Re-joining the workforce after a  break comes with inevitable challenges. It’s common to find advice, such as – be confident, explain your career gap unapologetically, upskill, update your CV, etc. This is, no doubt, essential while you’re on a career break and actively seeking a new role, but in this blog, I would like to focus on that one thing that should be a constant, even while you are in a steady and satisfying job – working on your relationships.

I have spoken to and interviewed a number of successful women re-joiners, starting with my own mother. At the age of 58, she returned to work after a layoff. No doubt that it was partly due to her resilience and desire to continue being productive, but equally to her ability to harness the power of her relationships. She was able to find job opportunities from acquaintances or former colleagues whom she had kept in touch with.

Hers is not an isolated case. While in Hong Kong, I often came across trailing spouses, some with huge gaps in their careers when their partners were placed in countries where it was almost impossible to find paid work. So what did they do? They nurtured existing relationships and sought out new ones. They kept themselves in the game with ongoing personal and professional development.

Recent studies suggest that while men and women both need to network to advance their careers, women may need to also work on building a close inner circle of women friends, in addition to the wider professional networks. This makes perfect sense. A wide professional network and deep friendships will help you return to work and grow in your career. Just remember to pass on the favour to your female peers and juniors when they are in need of the same.

This article was written by  Nerice Gietel, one of our partner coaches who helps women to align their careers with their life goals by using tools and coaching conversations that help them to increase their self-awareness and use this knowledge to take actions. You can get in touch via her profile page, visiting her website    or on Instagram