Derval O'Rourke: How to make a smooth return to the workforce

The past two years have brought a lot of change and many people are moving jobs, looking to re-enter the world of work or simply feeling a bit lost.
Derval O'Rourke: How to make a smooth return to the workforce

Ciara Garvan

This week's column I’m mixing it up a little and chatting about work. Work is such a huge part of our lives and contributes to our wellbeing. The past two years have brought a lot of change and many people are moving jobs, looking to re-enter the world of work or simply feeling a bit lost.

I’ve spent time with Ciara Garvan of and really admire what she does in the world of work. This week Ciara has got some great tips for you on getting back into the workforce after a break or for anyone looking to make a change. Ciara has also kindly shared with you all an amazing brown bread recipe!
If you are looking to return to work, these tips are the perfect starting point to restart your career:

1. Start With Your Why: Mindset is everything and understanding why you want to kickstart your career or make a change is so important. Think about why now and why is getting your career back on track so important to you?

2. Own your Gap: Most people have taken time out or will have some sort of gap in their working history. This can be anything from a gap year in Australia to being at home for a few years with small children. The pandemic has really shone a light on caring responsibilities and how all-consuming they can be. If you have taken time out it is nothing to apologise for! Own your gap! And if you have been at home raising children, feel free to give yourself a degree in conflict management!

3. Value your experience and skills: Reflect on previous roles even if they were many years ago. Reach out to old colleagues and talk through what you worked on previously. We all have things which we are naturally great at - what is yours?

4. Create a stand-out CV: Writing a CV is a task we all dread but a necessary one. Just grin and bear it. Keep it clear and concise and focus on your deliverables and outcomes. Metrics are important here. Always include a strong personal profile or bio written in the third person.

5. Be visible on LinkedIn: Using LinkedIn can be a vital part of building a professional career. It is just as important as having a strong CV. LinkedIn allows you to

- Gain exposure to hiring managers and recruiters.

- Is a great place to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

- You can gain social proof of your skills and talents by seeking recommendations and giving endorsements.

6. Research companies/ Sectors you are interested in: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”, Confucius. Think about what causes you care deeply about or how big is the company? Is a young start up or a larger multinational going to be the right fit for you?

7. Identify your learning and development needs: Follow your interests. Information in an adult learning environment is far more likely to stick when the learner finds it both significant and relevant. When learning needs are self-directed there is a greater chance you will learn quicker and integrate the teachings then if the learning was imposed upon you.

There are fantastic government funded programmes from Springboard and Digital Skillnet. These are often completely free and lead to excellent qualifications. Before you spend money on a course be sure to check these out first!

Wellness Tip: Whether you are planning on going back to work or not. Whether you love the job you are in or are thinking of a move, you should always have your C.V. updated and ready to go. Don’t wait until you need to use it. Sit down this week and review your C.V. Give it a good polish and update any experience you have.

Exercise Tip: Fitness Tests are a great way to measure your progress. Take three exercises – 1. Jumping Jacks, 2. Push Ups, 3. Squats – Set a timer for 30 seconds. Do as many of each exercise for 30 seconds per exercise. Note the numbers. Repeat every second day for two weeks and each time, try to do one more than you did before. When you feel you have improved, extend the time to 60 seconds per exercise.

Vera’s Brown Bread

recipe by:Derval O'Rourke

This is my mother in law’s recipe and practically foolproof. That said, hers always tastes better than mine so there may be a secret ingredient that hasn’t yet been shared!

Vera’s Brown Bread



Preparation Time

5 mins

Cooking Time

35 mins

Total Time

40 mins




  • 1 lb Brown Flour (I use Howards Extra Course)
  • 1 pint of Buttermilk

  • 2 ozs. butter or margarine

  • Good Handful of Bran

  • Good Handful of Oats

  • Sprinkle of milled Flaxseed

  • 2 level teaspoons of Bread Soda

  • Poppy or Chia seeds to sprinkle on top


  1. Place all dry ingredients in the bowl (apart from the chia or poppy seeds, they are for
  2. sprinkling over at the end!)

  3. Mix in the butter. (This is easier if the butter is nice and soft)

  4. Mix in the buttermilk which should give it a porridge-like consistency.

  5. Divide between two 1 lb bowls which have been well greased.

  6. Sprinkle chia or poppy seeds on top.

  7. Bake for about ¾ of an hour at gas 5 or 6.

  8. Cool on a wire tray and wrap in a tea towel for the first 5-10 mins to keep in the moisture.

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