How To Make Returning To Work After A Career Break A Little Easier

Whether your career break was planned or not, the thought of returning to the workforce after an extended time away can be daunting.

Whether your career break was planned or not, the thought of returning to the workforce after an extended time away can be daunting. While today, most recruiters and hiring managers will be understanding about time away from the office, others may feel it is a little risky to hire you.
And, with time away from the workforce, your skills, along with your CV and interview skills, may require a refresh.
Lacking confidence? No idea where to start? Here are some tips to help ease the transition back into employment (the paid type!) after a leave.
1. Look at your job wants & needs
Don’t jump straight into the job websites. Instead, take time to consider what you want and whether you want to go back to a role like the one you had before you left the workforce, or do you want to try something a bit different?
Consider what you’d like to get out of a job, and why (aside from money reasons) you’re interested in working again. Keep your needs in mind, too: whether it’s salary, flexible hours, location or anything else.
We would recommend that you talk to a life and career coach at this point – see our handpicked panel of coaches who Employmum work with and can recommend personally:
2. Re-familiarise yourself with your industry and network
If it’s been a few years since you worked, you’ll likely need to refamiliarise yourself with your industry and the jobs within in it.
3. Network
Reach out to former colleagues to let them know you’re returning to the workforce. Not only can you get potential job leads, but these contacts may also be able to update you on the latest industry outlook - the newest players, the new lingo, etc. Ask your connections for advice and tips on getting back into the workforce.
3. Freshen your skills
During your industry research, you may discover that there’s a whole new world of jargon. Freshen up your skills before you start applying - this will help you feel more confident as a candidate. Here are a few ideas:
  • Volunteer work - even if it’s unrelated to your field, volunteering on a regular basis can get you used to a structured environment, which employers like to see.
  • Classes: If there are new products or programs available that aren’t familiar to you, it might make sense to take a class. This could be an in-person course or an online tutorial. This will also be something current to add to your Skills Section in your CV.
  • Newsletters, events, podcasts: Some fields do not change quickly. It may just be that you need to remind yourself of how the industry works, whether that means attending events, or reading industry news, listening to podcasts, subscribing to newsletters, etc.
4. Practice job search skills

How long has it been since you last applied for a job? If it’s hard to remember, you probably need to update your CV (and maybe your LinkedIn profile, too.) As you update your CV, consider opting for a functional version rather than a chronological one - this may help de-emphasise the gap in your employment history or another option is to lead with a strong Selected Highlights section. Remember that all the best bits are on page one of your CV.

5. Explain your career break - but keep it brief
If you’ve had a long break, you’ll likely have to discuss it within your cover letter, as well as during interviews. No matter what your reason for your extended leave from the workforce, keep your explanation brief and ‘own the gap’.
Employmum run workshops regularly where we focus on the skills to get you back into the workforce – we cover ‘owning the gap’, interview techniques, networking skills, LinkedIn profiles, among other relevant practical tools – keep an eye out for these free workshops near you
Whatever your reason for being away, try to condense it down to something brief—and then bring the conversation back to the work you did prior to your time away. Your work experience remains relevant, even if some time has passed since you gained that experience.
The key to making sure you're a first-class applicant for the job you want is matching your skills with the ones requested in the job description, and these skills don't necessarily have to have been developed in a business environment.
The longer you've been away, the scarier it will probably be to start a new job, but it really doesn't take long to get back in the groove. Employmum can help!
Helen Walshe is Senior Recruitment Specialist & Change Manager with flexiblerecruitment agency, Employmum. Based in West Cork and a mother to Leah and Rory, Helen loves exploring the local woods and beaches with her family. Follow her on Facebook

Helen Walshe

Flexible Work Specialist at Employmum.

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