Top 3 Concerns of Women Returning to Work + Answers

Top 3 Concerns of Women Returning to Work + Answers

Image: From the white board during a coaching session. "It's hell in the hallway."
Image: This is from the white board during a coaching session with a woman in transition.

A lot of women come to see me when they are at a point of returning to work after a hiatus. Maybe the kids are growing up, or it’s a divorce or other transition. Sometimes it’s by choice and sometimes not.

Whatever the reason, they often have these 3 worries:

  1. Has the world passed me by? Will I be able to keep up with today’s technology?
  2. Do I really have something to offer when my brain has been focused on other things for so long? I’ve lost my confidence.
  3. How the heck do people juggle professional and personal lives? I’m so busy already!

You’re not alone with these worries. I get it that they may be weighing heavily on you.

Those worries will get in your way if you don’t address them head on.

I’m going to address each concern briefly here. I can’t solve all the stress here, but I hope you will discover that it might be easier than you think.

1. What About All the New Technology?

You’d be surprised how much everyone feels the same way even if they didn’t take a work hiatus. Things are changing so quickly.

We all have to be good at learning. That’s the key. Can you learn quickly? I bet you can. If you’ve been helping your children learn and grow, that’s using the skill of learning as a teacher.

Do you have the aptitude for a particular skill set? You might need to do a little work to find out what are your transferrable skills and natural talents. (That’s easy with a little help.)

Are you willing to take an online course to build a new skill? You can find a free tutorial on almost anything online. Search Google and YouTube for starters. (More ideas in the resources below.)

More importantly, I know you bring something deeper and more lasting than technology skills, and those talents aren’t as easy to learn.

Smart employers are usually more interested in finding someone who has the deeper strengths — like working collaboratively with a team, being an intuitive leader, juggling multiple priorities, and an ability to learn quickly. Hullo, moms (and most women) often have these qualities in spades! (It’s well worth adding these kinds of talents on your resume.)

I’ve seen article after article talking about traditionally feminine skills being most in demand these days. Example:

Topping the list of most desirable traits were patience, expressiveness, intuition, flexibility, empathy, and many other traits identified by respondents as feminine.”
~from “Between Venus and Mars: 7 Traits of True Leaders,” Inc., June 2013. [source]

2. Do I Really Have Something Useful to Offer?

You may need help to see your genius, and gain some confidence, but I promise you it is in there.

Often it’s in the doing that builds your confidence. Think of a way to try something on, like volunteering at your favorite non-profit, or shadow a friend in her business.

Get your feet in the game and you’ll find your footing soon enough.

Most women suffer from a bit of Imposter Syndrome. It’s not your fault that you have that inner critic because women have been treated as second class for centuries, but the confidence piece still needs to be addressed. (A good coach or support group can help.)

I bet you’ve got plenty of skills you aren’t seeing. For instance, the so-called “soft skills” (e.g., intuition, connection) are REAL skills! Stop discounting them. That’s a hold-over from seeing feminine traits as less-than.

3. What About Work/Life Balance?

That is a real concern for everyone. Balance seems so elusive. If it’s not addressed, you will burn out. And yet, it’s not so complicated once you have a mindset shift.

I explained the problem and provide an alternative solution in this post: Stop Looking for Work-Life Balance.

In a nutshell, a major key to “balance” is to do work that you love, and that fits your natural flow, so that you feel calm and energized at work and after work. Yes, it takes a little time to figure out these things but it pays off! (One way to figure out your best fit is in my Career Clarity Course.)

If you’re like many women returning to work, you’re considering self-employment as a path for more flexibility. But you might be wondering if self-employment is too stressful, or if introverts could be good at self-employment. Find out the truth: Stress-free Sustainable Self-employment: Possible?

Suggested Homework

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably feeling a little more relieved and yet still worried about a few specifics. So the coach in me wants to give you this homework.

  1. Write down, with pen and paper, the specific questions still floating through your mind. Try to put each one in the form of a question. Write as many questions as come to mind.
  2. Now tune in to the side of you that has taken courageous steps in the past, and have her respond to each question in an encouraging and honest way, even if you don’t have the concrete answers yet.
  3. Now look at each question again and if you don’t have the concrete answer yourself, write down who you can ask about it. I know you can find someone. (You can ask me.)

By the Way, You Can Live Your Purpose without Paid Work Too.

Sometimes it’s about reclaiming that you are living your purpose already. Living your purpose can look many different ways.

Your heart knows if there’s more for you to explore, but sometimes you might be looking for work out of societal pressure to get yourself “out there.” Beware of doing what others expect. It won’t make anyone happy including you.

I once knew a mom of young children who thought she should be back at work, and her career decisions kept being stuck. Finally I helped her find words that she really wanted to stay home until the kids were all in school.

She was so relieved, and interestingly she got unstuck about future work ideas at the same time, and she chose a direction to work towards in a gradual way. Being present with kids IS a way for her to express her purpose, at home and beyond.

Even if you don’t have kids, there are realistic and fulfilling ways to live your purpose without paid work. Discovering your purpose is the first step.

Cool Resources for Returning to Work:

  1. Heard of a Returnship? It’s an on-ramp for returning to work, like an internship.
  2. Google offers free and low-cost classes for job seekers and professional growth.
Val Nelson

Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
Val Nelson | Coaching | Groups | Courses | Newsletter | LinkedIn

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