Tips for Going Back to Work (on Your Terms)

For so many women, the work/ life balance conundrum tends to rear its ugly head just when things are starting to go well.  You have built your network, established your reputation and begun to make the strides you had always hoped for when… boom.  You have a baby!  Or make a move!  And suddenly the path on which you find yourself is not what you envisioned.  After hitting the pause button, you may find yourself wondering how your work wardrobe transformed into workout gear, but you are not alone.  According to Harvard Business Review, over 40% of women will take a break during the course of their careers.  But once you have taken a professional pause, how do you step back in?

Two Hong Kong Moms were in this very situation — Kimberly Arth and Lauren Lin wanted to get back into the business world post-relocation to Hong Kong, but wanted to make it work on their own terms.  They both found this transition difficult and realized an opportunity to help women in similar positions.  Thus, PIVOT was born.

PIVOT is a new recruiting platform designed to provide women who have taken a break in their careers, with a way to re-enter the workforce on a flexible basis.  Specifically, the firm is focused on connecting high-caliber professional women with project-based work from leading companies across finance and marketing.  PIVOT’s main objective is to create visibility for a virtually untapped talent pool in Hong Kong, as companies continue to search for new avenues of talent across various fields including law, banking, event planning, and social media.  Co-founders Arth and Lin established PIVOT to realize a shared vision of providing women with the opportunity to pursue challenging work, sharpen their skills in their respective fields, and attain a new level of work / life balance.

“We have been continually inspired by the high-achieving, experienced, and talented women we’ve met that are ready to continue making significant contributions in their fields, but not in a traditional full-time format,”  says Lin.   “At the same time, Hong Kong’s dynamic and international business environment hosts so many companies that can benefit from accessing this level of talent, but without the commitment of permanent positions. We are excited to take on this challenge and help change attitudes towards flexible work formats, and provide great projects and engagements to an unaddressed group of professional talent.”

As you consider whether the time is right for you to go back to work, Arth and Lin, offer five tips to get you started.

Confidence is Key. One of the biggest hurdles in going back to work is self-doubt.  Remind yourself that you have a lot to offer.  Instead of spending time questioning your skillset, think about times since you have been out of the workforce when you have attempted something new and succeeded.  Review your resume and past achievements.  Half the battle is getting yourself back into the mindset that you can do it.

Reflect. What is it that you want to be doing?  Just because you had the same role for ten years, does not mean that is the best job for you now.  Think about how your life has changed and how you want to be spending your time.  Your skills are transferrable — what are the best ways to use them?

Build your network. Scheduling a call or a coffee date with an old colleague is a perfect way to begin to feel reconnected.  Use informal meetings to update yourself on market trends and to gather information.  The more informal meetings you have, the more confident you will be when the time comes to interview with a potential employer.  It is equally important to maintain your old contacts, as it is to add new ones.  Be proactive and don’t be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know.  You will be surprised at how many people are willing and want to help.

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Create a personal brand.  Understanding yourself and how you want to be perceived is the first step in shaping a strategic / personal brand.  Refine your story to reflect the skills that are most relevant for the job you are after.  Consider your online presence, and update your LinkedIn profile to provide a clear summary of your experience and highlight key achievements.  Don’t underestimate the power of social media.  Recruiters and HR departments actively use this as a tool to find talent.

Get in the Mix.  Attend a convention, panel, lecture series, or trade show to mix and engage with the latest trends and movements in your discipline; the dynamism of a startup series such as RISE or a convention like StartmeupHK not only can bring you up to speed quickly in the latest developments in your sector, but the energy of hundreds of people in pitch-mode can be really inspiring!

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Kimberly Arth
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Lauren Lin

PIVOT was founded in 2016 to provide accomplished women with challenging and interesting project based work from leading companies; offering companies access to highly experienced talent on a just-in-time, flexible, or limited commitment basis beyond traditional or full-time employment formats. For more information, please see our website pivot.com.hk

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Keep up with PIVOT events and news on Facebook  and Linkedin

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