So in the beginning, it was meant to be just a \u201cpregnant pause\u201d from work. You decided to take a break from your career to have and raise a child. Maybe that was a year ago, or maybe it was a decade and several children ago but in the blink of an eye, your baby has grown up and now there\u2019s a gnawing restlessness within you that\u2019s asking for personal growth and challenge. The time has clearly come to put the focus back on yourself.\u00a0 You worked hard to build a career, it's time to make a comeback. But where do you begin? How do you begin? It\u2019s never easy to transition back into the workforce after being away from it for so long. Your first feelings will be trepidation, if not downright nervousness. So much has changed since you\u2019ve been gone. The job market has shifted and workplace cultures and technologies have evolved. Today's buzzwords all revolve around fintech, bots, cloud, big data... Will employers find you still relevant? Will they want to accommodate time-offs for mothering concerns? Most importantly, will you be able to keep up? Enticements in Business & at Work for Career Comeback Mums The good news is \u2500 now, more than ever, the environment has become conducive for mothers to return to work. During the recent announcement of Budget 2020, for instance, our government made a very strident call-out to women to come back to work. \u00a0In the tabling of Budget 2020, it said it had set a target of achieving a 60% labour force participation rate (LFPR) for women and to entice them to come back, the government had pledged to give women (aged 30 to 50) a RM500 monthly incentive (on top of their salaries) for a full two years if they rejoin the workforce. Those eligible are mums who became stay-at-home for a year or more. Women returning to work will additionally enjoy extended income tax exemption from now until 2023. To further incentivize the initiative, the government had said it will also, at the same time, subsidize the employer with RM300 every month for hiring these mothers for the same period of two years. For women who prefer to start their own businesses instead, Budget 2020 has allocated a RM500 million Business Loan Guarantee Scheme just for women entrepreneurs. Further business opportunities for women include a RM200 million fund from SME Bank called Women Entrepreneur Financing Programme (WEP) fund which offers loans from RM500,000 to RM2.5 million. There is a further RM300 million fund to support Bumiputera SMEs with priority given to the halal industry. So there you go. From this year on, women will enjoy a \u201cleg-up\u201d from our government to compete on an even playing field. It is now up to you. Attracting and retaining highly skilled mothers who have left the workforce has become a priority, not just for businesses to combat skills shortages but also for the country to drive the economy forward. Mums, you are sorely needed in the workplace. But you need to do some homework first. Before Returning to Work, You Need to do Your Homework 1. Focus on the 3 C\u2019s: CV, Conferences and Certification The first focus needs no explanation. Spruce up that CV. Your Curriculum Vitae or resume is the most important document you\u2019ll create for yourself in your job search. It is the first thing your potential employer will look at before deciding if he wants to give you an interview. And since \u201cbrevity is the soul of wit\u201d as they say, your CV should be short and snazzy, attention grabbing and pack a well-aimed wallop at first glance. For help on doing CVs, here is a link to free professional field-tested CV templates you may find useful. You may also want to put up your profile in LinkedIn and other professional networking sites or even have your own website to showcase your work portfolio. Your reach will get further if you make your presence felt online. Then get busy with scouring job sites. You might even want to sign up with recruitment agencies. Offline, you can network with your peers by going for conferences, classes and certification courses. You want to re-engage with your industry and your career and find the jargon that resonates best within your professional circles to show you can stand shoulder-to-shoulder, you haven\u2019t missed a beat and can speak their language just as effectively. 2. On the Homefront, Plan Your Logistics Determine who will take care of your child once you begin working. How far is the daycare centre\/babysitter\/preschool\/school away from your home? How far is your office? Who will fetch and send, or more importantly, how will you fetch and send and make it on time for everything required at home, work and play. Always do a trial run or a few trial runs before the real day of work begins so that both you and your child are already eased into the new routes and new timetable well before it happens. Factor in traffic jams and delays in travelling time. And if possible, start your first day of work midweek, like a Thursday, so that you get to take a breather in the weekend two days later. Be aware that the first two weeks of fulltime work are usually office boot camp weeks. \u00a0You will need to land on your feet and run from the word Go.\u00a0 A little rest in between to make the necessary mental and physical adjustments will be most helpful. 3. Be Upfront with Yourself and your Employer Before you start sending out your CV, know what you really want. Ask yourself: What industry are you best suited for, what type of organization will fit your personality best and what position are you aiming for? Are you willing to travel, work after hours and attend events or do you prefer to stay in the office and go home at 6pm sharp everyday? The clearer you are with what you want out of returning to work, the easier it will be to hone in on the jobs you want to apply for.