If you’re looking for work, the first thing to understand is that the jobs market, like most markets, is competitive. This particular market is where employers are competing for the best talent and people are competing for the best jobs. As in any market, to win, you need to play to your strengths, you need to have a strategy and you need to deploy some tactics that will help you succeed.

You’re a mum? Join the club. Over 80% of women of working age have children. This does not differentiate you. So what’s the alternative? What tactics will help you get back to work?

#BrandYou . Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder put it best :

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”

You are your own number one brand. You need a short, punchy tag line that tells the world about you, your unique value and why someone should hire you. It needs to be short and memorable enough for someone else to use it to help connect you with people who could help you get a meeting, an opening and ultimately a job.

Hustle Honey. Work doesn’t come out of a box. You are five times more likely to find work through your network than through a recruiter. Recruiters don’t enjoy dealing with CVs that have career breaks or people who need a bit of flexibility. That’s probably you. No matter. Beat them at their own game. Use your networks, put yourself out there. Talk to people, think about how you can help them. Don’t be shy about asking for help – most people will be flattered.

But don’t be random. It’s a job getting a job. Welcome to your first job. You are a recruiter. You have one candidate: you. Roll your sleeves up because this is going to bumpy. It’s tough out there – so get ready for the ride. You’re going to need skill and tenacity. Figure out who is hiring people for the sort of role you want. Follow them, look for connections, make introductions. Have a plan and track your progress so on you don’t let emotions throw you. You’ve got this, because listen up – no one cares about your career as much as you do.

Forget the F word for now. Flexibility. Yes, we know how much it means to you, how much you need and want it. We too follow all the brilliant bloggers and insta influencers who are flying the flag for Flex. But here’s the thing – less than one in 10 quality jobs is advertised as flexible. Yes. 1 in 10. Don’t limit your options by only applying for those jobs. Be prepared to get in there, got for the full time ones and negotiate like crazy

Know your value

“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”

Wise words from the goddess that is Jennifer Lawrence. . So what can we learn? Women don’t negotiate enough. We’d much rather be seen as nice than being tough. Beef up your negotiation muscle. Do your homework, find out the going rate and haggle hard for your worth.

Baroness Karren Brady was recently interviewed about the gender pay gap on the BBC programme Loose Women. Her view:

“..women have this fear factor, where they don’t have the confidence to ask .. they are sort of grateful for the job and don’t want to rock the boat. We need to get more women rocking the boat.”

Get Digital. All that scrolling you do every day, those multiple channels you’re handling at any one time, the searching, sharing, tagging, liking has given you an absolute, up to date, on the money skill set. A combination of this self taught knowledge topped up with some readily available, often free, training will accelerate your employability.

According to Tech City UK the digital economy is growing 50% faster than the rest of the economy accounting for 1.64 million jobs in the UK. Which means every business is a digital business and needs digital skills. Women are FANTASTIC at communication, sharing, supporting, trend spotting and collaborating. Everything we read says that these are EXACTLY the skills that modern organisations are looking for.

Brace yourself. If you’re sitting at home staring at the most gorgeous baby in the world – yours – we have some chilling words. No-one cares about your children as much as you. So when you’re talking to employers about work, talk about what you can do and your ambitions. No-one needs to hear about your complicated school run arrangements. Have your childcare sorted and work out contingency plans. Be able to answer the “Could you start on Monday?” question with an enthusiastic “Love to”.

Our book She’s Back: Your Guide to Returning to Work has lots more detail on the steps you can take to position yourself to win. And at £6.40, with 30 5 start reviews, it could be the best investment you make in your future.