Picture: Getty Images

Reignite your career 1: Dump your excuses, write your pitch

Get rid of the things holding you back and learn how you can package yourself to land your next job

Lisa Unwin portraitOver the years, have interviewed hundreds of women in order to help better understand the reasons they were holding themselves back.

Women often have commonly repeated fallacies – or mental models – that we use, and which served only to stop them reaching their goal of re-joining the workforce. Scroll down to see them and how to think differently about them. They may seem familiar to you.

This article is part of Noon’s Reignite Your Career Masterclass.

See all the Masterclass sections

Myths you tell yourself about finding a job

‘I’m needed at home. The family wouldn’t cope without me.’ 

You’ve probably cast yourself in this role, becoming the default parent, making every job in the family your own, absorbing the domestic minutiae. Arguably this behaviour can come from a feeling of guilt about not working, or a need to feel indispensable. Division of labour and domestic tasks is always fraught but if you’re clear and specific other people can do more. 

‘I’m unemployable. I’ve been out too long. My skills are not relevant.’ 

Common concerns. As if your earlier, often successful career counts for nothing. This is madness. Everything you learned and did before you took a career break did not suddenly get thrown out along with the disposable nappies. And all that life experience since enhances your ability to get a job done.  

‘I’m too old.’ 

Ageism is rife. And wrong. Don’t become one of the perpetrators. You can’t fix it overnight, but you can definitely fix how you respond – to other people’s attitudes and comments and to your own perceptions. With age comes wisdom, perspective, experience. Some of the things you have done prior to your career break – for example, dealing with challenges during the 2008/9 financial crisis – won’t have been experienced by many in the market now. 

‘I won’t be as good as I was before.’ 

You’ll be different. Possibly better.  

How to create your own brand

Now, it’s time to get your story straight.

Once you have let go of your excuses, you will need to need perfect your story. The Americans call this an ‘Elevator Pitch’.  Or ‘A Brand Called You’. As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon puts it: ‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.’   

Others (and you) need to be able to recite your story off the cuff. It might feel like boasting. It isn’t. It needs to help others connect you with peopleget you a meeting and ultimately a job. 

Here are some simple examples of elevator pitches:

Carol spent 20 years doing PR and crisis management in the city and left around 10 years ago when she and her partner made a lifestyle decision to move to the country. She’s passionate about improving social care and would love to use her comms skills in that sector. 

“Sally left school at 16 to travel and ended up living in the Far East before settling in Italy for 8 years. When she returned, she got a job as a production assistant at Sky Sports, before taking time out to bring up her childrenShe’s got really strong admin skills and is looking for a role in the creative sector.” 

Those stories might look succinct but believe me they didn’t start out that way. So how do you get to something this simple and straightforward? 

Key elements of your story. 

  • Your strengths
  • Your talents
  • Your experience and background
  • What you’re interested in
  • What you’ve been up to since you left (if indeed you did leave)
  • How that all translates to what you want to do next 

Don’t worry about getting the lines right straight away. Begin with an open mind. Now is the time to remember all the great things you thought you’d thrown out with disposable nappies.

– Lisa Unwin

Lisa Unwin, Founder of the Reignite Academy, is Noon’s Careers Expert.

Go to Part 2: Think like a chess master


View All

Picture: Getty Images

Reignite your career 2: Think like a chess master

Plotting your career requires more than reacting. Here’s how to think strategically

Picture: Getty Images

Reignite your career 3: Make your CV sing

A back-to-work CV, aka resume, highlights your experience and skills and — in my opinion — doesn’t try to hide time away from the workforce. Here is how to write it.

Picture: Getty Images

Reignite your career 4: How to explain a career break

Your career break and life outside of work makes you more interesting. Use it to inspire others and yourself.

Reignite your career 5: 8 ways to stand out on LinkedIn

Create a standout LinkedIn profile and master this crucial midlife networking and job hunting resource

Reignite your career 6: How to interview well in 10 easy steps

Giving good interview is easier than you think — and can be the final step to landing the position you want.

Video: How to get back into the workforce

Reposition yourself and create the work life you want with our careers expert.

More Careers advice
Join us