\u00a0 Not only that, you will also know what kind of office culture you will want to get into and by extension, what kind of employer you are seeking for. First Hand Stories from Preparing-to-Return-to-Work Mums Here are four mums who have taken a break from their careers but have decided to return to work. \u00a0This is their story. Siti Noorhana Saidin and her daughter. Siti Noorhana, 37, is a registered engineer with a Chemical Engineering Degree from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. She has held diversified roles in her career of seven years, with the recent being an Asset Integrity Engineer in WorleyParsons. As a devoted mum to a two-year-old daughter, she is passionate about Early Childhood Development. She currently runs a biweekly playgroup alongside a few mothers with the tagline \u201c150 hours outside\u201d in order to promote outdoor playtime and nature exploration for kids. Siti Noorhana stopped work for six years. Why did you stop working?\u00a0 To focus on starting a family. Why are you deciding to come back? I am a planner and throughout my life I set milestones for myself to achieve. My target during the career break was to start a family and now that my child is two years of age, I have decided to return to the workforce. How do you feel about your decision? There was some hesitation at first but I am excited to return because I like contributing and helping businesses succeed. Does the monthly RM500 in Budget 2020 for come-back mothers have anything to do with your decision? When I made my decision, the budget was yet to be announced but now that it has been announced, it is definitely a huge help and incentive for career relaunchers like me. How will you deal with logistics\/who will take care of your kids when you return to work? Logistics-wise, it\u2019s not too hard as I plan to work in KL and use either my car or public transport to commute. We have identified a good preschool about 10 mins from home that will take my kid in next year and also, we will use kiddocare.my babysitting services to take care of her during emergencies. What are you doing for yourself to get ready to come back? I joined a Career Comeback programme under Lean In Malaysia this year where I was paired with 18 other women roaring to go back to work. We were given tools, masterclasses and platforms for us to learn and network and these have definitely boosted our confidence. I have also enrolled in online courses to help me close the skills gap. With the Industrial Revolution 4.0 changing the landscape of the industry faster than ever, it is crucial to continuously upgrade our skills and knowledge in order to be able to keep up. Do you have any expectations when rejoining the workforce? As I am an experienced personnel, catching up should be easy and I should be able to be a solid contributor within six months. Arzierin and her daughter Arzierin Mohd Amin, 43, is a certified supply chain professional with 15 years of experience in the Oil and Gas industry. Her last position was as a global senior demand manager for a lubricants business. Arzierin excels in driving transformational initiatives, customer service, logistics and supply planning at regional and global levels. Dynamic and highly driven in building cross-functional teams, she is passionate in making magic happen within the supply chain sphere. Two of her incredible experiences are the time she had to lead a crisis team during a product shortage for the entire West Malaysia and managing external partners supply security for supply stockout incident at a global level. She has won two Global VP Awards within her organizations for business excellence in innovation and customer service leadership initiatives. Azierin stopped working for two years. Why did you stop working?\u00a0 There was a company restructure, and I took the offer for VSS so that I could pursue professional certification full time and be there as my daughter grew up. At that time, she was three years-plus old. Why are you deciding to come back?\u00a0 Financial needs and to continue my professional ambition to be part of a fantastic company. How do you feel about your decision? My decision to switch career from corporate to domestic engineer was by design. But the decision to stay a bit longer was based on my excitement to be able to spend more time with my daughter and watch her grow up. I am blessed that I have the financial back up to allow me to do it, and an understanding husband. The decision to switch back to be \u00a0a career corporate mum takes a bit of adjustment. I am sad that I am unable to pick up my daughter from school or be around her more during the day time, but at the same time I feel it\u2019s time for this mum to go back and continue the path I envision. Does the monthly RM500 in Budget 2020 for come-back mothers have anything to do with your decision?\u00a0 No, but it does help! However, I am more excited on the tax break we will get for two years! That amount will definitely help us mums to start building back our financial security. How will you deal with logistics\/who will take care of your kids when you return to work? I have prepared my husband and I have a support system ready to step in when required. I am lucky that I am living with my mum, and my extended relatives are ready to assist. What are you doing for yourself to get ready to come back?\u00a0 Looking for a job is full-time work. I have been in this journey actively for the past 11 months! Things I have done: \tSpruced up my CV \u2013 passed around for feedback. I have more than 10 copies to suit the different roles I am applying for. \tUpdated my LinkedIn \u2013 this is a critical tool. I got called thtree times via LI. It is also a good tool to do research on companies you are interested to apply. \tMet up with my network \u2013 letting my network know I am looking for a job. They are my best advocates. \tParticipated in industry events ie conferences, classes \u2013 upskill and keep UpToDate on the trends within supply chain and so on. \tUndertake a professional certification as a boost \tParticipated in LeanIn Malaysia Career Comeback programme for three months \tActively attending Talentcorp career comeback events \tRegistered with talent management companies and head hunter services Do you have any expectations when rejoining the workforce? I am looking forward to a positive environment where my talent and skills can be used to contribute to the bottom line of my future employer. I am a strong advocate that \u201ccareer comeback\u201d women are as talented as anyone else for a job. Their decision to take a career break for whatever reason, should