asking for the impossible.

So, what to do?

I know I’m far from the only mother with this predicament, so what’s the answer? Pick one skill and train in that? Start back at the bottom somewhere doing something completely new?

Either way, job hunting is harder than I expected, despite so much more support for mums heading back to work, better approaches to flexi-time, more part-time and home working opportunities.

I thought having varied skills would be of benefit, and showing that I haven’t just been a mum for 10 years would be a bonus, but I’m starting to realise its actually just confusing for people, not least of all, myself.’

How have you found job hunting after a break in your career?

Please share your comments about your return to work experiences.

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