Specialising in contract/Interim HR recruitment I am constantly in touch with people returning to the market after a short or long break from their careers. I myself have just returned to work after a year- long sabbatical and now in my 4th week. I had agreed with my wife to take a year out to care for our daughter whilst she concentrated on her career. During that year I acquired new skills (turning anything normal or mundane into a fun activity) and lost others (the ability to hold a conversation for more than 30 seconds). And upon my return to work I have been putting my new found skills to good use whilst trying desperately to remember the skills I have lost

Time management: This skill was tested to the extreme. People think you have all day to do things when you’re at home with a young one/s. What they don’t realise is that time is a finite and has the ability to disappear. When you try to leave the house at 9.30am, not too early as you’ve been up since 6am, but you have a screaming 3 year old refusing to put their boots on because you already put your shoes on and she wanted to be first… it’s amazing how 1 or 2 hrs just disappear.

Patience and empathy: Anyone working in HR or Recruitment will already have a certain amount of patience and empathy. Whether it’s with your client group, an individual employee or your boss, being able to empathise and understand the viewpoint of others is a vital skill. Believing I had this covered after years of recruitment experience I mistakenly thought a 3 year olds’ issues could never be as complex as those that I have successfully hurdled in the work place. What I didn’t realise is that having patience with a distressed colleague is literally child’s play compared to the attempted negotiations with said 3 year old who refuses to walk down the street, refuses to be picked up and then wets themselves on purpose because the adult clearly is not understanding the severity of the situation. The cold war stand-off can only last so long when your only child is steadily catching pneumonia whilst you are refusing give in to her demands. Trying to empathise with her predicament and understand her point of view was tricky to say the least and of course she won in the end. As Daddy had to carry her all the way home for a hot bath and dinner before mummy got home.

So back to the point in hand. Returning to work after any type of break can be a fairly big shock to the system but luckily, although you might believe your brain has gone to mush whilst watching CBeebies & Mr Tumble for a year, actually it really doesn’t take long for those lazy brain cells to kick back into gear and within a week it’s like you never left. Big clever words you used to use come straight back to your vocabulary and once again you are the Einstein of the office.
Life today is certainly different to this time last month but both have their challenges and stresses. I certainly have a new-found respect for all those stay at home parents but I can’t say I’m missing the tantrums or crying. Except I now have it from my boss.

Dean Elliott is a Senior Consultant in the Interim team in London and is glad he’s about to do the maternity cover for his boss.