When you get through the door, make a beeline for colleagues and clients who make you feel good. Instead of leaving it to chance, why not get a series of one-to-ones booked in with those people? If you have a good sense of what you need to feel confident, ask for it. It might be starting with particular tasks, shadowing someone, getting brought up to speed on a particular case or agreeing expectations of what you'll do in your first week. And remember to go easy on yourself - the acid test is whether you'd say to a friend, what you're saying to yourself.
"After a career break, staff shouldn't be expected to be razor sharp. That said, I read the Journal and the press and did KIT days."
"Starting a new job was very daunting. I think it was really difficult for me. I struggled a lot with a new area of law and new concepts, colleagues, environment etc. to get used to. I just got on with it and tried to be as competitive and committed to my work as I always have been in the past. Perhaps I tried to do too much."
"I probably only got back up to speed in the first couple of weeks back at work. I had the option of a phased return after each baby and used this time back at work to catch-up on files that were still ongoing, read briefing notes and important emails that I had missed and familiarise myself with the new files that I would be taking on."
It might sound ridiculous but it's based in science: before you walk in on your first day (or even before that, on a KIT day or a call with your line manager) strike a 'power pose'. Research by social psychologist Amy Cuddy found spreading out your limbs - such as in the 'warrior' poses in yoga teaching - is correlated with increases in feelings of power. Try it, you might like it.
- Imagine you woke up feeling calm and competent on your first day back at work, what would be the first signs other people would notice? Given that, what actions could help you get to that state?
- What do you need to do to bring yourself up to date and be fit to practise? Which of these things could you do on a Keep In Touch day?
- Who makes you feel good about yourself? What role could that person play in helping you go back feeling good? When will you get in touch?
- What place does knowledge have in shaping your confidence? What are three actions you could take to deepen, refresh or expand your knowledge?
- Power poses - watch psychologist Amy Cuddy talk about her research
- Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work by Jessica Chivers (Hay House, 2011)
- Women in Law Scotland - a forum for networking, sharing ideas and best practice and Twitter @WomeninLawScot