Nicola O'Hanlon
Nicola O'Hanlon
Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

Is returning to legal recruitment after maternity leave like starting a new job?

As I left for maternity leave (in December 2017!), I was determined (being the non-‘mumsy’ person I thought I was) to return to ‘real life’ after nine months – at the very longest. In reality, I had my little girl in January 2018 and after spending the best year ever with her, a few blinks later, it was January 2019: time to return to ‘real life’ and at that time, I couldn’t think of anything worse than handing her over to nursery most of the week to do my job for me!

And when it came to the world of legal recruitment, the thought of being out of the loop for such a long time made me slightly anxious about returning to work, let alone the fact I’m the most fly by the seat of my pants person I know! (How I get me and my little person out of the house – dressed and on time is a miracle… but we do it! In fact, becoming a mum has made me more efficient than ever. I can’t believe what I can (now) fit into an hour.)

Having never taken more than two weeks’ annual leave off at a time in my entire working life, I thought I’d never settle back into work, but after a week, it was like I’d never been away.

In all seriousness, my advice for any soon-to-be/new mums who are thinking about returning to work is that it’s not too dissimilar to starting a new job, especially if you’re taking a full year out.  Be realistic; give yourself time to settle in. There’ll be new people, processes, and systems, but in a good workplace, it shouldn't take long to settle and soon enough you'll go back to feeling like you’ve always been there!

Flexibility is key

I’m really lucky as I’m allowed to adapt my 'old job' to fit around my 'new job'.  Flexible working is essential if you want to balance the two. Altering your working hours or working a day or more from home to maximise your time (i.e. if you have a long commute) helps make this possible.

This flexibility has to work both ways so that each party has a win/win; be prepared to return the flexibility you’re given, and ensure you're accountable and making a fair contribution to your team and organisation. For me, this involves doing a few post-baby-bedtime shifts, which is ideal in my job as it’s a great time to catch up with my candidates who find it impossible to speak during their busy day.

Ultimately, it's actually possible to make work, work!

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