Preparing to return to work

Now you've decided to return to work (outside the home!) you need to get organising!

We've asked the experts what you need to do to make the move back into the paid workforce smooth and successful.

We've also given you links to get you started in your search for the perfect job for you.

What items should I put on my checklist before applying for any job?

Answer: Use the following checklist.........

Child care

Organise a child care place before you secure a job to avoid stress. Childcare can be hard to find however it is possible with a little perseverance and thinking outside the square.

  • Ring your local council for assistance in finding available childcare in your local area.

  • If childcare is not an option for you, consider hiring a carer (ie: babysitter, nanny, au pair). Explore 'shared care' with a family member or friend where you collectively share a private carer to look after both sets of children or agree to mind one another's children on non-work days - this can be an highly convenient and inexpensive option even in the short term whilst you transition to other care arrangements.

Once you have short-listed a childcare option(s) that suits you and your family, start preparing for your return to work

Be Prepared

  • Plan your return to work by reviewing your work, family life goals and research the flexible work options open to you.

  • Get help from training and coaching companies such as who specialise in helping mums plan and prepare to return to work.

  • Access private career counselors through the Australian Association of Career Counsellors

  • If you are currently on parental leave, contact your employer to initially explore what might be workable for you both (see negotiation tips below)

Focus and Refresh your skills

If you do not have an employer to return to following parental leave, you will need to research the job market.
  • When you are looking for a job, think about what you really want to do and go for it.

  • Make sure that your skills set is relevant to the job you are applying for.

  • Be selective and apply for jobs that you are both interested in and have the relevant skills for. Our tip: if you are passionate about your work and enjoy it, you'll be 100 times more motivated to succeed and your return to work will be an easy transition.
Your parental absence may mean you need to do a short re-fresher course to get you up to speed.

Resume Tips

Your resume is a critical in finding a job. Effectively, it is a sales document - and it sells you! Make sure it's up to date before you start applying for jobs; that it's well formatted and easy to read; that you mention your ‘parental leave gap and promote any volunteer, part-time or casual work you did during parental leave. Many mums forget just how much they do and have to offer an employer! For more help, consult resume specialists such as

Negotiation tips to get what you want

Negotiating a working arrangement that will work for you and your employer can seem like a daunting task. This may be because you lack the skills and confidence to handle a negotiation situation effectively.
If you are currently on parental leave, think about what might be important to your employer versus you and how you might meet in the middle.


Update your wardrobe, pamper yourself and have a haircut. This in itself can boost your confidence! Always dress for success! Dressing to impress for a job interview not only tells the interviewer that you are serious about the job, but also that you are serious about yourself. If you haven't 'suited up' for a while, buy 5 fashion magazines to get an idea.

Where do I begin to look for work?

Answer: Scan the following checklist.

Welfare to Work program for parents

Do you receive income support or parenting payments from Centrelink? Depending on your payments you will be asked to look for part time work (at least 15 hours per week). Read more.

Job Classifieds Websites

Most job classifieds websites allow you to set up job alerts so newly posted jobs are sent to your email address. You are able to submit your resume and cover letter to the employer via email.

Recruitment firms who specialise in flexible roles

There are now recruitment firms that specialise in placing flexible jobs. Some of them include:
Flex Professionals, NSW,
Priorities, VIC,
Seed Recruitment, NSW,
Nine2Three, NSW,
Consider temping or contract positions to start with to give you a taste of returning to work. This may give you time to assess what you want from a job.

Industry associations or professional groups

Join a relevant industry association or professional group, start attending functions to network and understand current issues.

Friends and family network

Never underestimate the worth of those around you. Let family, friends, and your Mothers Group know that you are looking for a job. You never know where a job lead may come from.

Our thanks to Kate Sykes from and Emma Walsh from Mums@Work for these tips. For great job opportunities and advice check our Employment Page