To improve their chances of returning to work with confidence or moving up the corporate ladder, it is important for job-seeking women to start their search on the right footing.

Apart from updating their resumés, working on interview techniques and brushing up on their grooming, it is essential for these women to have the right skills to meet the demands of the jobs they want.

These skills include becoming up-to-date with advances in technology and the latest business practices.

Women can seek career advice and counselling from educational institutions that may involve enrolling in courses to update their knowledge or to acquire the relevant work skills.

Currently, there are plenty of programmes for all levels of female employment, from operational staff and junior executives to managers and management-level executives.

Women can also consider taking up corporate training courses in areas such as creativity and innovation, personal effectiveness and emotional intelligence.

To boost their confidence and make important connections, women who want to return to work should participate actively in networking events such as seminars or workshops, especially those that feature outstanding women who are keen to share their knowledge and skills with other women.


Adapting to change

After a hiatus of a few years, some women may feel intimidated or overwhelmed by new demands at the workplace.

To cope better, they will need to organise their priorities and seek a new work-life balance that allows them to have a job without being overly stressed by the change in their lifestyles.

Most importantly, women should be open-minded, flexible and willing to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge.

Besides upgrading their skills and knowledge to keep pace with current developments and changes in the workplace, they must learn to manage their expectations in a working environment in which they rub shoulders with younger, well-educated colleagues. 

Mothers returning to work must also learn how to overcome their self-doubts and fears.

Going for counselling and obtaining career advice can help to address their concerns and ease them into working life again.

For those who might require financial assistance in their bid to upgrade their skills, they can try applying for scholarships, bursaries and study grants that educational institutions like Management Development Institute of Singapore provide.


Brighter job prospects today

Going back to work can be unsettling for some women. In fact, they often face several obstacles that can prevent them from taking up employment.

These range from family objections, the need to care for children and elderly parents, as well as the lack of relevant skills required for today’s dynamic economy.

One of the most significant factors is the lack of self-confidence many women experience.

They fear not being able to adapt to working life or to cope with job demands in the fast-paced business world.

For some, they may prefer not to come out of their comfort zone to work again.

For mothers with grown-up children, they may be willing to rejoin the workforce but only if employers offer flexible working hours or part-time schemes.

While some obstacles to re-employment exist, the reality is that the working environment in Singapore today is much more conducive for women who want to rejoin the workforce.

Government initiatives are providing more childcare and elderly care options, and private sector companies are also offering flexible work schemes and encouraging greater work-life balance.

These moves will open up more avenues for women to build their careers and contribute to the economy.

As women are more well-educated and vocal today, they are making a strong impact on the local employment scene.

Indeed, women made up nearly half of the workforce of 2.12 million residents in the labour force in June 2012.

Employers are also now more enlightened as they recognise the value of women’s contributions in the workplace.

In addition, more women are holding top management positions in Singapore, and it is likely they will have a positive impact on companies’ policies towards female employees.