“Go jer, don’t scared”: Kakak’s Tips for Women Looking to Return to the Workforce

“Go jer, don’t scared”: Kakak’s Tips for Women Looking to Return to the Workforce

Late last year, I had an epiphany- I’m no longer needed at home.

This is not the start of a sob K-Drama story, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. Now that the kids are bigger and more independent, staying at home was no longer the only choice I had to make.

I decided that it was time to trade my classic baju butterfly for two-piece office wear and my shopping trolley for a tote bag… level up from makcik to mak-chic!

I also had to forgo my title (one that I’ve held for the last 10 years at home!) as Chief Marketing Officer to Project Coordinator. While the job is very similar to what I used to do before, I must admit that it took a while for me to get used to the 3Ps- the pace, people and platforms!

As Chief Marketing Officer at home, I could do things at my own pace, and set, and manage my KPIs. For example, when I don’t feel like whipping up different dishes for lunch and dinner, I will just cook extra portions for lunch!  I was my own boss!

In this job, I need to churn reports and meet deadlines. Similarly, it took a while to get accustomed to always being around people and regain a professional demeanour.

But the most challenging thing for me was to figure out the different online tools, platforms, and resources! So different from the past, now most things are done digitally, including my interviews!

Was I ready?

Did you know women make up 60 per cent of the caregivers in Singapore and in dual-income households, women were five times more likely than men to be managing housework and caregiving responsibilities?

While caregiving was no longer a priority for me, I was still worried about juggling work and family commitments.

What if the children got sick? What if I couldn’t get home in time to cook dinner? Would I have time to do laundry?

When I shared these worries with my Abang, he said, just roll with the punches lah! Go big or go home (which was ironically the reason why I had to quit my job 10 years ago…I had to stay home with the children!)

We prepared and worked out a schedule for the entire family. We list out the things that needed to be addressed together and worked out routines and house chores to be shared.

Was I overwhelmed?

For someone who had been out of a job for over a decade, returning to work was not an overnight decision that I made. I instinctively turned to Google which made me feel even more overwhelmed when I realised many of my skills were outdated. Stress akak!

The first thing I did, was to look for opportunities to develop new marketable skillsets and seek to find opportunities to upskill.

I signed up for all sorts of things- networking sessions to professional development courses, career coaching and job fairs even outreach sessions, where I listened to industry experts sharing short introductions on topics like tech and professional branding. I wanted to show potential employers I embrace lifelong learning and never shun away from putting in the effort to upgrade with relevant skill sets.

Attending these networking and career development courses also helped me to make new friends and I even met some of my ex-colleagues who have moved into new sectors. I was very impressed by how many of them were very supportive of my decision to get back into the workforce.

They filled me in on current common practices and gave me insights on things that I took for granted. One example was creating a LinkedIn profile. The last time I wrote a resume was decades ago when LinkedIn didn’t even exist!

Was I scared?

Talking to my friends gave me the dose of encouragement I needed to regain my confidence and made the thought of returning to work a bit easier to face.

Truth be told, I nearly gave up right at the beginning when I sensed that my capabilities have expired- I didn’t feel what I used to do was still relevant today. But what kept me going was the support and encouragement from the people around me. Trust the process, they say!

You all know about WSW?

If you’re just like me and looking for support, check out the Women Supporting Women (WSW) Mentorship Programme

The WSW Mentorship Programme is a six-month-long community mentoring programme that offers female job seekers, including fresh graduates, women-returners and mid-career switchers, an opportunity to be mentored by women leaders with professional experiences across diverse industries.

Last Friday, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) U Women and Family (U WAF) partnered with the North-East Community Development Council (CDC) to expand the WSW Mentorship Programme to all female residents in the district. This follows the successful pilot of the WSW Mentorship Programme that was first launched by U Women and Family (U WAF) in Punggol Shore Constituency in 2020 which benefited a total of 48 mentees.

The expansion of the WSW Mentorship Programme to more constituencies is in line with the recommendations put forth by the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development, particularly on one of the key action plans on ensuring equal opportunities for women in the workforce.

If there have been times in the past when you said to yourself, “one day I will go back to work again”, the time is now. Such ground initiatives will not only help you prepare better but will be a morale booster for sure!

It is indeed possible to transition gracefully and confidently into the workplace. Don’t scared, go jer!

For more information about the WSW Mentorship Programme, please visit https://www.uwomenandfamily.org.sg

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