Now, ‘Return to Work’ used to be an interview I did with each colleague after a period of absence, to make sure they were fit to return to work and that there were no underlying problems.
If only my ‘Return to Work’ were so straightforward.
I had NO IDEA how difficult it would be to return to work after a period of absence. Naively, as I handed my notice in after the Little Little Man was born, I thought ‘I’ll just go back when I’m ready’.
Excuse me whilst I roll my eyes at myself three years ago.
The first interview I had, I was open and honest. With hindsight, MUCH too open and honest about the need for flexibility and childcare; I didn’t get the job. It could also have been because I was rubbish; but the fact that I had more experience than the single, child-free 24 year old they recruited, makes me doubt that.
The next interview I tried to tone it down, but again I lost out.
So I started to wonder if maybe it WAS me, then I had a dupe interview with a recruitment agency, who was ‘amazed’ (his words, not mine) that I still had ‘it’. Hmm, I gave birth to a child; not my brain (well, sometimes I wonder, but I’m still breathing, so I guess not). He was also brutally honest, ‘It’s going to be hard going back to the level you were after three years out of work, I would suggest stepping down’.
Why would I not be capable? Ok, I know it may take a little while for my brain to get all cylinders fully firing, but to step down?
I desperately want to go back to work, but it seems that nobody desperately wants me; as a retail store manager I have plenty of transferable skills. However, for the jobs that those skills transfer too, there appear to be many more people with a more specific skill set, and relevant experience than me.
I can’t even seem to get an interview, and if I get an interview the inevitable question of ‘What have you been doing for the last three years?’ WILL be asked. And I can’t lie. Because, if I lie, and if I were to be successful I’m going to have to admit pretty quick that I lied. Never a great start to a working relationship.
Then comes the other kettle of fish…flexibility. My husband has his own business, which demands long hours; he can’t do school drop offs or pick-ups. We don’t have any family to ask. I have a couple of friends I know would help me out, but it may not be enough. And then school holidays….so would the cost of childcare negate the benefit of me working?
My return to work looks set to be a somewhat arduous, disappointing process.
Is anyone else with me? Would you have given up your job had you known how hard it would be to get back on the hamster wheel? Should employers be more flexible? Or should I just suck it up that I took a step backward when I decided to have a baby?