Returning to work after a career break

The day has arrived. You’re going back to work after a career break. You may have been out of the workforce for a few months. Or it may be 15 years...

The day has arrived. You’re going back to work after a career break.

You may have been out of the workforce for a few months. Or it may be 15 years.

There may be any number of reasons for a career break. Such as taking time out to travel, spending time with an ill family member or looking after your own health and wellbeing. But one of the more common reasons is you took time away to raise your family.

You might have been up since 5 am so excited to be heading back into the world of lunch breaks, holiday pay and gossips about last night’s episode of *insert name of a hot new TV show here*.

Or you may have been dreading this day. And are now in the bathroom sobbing, hiding so the kids won’t see and growing ever more grateful for waterproof mascara.

Whatever your situation and reason for returning to work, there are a few things to remember.


Life will carry on and everyone will adjust

Sure, it will take time but adjust they will.

It goes without saying you’ve had a chat with your partner about sharing the home workload. Right?

Not having mum on call 24/7 may take some getting used to, but it can also ease kids into being just that little bit more self-sufficient.

Depending on the ages of your kids, maybe they can take on extra chores and responsibilities. With mum back at work, maybe pocket money can become a ‘thing’ now.


Your feelings are valid

You may be keen to go back to work or dreading it.

You could be returning to a job you love, or one that just pays the mortgage.

You may be telling people you’re happy to go back but screaming inside. Or vice versa.

However you’re feeling, every emotion is valid and real. There is no right or wrong here.

So go ahead and just let all the feelings wash over you. Then kick your work head into gear, go out and slay!


Be kind to yourself

Things will have changed.

People, processes, technology, the coffee in the lunchroom. Even if you’re going back to work for the same company, you might feel out of sync for a little while.

And that’s okay.

Just take the time to get back up to speed, ask for help when you need it and trust that all the knowledge will come flooding back.

Make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat well and try and get some ‘me’ time while you ease back into working life


Take care of your financial future

I’m sure you don’t need a pile of stats and links to understand that while you’ve been out of the workforce, your super will have taken a hit.

A big one.

That’s why it’s important to understand how to make it work for you.

Women make up 46.9% of all employed people in Australia[i]and yet, on average, we retire with less than half the superannuation of men. Something has gone very wrong.

Now that you are getting back into the swing of the workforce, there are some easy things you can do to take control of your super:

  • Find your paperwork and make sure your super is still right for you. Many of us just sign up with the superfund that was on offer at our first job and kinda forget about it. Or we change jobs and our employer creates another super account for us and we end up with multiple accounts across a number of superannuation companies. 
  • Read your PDS, call or check out your super fund’s website to make sure it’s working for you.
  • While it might be a little late this time around, try and plan for your career break before you take it. It seems logical but if your career break was preceded by a pregnancy, its likely super was the furthest thing from your mind.
  • Don’t rely on your partner or their super. This is a tough one, but you need to be sensible and plan.
  • Contribute a little extra. Just a few dollars now builds up to a lot of dollars by retirement age. FairVine’s Round up and TopUps options can do just this.
  • Find a superfund for women. Women have different super needs to men so it makes sense to find a fund that understands these needs and can cater to them, without you losing out.


Enjoy the new you

Once you’re back into the swing of things and all settled, take time to appreciate how far you’ve come and just enjoy it all.

Enjoy that you’re back at work and earning those juicy dollars.

Enjoy lunch breaks spent in the local shopping centre bagging bargains.

Enjoy that you can eat an entire lunch, of your own choosing, sitting down and without having to cater to the needs of another human being.

Enjoy the new friends you will make.

Enjoy the new skills you will acquire.

Enjoy the satisfaction knowing you’re looking after you and your family in the best way you know how.

But most of all, enjoy life knowing that not only are you successfully juggling all the things, but you’ve also planned for a financially successful retirement as well.


[i] Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Share this article


All information provided in the magazine is sourced from independent writers & may contain general advice that is not endorsed by the FairVine Super Plan.