Article by: Sarika Tainwala
Taking a break from work can be a liberating & daunting task for women.
Nearly 50 per cent of the female workforce in India stops working after three years, because of young children, ageing parents, or marriage. This roughly accounts to 10 million graduate and post-graduate women. In fact, a good number of women who want to resume work are unable to do so owing to strenuous, inflexible timings and competitive work culture.
A certain category of women are the ones that could not pursue a career in their 20’s but want to start working nevertheless. And that’s when restarting late is not the issue, fitting in is. Such women eventually enter fields where they have a comfort zone, such as apparel, baking, art & craft. Therefore, for them it’s imperative to find a niche.
And the third category are the ones that live in orthodox joint families, where the women are not allowed to work. “The daughter-in-laws are prohibited from working,” stated an HR professional aged 33, who formerly was subjected to this.
“Being a mother and a wife was not good enough for me. I was determined to do something with my life and I have,” stated Sarika, a second career woman.
Let’s move onto understanding the challenges women face in making a comeback-
- CV updation hardly gives options – employers expect advanced skills or women have to balance both, which is a herculean task
- Lack of childcare facility at work is another tough one
- No flexible hours offered
- Excessive burden on women during festivals and family functions
- Lack of support from in laws & husband to restart work
Let’s look at different scenarios & solve it to ensure a successful market return-
- One must explain how you’ve overcome the break situation & if you’ve reskilled yourself.
- Have you gained an inner strength that you never knew existed?
Returning post maternity
- Whether you had your first child, young children at primary school or older children that have flown the nest, your situation is unique. You must demonstrate that communication, time management, negotiation & organization are vital workplace strengths that you’ve acquired during your sabbatical
Right attitude & self-introspection
- Arm yourself for questions such as –“What if similar problems resurface? Why do you want to restart?
- Demonstrate your intention to commit to a job with an opening statement & the direction you want to take
- Don’t be obstinate about the kind of job, be open minded, get clarity on why you want to restart & your abilities
Redraft your CV
- Explain the sabbatical in the covering letter of your CV in short
How things are changing now….
- The CEO of a famous return to work portal stated that women restarters with rich experience are in demand by companies. From writing blogs to digital marketing, many new job sites are catering to this section.
- Large segment of women are looking to get back to work in the IT-Software, Internet/E-Commerce/ startups, teaching, banking and BPO/ call centers
- Startups are keen on women restarters, as they are found to be committed and it works as a cost-effective option
- IBM, Deloitte to Tata, they run programs to upgrade women employee skills
- Online training platform Internshala has launched an ‘Internships for Women’ campaign
- A CXO level commitment is imperative
Leaving your career wasn’t easy, starting it again won’t be either. But you’re older and wiser and stronger now. The world awaits your restart!
Views expressed are personal.