Woman smiling1. WHAT SKILLS HAVE I GOT?

Start by listing the obvious ones, from any previous jobs.

Then think about all those life skills you have gained along the way. You may not have been employed for years but you will have developed skills of value to an employer:

  • Looking after children requires good organizational and time management skills.
  • Dealing with teenagers will have honed your verbal negotiation skills.
  • Have you been a member of a school parent’s association, or helped to run charity events or sat on a village committee, so you could show presentational, organizational and resourcing skills?
  • Do you manage the family finances?
  • Have you had to give or follow instructions ?
  • Have you done any voluntary work? Interpersonal skills learned from such work can be a real asset.
  • Are you competent in Word and Excel? If so you could list computer skills – even if they are basic.
  • Have you worked as part of a team?
  • Do you get on well with people?
  • Have you attended any adult education classes or other training?
  • Do you speak a language?

For further information click on Transferrable Skills.

Woman pensive holding pen 22. WHAT DO I WANT TO DO? WHAT MOTIVATES ME?

You need to think about what motivates you to want to return to work, what you would like to do and why? Once you have thought about this, try to identify any skills that you may have to do this job and then look at any skill gaps that exist.

Here are some areas you need to address :

  • If for example you want to work in an office of any kind, then the chances are they will expect basic office computer skills.
  • How many hours/days a week do you want work?
  • If you are fortunate and can choose, do you want a paid job, which carries more restrictions on your time, or do you want to be a volunteer? How do you feel about having someone tell you what to do when you have effectively been your own boss for years?
  • Do you want to do something reasonably undemanding or do you want the challenge of a bit of pressure?

With your new found free time and energy this could be a chance to start something new – like a home business! Why not take the plunge? If the thought of starting a business sounds daunting, remember that many successful businesses started off small. Cassie runs Women’s Way To Wealth , an amazing community of savvy women running their own businesses from home. You can also read Cassie’s article by clicking here.

Woman with ipad3. WHAT JOBS CAN I DO?

It may feel like you are faced with a blank page, not really knowing what you want to do, or what is out there that you can do. You can search for jobs in a variety of ways:

  • Local papers and internet.
  • Ask friends, as they may have suggestions that you haven’t thought of, or they may know people leaving a job that might suit you.
  • Register with recruitment agencies.
  • Visit your local High Street – shops may be wanting part time managers, or estate agents often want part time ladies to do house showings or for office duties.
  • Once you have a CV then you could drop it in with a covering letter to local businesses and shops that interest you.

For example, a fascinating new career is becoming a Blue Badge Guide
The training is tough, but if you want a demanding and intellectual challenge that leads to a fascinating job then you could apply to be enrolled on the training course that leads to qualification as a Blue Badge Guide. It takes 18 months to two years, with very intensive study over a wide ranging and broad curriculum to achieve the Blue Badge’s internationally recognised tourist guide qualification. You need to be extremely focused and dedicated, but whilst the training is tough it is also packed with interest. You will gain extensive knowledge of all the key historic sites in your designated area and by the end you will be able to give a coach load of tourists a potted history of every famous attraction in your chosen area. If you train to guide in London, you will become one of the few experts that are allowed to guide in the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the National Gallery.
Training is with a mix of home study packs, attending lectures twice weekly, plus regular training sessions with visiting experts or touring key cities. They are desperate to enroll linguists, particularly in London. The cost is £5,000 plus exam fees, but it you will end up as the crème de la crème of guides.
For London guiding email the Guild of Registered Tourist Guides
You can also find a useful summary of what is involved by clicking here
Or go to How to be a Blue Badge Guide

If you want to find out more from someone who is a Blue Badge guide or you are planning an event and need a guide in the South East, contact Amanda on amanda@southeasttourguides.co.uk


When you’re looking at the skills you have, you may also identify areas where you’re not so strong or where you have gaps. Don’t worry about this as there are ways to develop the skills you need so you can get where you want to be.

Once you know what type of job you’d really like, do some research into the skills and experience that these jobs normally need. Compare these to the list you have made of your transferable skills and find any gaps.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been out of work, brushing up on your existing skills, or getting training to learn new ones, can give you a major advantage when looking for work and can get you noticed by employers.

Use the list below for suggestions on how to develop the skills you need. All of these activities can help you develop new skills and build on your experience, and they’ll boost your self-confidence too.

You may want to consider:

  • doing some voluntary work
  • taking part in a hobby, joining a charity committee or group
  • doing some part-time unpaid work to gain experience
  • registering with a recruitment agency and doing some temporary work
  • going on a training course

If you have an existing qualification, like teaching, then the internet will give you information on refresher courses.

Adult education offers a wide range of computer skills courses, accountancy courses or courses to brush up on a foreign language. They also offer a variety of courses and workshops in self development and personal skills to build your confidence.

A good way to update your skills is to book yourself on a free course run at your local university or college. There is a lot of help on offer to bring you up to speed on technology etc. You just have to find the right course and be proactive!

Find out more about the training and help available on your local Government Education and Learning website.


It is important to produce a sharp and focused CV which does you justice, makes you stand out from the crowd, and which you can use either with a job application or send to a prospective employer with a covering letter. It is also a useful exercise to do if you are going to an interview, as it will focus your mind on the key selling points to make about yourself.

  • A skills-based CV, where you focus on what you can do, while highlighting your particular strengths, rather than a chronological one, which lists where you have worked, should help you to manage the “hole” which will be on your CV during the time you have been out of work.
  • A well-worded skills-based CV can sell you to an employer in terms of you as a person and what you can bring to the organisation, rather than where you have worked before, which is always problematic for women returners.
  • Tailor your CV for each application – write the company name and a description of the job title at the top. Have a basic structure that can be easily changed to show how your skills and experience match the particular job you’re applying for.
  • Use bullet points to set out specific things you have done and their outcomes –ie: I did X because of my skills in Y and it helped the company/ society/ PTA etc achieve Z. Try and put them into the context of the job.
  • Keep applications short, to the point and easy to read. Some employers will require you to fill in an application form.

Useful tips on CV’s and interviews can be found by searching “interview tips” on the internet.

This example of a CV may help with layout.