Whether you’ve taken time off from your career to begin a family, been out of the workplace following a redundancy, or taken a break to travel the world, there is no reason why you can’t jump right back into the job market as soon as you’re ready to. Going back to work after a significant break can be very daunting. You may feel anxious about starting a new job or worry that your skills are not up to scratch because a lot has changed since you’ve been away from the workplace.
Taking a career break is something that most people will do at least once in their lifetime. So while you may feel like you are alone, more people than you think have probably taken time off work at some point in time. According to research, approximately 4% of workers have taken time off work for 6 months or more. It was also found that 73% of women have taken a break from the workplace for “family reasons,” while 47% of men have taken a career gap for “personal reasons.”
There are various different reasons for taking a break from your career, but generally they fall under the category of being voluntary. Whether you’ve been out of the job market for 12 months or 12 years, getting back in the game is no easy feat. But, by following a few simple tips, you can make the process a whole lot easier.
Assess your career needs and wants
It’s no good just diving into searching for any job that you can come across on the internet. It’s essential to take a bit of time to consider what you want; what kind of job will be fulfilling and worthwhile? Do you want to follow the career path that you were on before your break or do you want to try something new?
Take time to identify the skills and experience that you have acquired over the years. How can this help you in your new endeavours. It’s also important to think about why you want to go back to work (aside from financial reasons). Also keep your needs in mind; whether it’s flexible hours, salary requirements, or anything else that you may need.
A lot of people make the mistake of jumping straight back to the first job that they find. But first and foremost it’s important to determine what you need and want from your career.
Be honest about your career gap
Ignoring the fact that you have been out of the work environment for a while won’t help you. Be honest with employers and tell them why you took a career break. You’re not the only person returning to the workplace after a career gap, and worthy employers will understand your reasoning. You just need to communicate that it’s irrelevant to your job seeking process.
For instance, highlight your strengths and previous experience to show employers that you are the perfect fit for the job. Be ready to respond to questions, and be open and honest about your career gap. But, be sure to paint it in a positive light - like feeling grateful for having time to spend with your children, or maybe you did some volunteer work during your break.
Networking is very important for anyone and everyone in the job market - whether you’ve taken a career break or not. As the saying goes: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Take advantage of your existing connections. Contact old employers. You never know, perhaps they have a new position open that interests you.
Speak to old colleagues, family members, friends, and acquaintances. Let them know that you are looking for a job. You never know, perhaps there’s a job opening at a company they work for or they may know of companies that are hiring people with your skills.
Refresh your skills
During your job search you may discover that there’s a whole new world of jargon. Completing an industry specific course and obtaining a new certification can go a long way in helping you to secure a new job after a career break. It’s shows employers that you are serious and willing to learn.
For instance, if you had a job role in digital marketing prior to your break, you may need to learn a few new skills before returning to the workforce. There’s a good chance that technologies and processes have changed, so earning a certificate can get you up to speed again.
Seek out employers who value job returners
You should never have to apologise for taking a career break. Remember that employees returning to the workplace add value by bringing fresh thinking and a mature perspective. You deserve to be in a job just as much as anyone else and are equal to your colleagues. Don’t bother approaching employers who seem to think that hiring workplace returners is a favor.