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Comeback Careers – Addressing the Needs of Women Returning to Work

Editorial Team | On February 23, 2010

Updated on July 19, 2023

The landscape of work is evolving, and a significant part of this evolution is the surge of women returning to work after having children. A study conducted by That Works For Me, an organization focused on retaining women in the workplace, reveals that even though an overwhelming 98% of mothers want to return to work post-childbirth, only 13% believe that full-time work is feasible.

Addressing the Needs

This transition to rejoining the workforce is uniquely challenging for women, especially given the evidence that women’s earnings tend to plateau mid-career, while their male counterparts’ earnings continue to increase. This disparity further complicates the decision-making process for women contemplating a return to the workforce.

However, economic trends during the pandemic have illustrated a contrasting image. It’s worth noting that despite women losing more jobs in the early stages of the pandemic, they are also returning to work faster than men. This mirrors the underlying resilience and adaptability of women in the face of significant career and personal challenges.

The decision for women to return to work could be driven by personal growth, financial requirements, or shifts in family dynamics. Regardless of the motivation, it is a potentially rewarding venture.

These insights constitute key focus areas for women contemplating this pivotal transition and form an essential part of the evolving narrative surrounding women in the workforce.


  1. Reflect on personal motivations and goals: Understand your reasons and expectations for reentering the workforce.
  2. Research the current job market: Make use of platforms like Pew Research Center to stay informed about labor market trends.
  3. Start with a self-assessment: Understand your strengths, weaknesses, skills, and preferences. Websites like 123Test offer free and insightful assessments.
  4. Identify potential industries or roles of interest: Not just ones you’ve worked in before but also others where your skills might be applicable.
  5. Stay positive and patient: The process can take time, so maintaining an optimistic mindset is essential.

Understanding the Challenges of Comeback Careers

Firstly, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that women returning to the workforce might face. This includes updating skills to meet the current demands of their industry, combating stereotypes and biases, juggling family obligations, or simply overcoming the fear of stepping into the unknown. Recognizing these challenges is the first step towards devising strategies to conquer them.


  1. Be prepared for change: The working environment may be different from when you last worked.
  2. Utilize online resources: Websites like Coursera offer courses that can help you get up to speed with recent developments in your industry.
  3. Seek professional guidance: Career counselors or coaches can provide valuable advice and strategies for dealing with potential challenges.
  4. Practice self-care: Use mindfulness apps like Headspace to manage stress and stay mentally focused.
  5. Develop a thick skin: You may face biases or stereotypes; stay resilient and focused on your goals.

Preparation is Key for Women to Return to Work

Preparation can make the transition to the professional world smoother for women returning to work. This includes updating one’s resume to highlight transferable skills and competencies, seeking out training or certifications that may help get up to speed with current industry trends, and possibly doing volunteer work or internships to gain recent work experience. Additionally, preparing mentally and emotionally for the change is equally essential.


  1. Update your resume: Highlight your skills and experiences, not just your work history.
  2. Build a LinkedIn profile: It’s a critical tool for today’s job market.
  3. Seek professional development opportunities: Websites like edX offer free courses from top universities and organizations.
  4. Do volunteer work: It can provide recent work experience and connections. Websites like VolunteerMatch can help find opportunities.
  5. Conduct informational interviews: These can offer insights into your preferred industry and make valuable connections.

Building a Robust Network: An Essential Strategy

Networking has proven to be a crucial aspect for women back to work. Joining industry-specific groups, attending career fairs and events, or simply reconnecting with former colleagues can open up opportunities that might not be readily available through traditional job search methods. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn can be valuable tools for networking and showcasing your professional brand to potential employers.


  1. Join professional associations: These can provide networking opportunities and resources.
  2. Use social media: Engage with industry leaders and organizations on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
  3. Attend industry events and webinars: These can be a great place to connect with potential employers or mentors.
  4. Leverage existing connections: Reconnect with former colleagues or friends in your industry.
  5. Build relationships: Networking is more about building relationships than asking for job opportunities.

Flexibility: The Game-Changer for Women Returning to Work

Embracing flexibility in the job search can be beneficial for women returning to the workforce. This might involve considering part-time work, remote positions, or jobs outside their traditional field of work. With the ongoing shift in the workplace towards remote and flexible work options, women have a greater opportunity to balance professional ambitions with personal responsibilities.


  1. Be open to new industries: Don’t limit your search to your previous industry.
  2. Consider alternative work arrangements: Look for part-time, contract, or remote work.
  3. Be flexible with your expectations: The right job might not be what you initially imagined.
  4. Consider entrepreneurial opportunities: You might find a path in starting your own business.
  5. Keep learning: Stay open to learning new skills or industries.

The Power of Support Systems

Having a robust support system can significantly ease the journey for women return to work. This could involve family and friends who can assist with childcare or eldercare responsibilities, or professional networks that provide mentorship and guidance. There are also numerous organizations dedicated to supporting women in their return-to-work journey, offering resources ranging from career counseling to job placement services.


  1. Utilize family and friends: They can provide emotional support as well as practical help.
  2. Seek professional help if needed: Therapists or counselors can provide coping strategies.
  3. Join a support group: Groups like LeanIn offer circles for women in the workforce.
  4. Find a mentor: They can provide invaluable advice and support.
  5. Make use of community resources: Local community centers often offer childcare, counseling, or career resources.

Self-Belief and Resilience: Key Traits

Finally, a woman back to work should bear in mind that self-belief and resilience are vital. There will inevitably be hurdles along the way, but maintaining a positive mindset and an unwavering belief in one’s capabilities can make the difference between a challenge that stops you and a challenge that strengthens you. Remember, every step taken towards returning to work is a step towards fulfilling your professional goals and contributing positively to the ever-evolving world of work.

In conclusion, the journey of women returning to work can be complex but is invariably rewarding. It requires planning, preparation, networking, flexibility, support, self-belief, and resilience. By taking these aspects into consideration and harnessing the available resources, women can seamlessly transition back into the workforce and continue to make invaluable contributions to their respective industries.


  1. Cultivate self-confidence: Believe in your ability to succeed in the workforce again.
  2. Practice resilience: There will be setbacks, but don’t let them deter you from your goals.
  3. Foster a growth mindset: See challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
  4. Practice mindfulness: It can help maintain mental well-being.
  5. Celebrate every victory: Even small successes bring you one step closer to your goal.

Check out other articles by best-selling authors:

Dawn Rasmussen – Top Five Questions About Resumes Answered

Sunny Lurie – Eight Proven Strategies to Open the Door to a Vibrant New Career

Stacia Pierce – How to Search for a Job During the Holidays

Dawn Quesnel- Helpful Hints for Job Seekers

Stacia Pierce – Conceit vs. Confidence