Return to Work

How we help people take their skills, experiences and insights back to the workplace

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Speaking with a professional who recognised my ability, skills and potential gave me a lot of confidence. And having guidance on how to answer key questions in interviews was very useful. The mentoring sessions have reconnected me with the person I was before my career break.”

– Shabana, parent returner, Manchester 

Looking to return to work? We’re here to help. 

Planning your return from a career break can be daunting. It’s easy to overestimate changes in the workplace. To underestimate the value of hard-earned experience. And to ignore the skills we gain from our responsibilities beyond work.

That’s why access to the right practical advice and encouragement can make such a difference. And that’s why we’re here – our Steps Ahead programme connects you with a mentor who’ll work with you online, step by step, for up to 22 weeks.

Our mentors are experts in people and work, willing to volunteer their time, experience and enthusiasm. They come from multiple industries and sectors. They know what employers are looking for. They know how recruitment works. And they know how to boost your confidence, ask the right questions, tweak a CV, prepare you for an interview, and help you succeed and grow at work.

Already on Steps Ahead? Log in to your account

Helping those who need it most

We’re here for those who want advice and encouragement to take their skills, experiences and insights back to the workplace.

So we focus our free, nationwide support on:

  • parents and carers looking to return or transition to a new career.
  • those unemployed or part-time who have the right to work in the UK and are looking for work in the UK.

Is this you? Is this you? Or someone you know? Or someone you work with?

Sign up to Steps Ahead here

  • Due to high demand, it’s taking us longer than usual to match mentors with mentees. Please bear with us – we’ll get you matched as soon as we can.

Coming up…

We’re here to connect people facing the biggest barriers to good work with people professionals, leaders, organisations and partners. And we’re currently adapting our well-established programmes to support:

  • people over 50 who want to return to work or transition into a new career
  • people with experience of the criminal justice system looking to develop in work
  • refugees looking to transfer their experience or transition into a new career

Get in touch to find out more.

How our mentors make a difference

How our mentors make a difference
All our mentors are experienced in recruiting, coaching, learning and people strategy. As champions for better work, they give their time to develop and deliver our programmes. 
60% success rate
And their expertise shows. 60% of our mentees go on to get a job, apprenticeship or internship.
The experience of our community of people professionals sets us apart. And we maximise our impact by working in partnership with other charities and agencies.

Learn more about our impact.

Get involved

Want to be a mentor? Or partner with us?

How can we combine our expertise and resources to make a bigger difference?

Get involved

Make it Work: Getting the Job You Want After a Career Break

Are you ready to return to work after taking time away from the workplace? Our webinar discusses how to make sure that you are applying for a job that’s right for you.  

Tatia’s story

Mentoring helped Tatia feel seen again.

Science technician Tatia had taken time out of her career to look after her children. She was keen to get back into work when she signed up for Steps Ahead mentoring. “I was working full-time and I was a career freak. And then, five years away from that, it felt like my brain had melted. I had no idea how to switch back from being a full-time mum. Thanks to the mentoring I felt seen again.” She attended an interview two days after meeting her mentor and was offered the job the same day. Both part-time and term-time hours, Tatia describes her new role as ‘the dream job’. So, did Tatia feel she gained much value from what must be one of the shortest mentoring relationships ever? “Definitely” she says adamantly. “I was a mess. The first time I felt really good about myself was connecting with Owen. He really calmed me down. He was excited about my CV because I had a good career, but the CV was five years old. The fact that he said I’m not useless was important. So I started realising I’m not done. I can go back. Through just a few emails and one session he helped me to feel that I can do this. That one session helped tremendously.”

Frequently asked questions

Is Steps Ahead for me?

Steps Ahead is for anyone who has taken a career break for parenting or caring and is not in full-time employment. You must be looking for work in the UK (and have the right to work there). No matter which aspect of the job search you need support with, we’re here to help.

How does it work?

Once you are registered, one of our expert mentors will match with you and contact you to arrange a first conversation. You will receive support for up to 22 weeks to help you find and secure a job.

Who will I receive support from?

You will receive one-to-one support from one of our mentors who are experts in people and work. They know the recruitment process and what employers are looking for. They work in roles covering Human Resources, Learning and Development and Organisational Design so they understand what it takes to get a job. Our mentors know how hard it can be to return to work, so they give their time to the programme for free.

How much time will it take?

The programme is flexible depending on what you and your mentor agree. It normally involves meeting regularly for up to 22 weeks. Each meeting will usually last for an hour and can be online or on the phone. We recommend that you sign up when you are ready to begin your job search, so don’t forget to think about how you will fit your mentoring around existing commitments such as school holidays.

How long will it take for a mentor to match with me?

Once you have registered, it will take up to three weeks for a mentor to match with you. Once you are matched, you will receive an email notification and your mentor will contact you to arrange your first conversation.