Return to Work Week: Day one

The first day of Return to Work Week saw a range of events, from CV writing to returning to work after a career break.

Female employer smiling outside of an office building’s Return to Work Week, which runs from 25th to 29th September, kicked off yesterday with a range of events on everything from how to create a CV that stands out and doesn’t get thrown out by ATS systems and how to use LinkedIn effectively for job search to that helps returners ease back into work after a break.

For those looking to return to work after a career break, there was an opportunity to hear from other returners and a supportive employer about what helps. Deutsche Bank spoke about how they support returners through a range of workplace support and flexible jobs. A panel of Deutsche Bank employees -Lucie Bowman, Executive Recruiter, HR; Laetitia Veleba, Director, Leveraged Debt Capital Markets; and Sharika Chohan, Associate, Divisional Risk & Control Office – gave advice for those contemplating a return to work. Both Sharika and Laetitia have taken significant career breaks.

Here are some of the main pieces of advice that came from the discussion.

Be upfront about your break

  • Be upfront about your career breaks in job applications and interviews, rather than shying away from them.
  • Emphasise what you’ve done and achieved during your breaks – whether that’s personal successes as a parent, or other activities such as volunteering.
  • If possible, show how you’ve tried to stay up-to-date with developments in your professional sector.
  • Practise how you will talk about your career break in job interviews. Laetitia said that, when she was returning to work, she “literally scripted it out” so she had a version that she was happy with.

Remember that you have reasons to feel confident

  • Many returners feel low in confidence. But it’s good to take the leap and start applying for roles – filling out applications and going to interviews will help you to get back into the swing of things.
  • Remember all the things that returners can offer – they have life-experience and they are often good problem-solvers!
  • Remember that looking after children is an incredibly hard job that doesn’t come with an instruction manual – you have indeed been working during your “break”.

Lucie and Laetitia outlined Deutsche Bank’s own support for returners which includes:

  • Hybrid working patterns that are agreed with managers on a case-by-case basis
  • 30 days of paid leave per year
  • 20 days of emergency childcare per year
  • A workplace “buddy” system
  • In some cases, jobseekers can negotiate to do full-time roles on a part-time basis

Returner experiences

Sharika had only recently returned to work after taking a seven-year career break to look after her children. She now works in Deutsche Bank’s risk and control office. She works from the company’s Birmingham office for two days a week, and from home for three days a week. Deutsche Bank provided her with a workplace buddy, staff networks and HR check-ins to ease her return.

Sharika said that mums who are interested in returning should try not to worry about feeling under-confident – this is normal at first and self-assurance “will come”. She says her return to work has been a good experience for the whole family, as her children enjoy hearing about what she’s learned at work each day. Her advice for other mums is simply: “Just go for it.”

Laetitia was similarly encouraging of moving beyond all the doubts and hesitation and taking the plunge, but she said that when she returned to work, at a different organisation, she felt intimidated at first by all the young, dynamic people working around her and felt she didn’t fit in. However, she later got to know them and realised that, just as she was wary of people making assumptions about her and her career break, she was also making assumptions about them. She said that taking a career break was already a brave move and that, similarly, people should feel proud of themselves for taking the brave step to return.

CV writing

Other sessions on Monday covered jobseeking tips about writing your CV and cover letter and promoting yourself on LinkedIn to find jobs. The first was led by Emma Wood from Purple CV.

Her tips included:

  • the importance of tailoring your CV to each individual job – doing your research, using keywords taken from the job description, using relevant examples to personalise it [‘tell your story’] and using relevant statistics to show the impact you had in a previous role, for instance, I checked in x clients a day
  • doing a cover letter to say why you want the job and explain a little bit more about yourself to appeal to the human who will eventually see your CV once you get past the applicant tracking systems [ATS] which each company will tailor for their own needs
  • using a skills-based cv rather than a chronological one if you have a career gap and not being afraid about putting the gap in your employment history. More information on the different types of CV can be found here
  • not using fancy font, colours, photos etc which will see your CV automatically thrown out by ATS
  • how long a CV should be – no more than two pages
  • the importance of editing a long employment history and focusing on the most relevant jobs.


Using LinkedIn to find a job

Emma Alkirwi, the CV Guru, who writes a regular monthly column for, also took part in a pre-recorded session on using LinkedIn to find jobs. The video covered tips to create a compelling profile that attracts recruiters and employers; best practices to showcase your skills, experience, and achievements; how to network effectively and expand your professional connections; and utilising LinkedIn’s features to your advantage for job hunting.


Monday’s events were supplemented by three videos – one explaining the ATS, another on filling in application forms effectively and the last on securing a part-time job. In addition, the first episode of the Mums. Dads. Work podcast was aired, featuring Alkirwi and news analysis.

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