not be seen as a doorstopper. Instead, we should embrace the diversity of talents and wealth of experience they can bring in to any organization. I have been in both world, and I can tell you, being a full time mum is hardwork! We are still required to be sharp in our time management, multi-tasking and in engaging stakeholders (in this case, it would be the family and the children). We need to change the perception and instead of looking at the so-called \u201cgap\u201d period in our CV, let\u2019s focus on our skills, attitudes and experience. Chrishini, with her three children. She never stopped work and was able to bring her children to her office while they were growing up whenever she had to work after hours. Chrishini Richards, 40, has over 17 years\u2019 experience. She spent half of it in audit roles within Ernst & Young Malaysia, Grant Thornton London, and Hess Oil and Gas Malaysia. She then decided to leave the corporate world to join a healthcare company founded by her husband. When she joined the company in 2012, the company had a good turnover but the bottom line was weak. As head of finance, she implemented a number of finance improvement plans. These included strong controls on debt recoverability, best value purchasing of inventory, and cost of sales percentages, thereby improving the financial health of the company. With this, in 2017 she was able to secure a share sale to investors at a P\/E ratio of six times company value. Overall, Chrishini is recognised as a self- driven professional with strong communication skills and an ability to see the bigger picture of organisations. Chrishini Richards did not stop working despite having three boys aged six, three and one. Currently, she is just moving from running a business back to the corporate world. Can you give us your thoughts about your career, your achievements and your family?\u00a0 Work has always been a big part of my life. Pre kids, I worked in large multinationals, gaining experience in KL and London as a financial audit specialist. I loved the technical challenges of different projects but it was a lot of unpredictable hours and a lot of flying around. After having the kids, I wanted a more KL-based role but still with the challenges of work, so I joined a healthcare start up as Head of Finance. It was still a lot of work as the company had ambitious growth plans and investors to report too. However, on the plus side, I had the flexibility of bringing the kids and their toys into the office over the weekends and in the evenings. Seven years later, I achieved the financial targets I was aiming for, and exited the business. I then spent time at home but realised very quickly that with three kids, money runs out very fast especially since my husband and I want to provide the best for the children! It was time for me to return to the workforce and with the tax break initiatives proposed in Budget 2020, there is just no better time. It was nerve racking to be putting myself back to the search, but was greatly aided by all the career comeback programmess for women proposed by TalentCorp and LeanIn Malaysia. LeanIn Malaysia especially played a huge role in building my confidence again though their career comeback programme as I got to meet so many amazing female mentors who showed me that a corporate mum can be all she wants to be, with the right family and company support. It\u2019s just a matter of being brave enough to ask! There's a lot unknown to me at this time, but to quote Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, "She was powerful, not because she wasn't scared but because she went on so strongly, despite the fear". Priya Latha at an outing with her two children. Priya Latha, 37, has a BSC in Computer Systems Engineering (Multimedia) and she was working in the banking line, hotel management, education and IT. Priya stopped working in the corporate world in June 2014 after giving birth to her second child. Both girls have now grown up and are now aged nine and five. Throughout this time, Priya didn\u2019t actually stop work. She started an online business selling Indian fashion and jewellery and plans to continue it even after she gets hired. Priya has varied interests when it comes to her preferred professional fields. She is currently eyeing aviation and hopes to be absorbed into the industry as a ticketing officer, admin or human resource. She is also keen on administrative work in the education industry. Her decision to go back to work is because both her daughters are now going to school. Time will soon be on her hands and she wants to achieve something in life beyond being a devoted mother. Why did you stop working?\u00a0 I needed to take care of my two children. Why are you deciding to come back? I would like to go back to work due to financial issues. I have a lot of commitments plus expenses for my children and parents and since my second child will be going to school soon, it makes it easier to go back to work. How will you deal with logistics\/who will take care of your kids when you return to work? Once I'm back to work, my parent's will be caring for my kids. My kids will be secure and I won't have to worry about strangers babysitting my children when I'm at work. How do you feel about your decision? It feels great to get back to work but it will take time for me to adjust once I secure a job as I took such a long break. Does the monthly RM500 for two years in Budget 2020 for come-back mothers have anything to do with your decision? No. I made the decision before the budget was announced and have been looking for a job for the past few months. I find the incentive useful though as every bit is helpful. What are you doing for yourself to get ready to come back? \tActively searching job sites and checking with friends to see what jobs I can apply for and what the expectations are for a come-back mum. \tPreparing myself to go through the rounds of interviews. \tSpending as much time with my kids now because I know when I begin my job, I may be required to put in the time and effort to prove myself and it will take me away from my kids. Do you have any expectations when rejoining the workforce? None yet. For more stories about working mothers, go to Motherhood.com.my.