Many returners have a wealth of skills, experience, and talent but despite this, they often struggle to get back into jobs at the right level.
At a time when many employers are facing skills shortages and the “War for Talent" has never been more intense, recruiting returners - people with work experience who have taken a career break for different reasons and are looking to continue their careers – not only makes sense from a business perspective but also commercially, as it benefits individuals as well as the UK economy.
More broadly, an increasing number of candidates are seeking opportunities where they can choose an employer based on their approach to hybrid / flexible working and with our WORKABLE initiative, BDO presents an appealing proposition for this talent pool.
We have several great #LifeAtBDO stories where we have supported career break returners into BDO; Kerry Furey and Rachel Donn are two of our recent success stories.
Tell us a little about your role at BDO
Kerry: I currently work in the Experienced Hire team as a Resourcing Advisor. I joined at the end of November 2021 and support our regional offices with their Tax recruitment needs.
Rachel: I joined the firm in October 2021 as a Resourcing Advisor for the PMD areas covering maternity leave. When my colleague returned to work, I transferred to resource for the Shared Service Centre.
Before joining BDO, what made you take a break away from corporate working life?
Kerry: I was made redundant from my old company at the very start of the pandemic, perhaps a knee-jerk reaction as everything was so uncertain at that stage. However, after that time, I decided to embark on a professional coaching qualification as coaching is a real passion of mine. I also got married in September 2020 and me and my husband decided to take time out and travel, so we spent a few months overseas in Mexico, where I completed my coaching programme remotely and upon arrival back in the UK, I established my own coaching business, which I still run alongside my role with BDO.
Rachel: I took a career break to have children. Two wee ones later and here I am!
How have you found joining BDO?
Kerry: Returning to work was challenging at the start as I had never worked part time before, and so it was a challenge getting to grips with being back in a corporate environment, learning the processes, being efficient with my time, and then also maintaining my business on my days off from BDO. My team were very aware that I was balancing a lot and they were on hand to support and offer advice as and when, which was much appreciated.
Rachel: It's been a really smooth process. I absolutely feel I've received the support required to transition back into the workplace. Everything from understanding BDO's structure, to who's who, to how to use a computer again! I left work in 2015, so when I returned to the corporate world in 2021, it was a very different place. All my interviews were remote, and I didn't venture into the office until March 2022. I'd never used Microsoft Teams, and I'd forgotten how to use Excel. But with the support from my managers, colleagues, and stakeholders, it quickly felt like I'd never been away!
Do you feel like the culture at BDO allows you to Be Yourself?
Kerry: Yes, I do. I think it's difficult for people to open up and build a rapport with colleagues when you join remotely, but as everyone was in the same boat, and most people were used to working remotely at the time I joined, it all felt very comfortable. I've never felt like I couldn't be me or say what I'm thinking and - having previously worked in a Big 4 environment - that was refreshing.
Rachel: Yes, I do. I work part time, which enables me to fulfil family commitments, as well as other outside interests. I am myself at work and don't try to be anything other than that, which means a culture like BDO's really suits me.
What advice, if any, would you give to someone thinking of having a career break and then returning to work?
Kerry: I would absolutely say to take the break. We have so few opportunities in life to take the time out and enrich ourselves, so if the opportunity arises, then take it, and make the most of it. My experience of returning to work after time out showed that I was not thrown in at the deep end; I had the support and transition time to get to grips with most things before going off on my own. It just felt like starting any new job in terms of comfort levels.
Rachel: Go for it! If the opportunity presents itself to you, take the time to have a career break; life is too short to spend working constantly. It's not so scary returning to work; there are programmes and resources in place to help the transition. It's mostly self-confidence that's the only thing holding you back. My personal situation meant that I needed a working pattern with reduced hours. I was nervous about finding that with a large employer, but BDO has shown me that it is possible to return to work in a role that suits me.
To successfully encourage returners from a career break, we all have a part to play.
• Identifying the opportunities: Think more flexibly – does the position need to be full time or could part time, job share or flexible working be considered?
• Supporting the returners: Our People Manager Accreditation highlights the importance of quality conversations with our teams, so we really understand what they need in their #LifeAtBDO. This is particularly important with new joiners to understand the level of support they may require to help accommodate for their individual 'return to work' circumstances.
One area for our newly appointed Equality Diversity and Inclusion Senior Manager to actively explore is a formal “Returners programme" to encourage and support individuals returning to the workplace.
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