Main earner, but dreading going back from maternity leave

I have just finished my second maternity leave and I currently have no job. I am finding it difficult to work out what to do next. I am the main earner in the house and the role I take will directly impact our finances. I have spent the last 17 years with a large global bank and worked my way up the career ladder in technology. I am finding it difficult to find roles similar to what I did as I became senior and have a well rounded CV ie no real specialisms! I look at job roles of similar pay and they fill me with dread and I really feel like I do not have the experience and knowledge to do them. I look at junior roles and I cannot show I can go back to that detail as I have not done that in the last 10 years! I feel like I am in a spin and I know for sure having two children aged one and four is not aiding my mindset as I also enjoy my time with them. I cannot afford to be a full-time mum for much longer. I avoid talking to recruitment consultants as I cannot talk positively about myself… and I always end up saying that I am just coming back off maternity. In fact I had an awful interview where I could not stop talking about it and wanting to take a back seat! Plus I really do not know what job to do as my roles have been so varied. I am pretty sure if I just had a job I would crack on and do brilliantly, but my confidence is not great. How do I decide what job to apply for and how do I build my confidence up?

The sentence that really jumps out at me in your email is that the thought of returning to the kind of job you did before ‘fills you with dread’. I am sure many other working mums can empathise with this feeling and remember what it was like to be thinking about going back to work with two young children of 4 and 1.

Everything for you has changed and I imagine when you think about the job you used to do and consider what you have to do now as a mum you question how these two worlds are going to meet. It feels like putting together a jigsaw which used to fit together nicely but whichever way you jiggle the pieces around it just isn’t going to fit in the same way again.

Before starting to think about what it is that you want to do to bring in some money it is worth taking a moment out to recognise how things have changed for you and consider what this means in terms of the kind of work life balance that is going to work for you moving forwards.

Imagine that you had £20 to share out between these dimensions in life. You could either give the whole amount to one of these or you could share them between some or all of the values. Which ones are most important to you when thinking of where your priorities lie?



Power and influence



Knowledge / expertise

Idealism /values

Working with others




Work-life balance

Self-development / personal growth

It is likely that the way you respond to this is different to the response you would have given when you were last in work. Take a moment to consider how your priorities have changed and what is important to you going forwards in terms of your work life balance.

You clearly worked at a high level in global banking and I get the feeling that you feel that you no longer have the skills you used to have. I would question how accurate this perception is. Just like riding a bike the thought of doing it would be a bit scary if you had not been on a bike for a number of years, you might even be a bit wobbly as you pedal off down the road, but you would soon be flying along. You yourself have said that you are sure that if you just had a job you would do brilliantly – hold onto this thought!

Undertaking some voluntary work can be a really good way of reintroducing you to the working world without the pressure of having to perform at the height of your game. It is also a way of finding out how you would manage juggling family life and work and checking out how you feel about new areas of work that you may not have previously considered.

When you think about voluntary work don’t just think of helping out at your local charity shop as there are a wealth of charitable organisations looking for support in just about every conceivable area of business. Have a look at the website to find out what is available in your area. You can search using your postcode and if you put in an advanced search you can filter on the kind of activity you would like to be involved in or skills you would like to develop.

Lastly, consider other ways of finding jobs. Whilst recruitment consultants can be helpful don’t neglect your networks as most jobs are found this way. You have 17 years of working within the Global Banking Sector and it is well worth tapping into this for leads as well as thinking about who else you know in your personal life and from any interests or groups you are part of.

The free Badged Open Course ‘Understanding Your Sector’ is a good way of thinking about the sector you used to work in and exploring opportunities that may come from this if you are considering changing career. You can find this on Open Learn at

Good luck in taking this forwards.

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