- Helen McGuire is CEO of MCG Group and co-founder of flexible work recruiter Hopscotch (www.hopscotch.ae)
- Racha Alkhawaja is the head of institutional coverage at Menacorp and a partner at Reach (www.reachmentoring.org)
- Emily Christensen is the director of H3O International Recruitment and founder of Facebook page Part-time Jobs for Mums and Dads (Facebook.com/dubaiparttime)
Q I'd love to get back to work but after 10 years spent raising my kids, I'm dreading going back into an office full of 20-somethings.
A Emily Christensen says: "Don't be discouraged. After several years off, it's natural for things to be a bit different. Colleagues will seem younger and the application and interview process will feel harder than when you were changing jobs every few years, but by doing your research and defining the roles that you are looking for and ruling out options that will just not be viable, you will succeed."
Q I've seen a fabulous job advertised, but it sounds a little demanding. Should I go for it anyway?
A Emily Christensen says: "As attractive as it sounds, it's important to be realistic. If you were in a position where you were working 18 hours a day, but now those working conditions are not feasible then don't apply. There are plenty of people willing to do those roles and you don't want to set yourself up for rejection, even if you can justify why you were rejected. The right role will come along in time."
Q I want to go back part time. What are my options when it comes to visas?
A Helen McGuire says: "The visa situation is the responsibility of the company that's hiring and depends on the individual, their personal circumstances and the company's requirements at the time. Our research shows that two thirds of clients don't have issues with visas or work permits where recruiting is concerned and it's much less of a 'one size fits all' answer for more flexible work. We partner with Creative Zone and their legal team and there are many perfectly viable options out there, including a part-time work visa."
Q I'm keen to get back to work and have found a great nursery for my toddler but I'm worried any future employer will view me as less committed than a child-free candidate.
A Helen McGuire says: "In this region, we are enormously lucky that childcare can be more affordable and accessible. At Hopscotch, we ensure that clients are aware of our aims and principles where placing mums is concerned and that, though mums may have to wear many hats, commitment and a hard-working attitude are two attributes they possess in spades. As we all know, we mums certainly don't waste time while we're at work, so that we can keep work and family life as balanced as possible. Our advice would be to ensure you are clear on what you can and cannot offer time-wise with prospective employers to avoid any issues in the future."
Q Going back to work while covering the cost of childcare means we won't be much better off. Am I mad for considering bringing the extra pressure into my life?
A Racha Alkhawaja says: "Employment and contributing to the economy offers a sense of fulfilment and value as a human being. In turn, this feeling makes us happier in all areas of life. Don't worry about juggling as, with practice, you will find that the more you have to do, the more organised you will become. The self-satisfaction of managing both is priceless, whether you are being paid a lot of money or not."
Q Having another wage coming in will be great but I'm concerned about keeping up with all the extra outgoings that come with it.
A Racha Alkhawaja says: "Having a child is expensive, so align your expectations. Childcare isn't cheap and you have to budget and cut spending elsewhere. This is the reality, so deal with it as best you can. Try setting a monthly budget sheet so you can clearly see where to cut expenses. When you feel financially strapped from the expense of baby and childcare, remember you are working for a long-term goal where you will earn more once you settle and prove yourself again. You are now compromising for a better future. It's a noble act that your children will grow up one day and appreciate."