Being a mum is a steep learning curve, and the job description reads like a jack-of-all trades. Most mums I know can turn their hand to pretty much anything.  Run the canteen on sports day? Sure. Cater a birthday bash for forty? All in a day’s work. Coach the under 8’s soccer team? Why not? Construct an entire set for the school musical using old cardboard boxes and cellophane? Show me the hot glue gun!

But when it comes to establishing a new career after a parenting break, it can pay to invest in expert career help for mums. A professional careers coach can really assist with the groundwork, and lay a solid foundation for success.

If you’ve had some time out of the paid workforce while you raise children, it can be overwhelming heading back out into the job market.

Many of my clients feel lost or simply don’t know where to start. As a professional careers coach I help them find clarity around their career direction. A lot of return-to-work mums are seeking something different from their previous jobs, or looking at the job market through a different lens – they want roles that fit with their family commitments, as well as their financial objectives and personal goals. For some this may even involve completely changing profession. Exercises such as exploring values and strengths, job market research, and goal-setting guides clients through this exploration phase, to develop a clear set of career goals. A good careers coach will also provide information and resources to help you establish a career pathway in your chosen profession or industry.

With technology moving forward so quickly, and recruitment practices with it, it is essential to keep up. No longer can you rely solely on jobs advertisement boards! Professional careers coaches stay on top of these trends for you, and can provide expert advice and leads on how to sniff out career opportunities. Including job search strategies you probably haven’t even considered!

And once you’ve found what you’re looking for, a careers coach can help you to stand out from the crowd. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, chances are your resume needs an overhaul. A professional careers coach can help you to prepare a high impact resume, establish a professional social media profile, and assist with answering even the most tricky selection criteria, to show your skills and experience in the best light. Their knowledge of what employers are looking for can help you prioritise what information to include (and what to cut), and improve the layout and presentation of your application. They can also provide assistance and advice on new tactics being used by employers, such as video applications or interviews.

Interviews can also be daunting, especially if you haven’t been to one in a while! Interview coaching can really make a difference. A professional careers coach will help you to prepare for a wide range of questions and can work with you to develop your answers. They will also give you expert advice on how to present yourself confidently and flawlessly to a prospective employer.

Probably the most important aspect of careers coaching is fostering confidence. A lot of mums I see lack self-confidence, and this can be a huge barrier to success. It’s easy to think that your professional experience has become out-dated while you’ve been out of the paid workforce, but actually, you’ve been developing and diversifying your skillset outside a professional setting. Recognising and documenting all these transferable skills and being able to articulate them to a prospective employer, is an important first step in building your self-worth. Sharing experiences with other mums, and the strategies that have succeeded for others, can also be a powerful way to inspire and empower you on your return-to-work journey.

For many mums, returning to work can be filled with hurdles and pitfalls. But you are not alone, and you don’t have to do it all yourself! With just a little expert guidance, served up with inspiration on the side, you can overcome many of these barriers and get started on the road to your dream job. Perhaps it’s time you investigated what a careers coach could do for you.

If you’re seeking some career inspiration, check out my client success stories.

Donna Thistlethwaite is a professional career coach who provides career help for mums. Donna helps clients develop the practical skills and motivation they need to pursue a career they love. You can sign up to the CareerSmart Mums monthly newsletter for information, resources and inspiration at www.careersmartmums.com.au.