5 Steps For Women Looking To Re-Enter The Workforce

Embarking on a new career journey after a hiatus involves a blend of excitement and challenges. Here are 5 steps for women looking to re-enter the workforce.

Maya* was 22 when she started working. She loved her work and the financial independence it brought. Then, at 25, she got married; by 29, she was the mother of two children. She decided to nurture her family and took a career break.

At the age of 35, she again made a pivotal decision. With fire in her heart and determination to reignite her professional journey, Maya embarked on her second innings in the workforce. Today, she is a busy but happy working mother.

Maya is not alone in this journey. Maya is not alone in this journey. Like her, countless women in India are choosing to make their own career comebacks, reinforcing the concept of “second innings” at work.

Today, more women than ever are pursuing their ambitions, be it after motherhood, sabbaticals, or other personal commitments. Today, more women are following their dreams, even after having kids or taking breaks. They bring life experiences, skills, and a renewed passion for their fields, making them valuable contributors at work.

The trend of women re-entering the workforce after a break indicates a shifting paradigm, reflecting both the growing opportunities for women and their undeniable potential.

The rise of second careers for women in India

5 Steps For Women Looking To Re-Enter The Workforce

Women in India are leading the way in transforming the workforce by challenging old societal norms. They are successfully breaking free from traditional roles to realise their potential.

Job Portal HerKey reported an impressive 58 per cent year-on-year increase in female professionals registering for returnee programmes in Q1 2023. The platform saw a significant 65 per cent growth in registrations from smaller towns during the same time.

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The rise in flexible work options, dedicated recruitment programmes, and proactive enterprise engagement with talented professionals have encouraged women to re-enter the workforce and pursue second careers.

Breaking Stereotypes: Challenges and Triumphs

Returning to work after a hiatus presents unique challenges, whether due to personal reasons or lack of growth opportunities. However, women are proving that they can overcome any obstacle with determination and resilience.

Take Anamika Sengupta, for instance. Fired from her corporate job after returning from maternity break, she founded Almitra Tattva and Almitra Sustainables and is now thriving in the sustainable products’ industry.

Or Sumithra, who embraced motherhood in her early 30s amid a thriving corporate career and uncovered the challenges of balancing motherhood and career aspirations. After initial setbacks in her salaried jobs, she discovered her passion for entrepreneurship and teamed up with her mother to establish Rusingo – Soulfully Indian, a range of ready-to-eat-food.

Anamika and Sumithra exemplify women of resilience and self-belief who created their own opportunities to thrive instead of giving up in the face of the unsupportive attitude of the corporate world.

Enabling environments: organisations supporting second careers

The tide has started turning in corporate India with the societal change. Organisations have begun to play a pivotal role in this transformation by creating empowering environments and introducing initiatives that support women’s return to work. Specifically, they are contributing to this positive shift by:

  • Implementing forward-thinking, inclusive policies that address the unique needs of women returning to work
  • Introducing mentorship programs that provide guidance and support, helping women navigate their career reentry journey
  • Offering flexible work hours, allowing women to balance work and personal commitments effectively
  • Providing remote work opportunities that enable women to conveniently work from the comfort of their homes
  • More part-time roles to accommodate women’s preferences and facilitate a smoother transition back into the workforce
  • Introducing skill development and training programs to equip women with the latest skills and knowledge to adapt to the rapidly evolving business environment

Preparing for second careers: 5 steps for women looking to re-enter the workforce

5 Steps For Women Looking To Re-Enter The Workforce

Embarking on a new career journey after a hiatus involves a blend of excitement and challenges. Women can take these five crucial steps to facilitate a smooth transition back into the professional realm:

Assess skills and interests

Begin your re-entry journey by assessing your skills, strengths, and interests comprehensively. Reflect on your previous professional experiences and consider what truly excites you. Recognise that your unique blend of experiences can be an asset in your new career path.

Align these passions with potential career options, and visualise how your skills can contribute to your chosen field. This initial step provides a clear understanding of where your true aspirations lie.

Read more: 5 Skills That All Career Women Must Develop

Network and build connections

Building a strong professional network is paramount for success. Attend industry-related events, engage actively on online platforms, and reconnect with former colleagues.

Networking opens doors to opportunities you might not have considered otherwise. Foster genuine relationships within your desired industry, as these connections can offer valuable insights, mentorship, and even potential job openings.

Read more: 8 Networking Tips For Successful Women Despite Gender-Specific Challenges At Work

Upskill and learn continuously

The landscape of work is constantly evolving, and embracing the importance of continuous learning is crucial. Stay relevant in your chosen field by enrolling in online courses, attending workshops, and obtaining certifications. This not only enhances your skill set but also boosts your confidence and marketability.

Keep yourself abreast of industry trends and emerging technologies, positioning yourself as a knowledgeable and adaptable professional.

Read more: 8 Programmes In India For Switching From Non-IT To IT Careers

Leverage experience

Every experience, whether personal or professional, contributes to your growth. Do not underestimate the value of your past endeavours, even if they aren’t directly related to your new career.

Showcase transferable skills like leadership, problem-solving, adaptability, and effective communication that you’ve honed over the years. Employers highly value these skills, as they reflect your ability to navigate diverse situations and contribute positively to a team.

Read more: 7 Second Career For Women Options, Especially Humanities & Non-Tech Graduates

5. Adopt work-life integration strategies

Achieving a balance between work and family life is essential. Seek a supportive work environment that understands and respects women’s unique challenges. Develop efficient time management strategies to maximise productivity without compromising your personal responsibilities.

Prioritise self-care to maintain your well-being and sustain the enthusiasm needed to navigate this exciting phase of your career.

Read more: 7 Work-Life Integration Strategies For Working Indian Women

The last word: it’s never too late to rewrite your career narratives

5 Steps For Women Looking To Re-Enter The Workforce

Re-entering the workforce is an enriching endeavour that allows women to explore their professional potential and contribute meaningfully to society. Women can seamlessly transition into their new careers by embracing these five steps — assessing skills, networking, upskilling, leveraging experiences, and integrating work and life effectively.

Remember, your journey is a testament to your resilience and determination, and your experiences so far are the building blocks for a successful second act in the professional world.

I encourage all of you incredible women out there to seize the opportunity of a second career with open arms. Embrace the chance to reimagine and redefine your professional journey. Your potential knows no bounds, and the world is waiting for your brilliance to shine anew.


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*Name changed to protect privacy.

Image source: CanvaPro

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About the Author

Smita Das Jain

Smita Das Jain is a writer by passion who writes every day. Samples of her writing are visible in the surroundings around her — her home office, her sunny terrace garden, her husband’s car and read more...

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