Let’s face it– money matters. With household expenses rising, families on single incomes with children can find it tough to manage financially.
While there are certainly pluses for mothers and wives to stay home as homemakers, financial juggling can lead to increased stress and tensions at home too. In the case of Noor Shuhadah, who took a career break, it made more sense to return to the workforce.
The 40-year-old mother of three said to Workipedia by MyCareersFuture at a recent career fair at Heartbeat@Bedok: “Financial stability is still very important in maintaining the quality of family life. I believe if that’s managed well, it can ensure that the family can remain more harmonious, and also reach our joint goals together.”
The career fair launched Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) new initiative called “herCareer”, which brings programmes and information for women, and ensures that they are matched with jobs that meet their personal and professional needs.
Why do some women take a career break?
Currently employed, Shuhadah took a career break of over a year to care for her children and family. She had previously been working in grassroots activities for over a decade, picking up many skills in organising events.
Shuhadah left her role as an outreach and program coordinator at Daughters of Tomorrow, a charity organization that supports women from low-income families towards accessible job opportunities in August 2021.
She elaborated: “I took a career break because I wanted to concentrate on my family. I was spending too much time on work and felt I was neglecting them, and my kids’ grades were suffering a bit.”
“So, I decided to stay home for some time to make sure that everything got back to normal.
Shuhadah left Daughters of Tomorrow, despite loving the role, after consulting her husband. Although he did have some reservations about the career time-out, she decided it was the right thing to do for their children.
“During the time-out, I put the kids’ timetable in order, fixed their routines to make sure they did their studies and cleaned up the house to make it conducive for the family.
“But quite early on, I had also started working on my resume and applying for suitable roles. It took about 3-5 months of that to find the right job.”
Even though her three kids aren’t that young anymore (17, 15, and 12), they provide a different set of challenges, despite not needing her to prepare meals or change diapers.
Shuhadah also revealed that the main reason for the break was also to take care of the youngest child, as it was his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) year.
What’s the best way for women to return from a career break?
But once his exams had finished, it was necessary for her to look at returning to the workforce to make juggling the finances at home easier. Of course, the children still mattered, so she needed to find a job that would allow her to still keep an eye on them.
“I tried to find a job that I’m passionate about, that’s an office job with regular hours, and not shift-based. Those were the key factors in my job search, so I could multi-task for my family,” Shuhadah revealed.
How does career coaching help those returning from a career break?
Of course, it did take some time to find the right role that matched her needs, but with the help of her career coach from Workforce Singapore’s Career Connect programme in November 2021, she managed to find the right role.
According to her coach, her resume didn’t capture her skills and core competencies. The programme aided her in providing clarity and guidance on Shuhadah’s job search by helping her do a career self-discovery, explore her possible options, and plan for what she really wanted to do.
She also received guidance on resume customisation, and her career coach reached out to potential employers as well.
Shuhadah added:” I got good pointers from my career coach on my resume — to take out certain points. Some of what I had was unnecessary, and it made it more effective to remove them.”
She had found the Careers Connect programme from advertisements on social media, and thought it was a good platform to help her job search.
Ultimately, she’s happy with the choices that she made, and her career journey.
Shuhadah concluded: “For us women, sometimes we have to take a certain break, and remember mental wellness is important. Take a pause, rearrange your schedule, and get back to your career!”