Reconnecting After A Career BreakMay 23, 2023
There are many reasons why you may take a career break, most commonly career breaks are for family reasons, maternity leave or caring for ageing parents. Career breaks can also be literally just that, you want and need time away from your career to press reset or explore other interests.
After a career break you may feel anxious about reentering the workplace, whether with your previous organisation or a new one. Rest assured there are simple steps you can take to bridge the gap when you’re ready to reenter.
Firstly, recognise the experiences and knowledge that you have, and how useful these are to your organisation and your industry. Often people experience a dip in self confidence when they’re ready to reenter after a career break. Start by reminding yourself how good you really are before taking any action - you were successful in your career, recognise the achievements you made before your break.
The perfect CV is often a barrier to applying for roles after a career break so don’t waste your time and energy aiming for perfection. A good CV and application will make it clear where and how your experience is relevant, ensure you are addressing this and don’t worry about how perfect it is. Be authentic to yourself, your experience and your attributes. Include the valuable life skills you developed during your career break and how these will support you to add value to the role you’re interested in.
On that note, ensure your application is authentic by honouring your career break. Don’t try and hide the fact you’ve been out of your career for a period of time, state the reasons for your break and include the activities you were engaged in during your break.
Many parents who take time off for maternity leave or parental leave, serve on school boards and volunteer on committees, this is to be celebrated and not hidden. Highlight the activities you’ve engaged in and the skills and attributes that you developed. Don’t sell yourself short, you’ve been using important skills during your career break, whether it was in running the household budget, keeping the family organised or managing your son's soccer team. Don’t be apologetic. Don’t be embarrassed. And don’t discount the value of your career break. If you were taking care of young children or ageing parents, that is admirable.
Start rebuilding your network. If you’ve been busy focusing elsewhere during your career break, start reconnecting with your professional network. Start following them on LinkedIn and set up coffee dates, let people know that you’re ready to reenter after your career break and be clear about what opportunities you’re looking for.
When you’ve found something you want to apply for, research the company you’re applying to. Ensure their values and culture align to your own. Additionally, each time you apply for a job, tweak your resume so it is tailored to the specific role, and use keywords from the posting. When you get to the interview stage, research the interviewer and look for shared commonalities or connections that you can bring into the conversation.
A lot can change in an industry in just a few months, let alone years depending how long your break has been. You don’t want to come across as behind the times during your interviews, so do your homework to make sure you’re up to speed on your industry.
The workplace may have changed during your career break, but that shouldn't be a barrier to you reentering. Focus on the skills and experiences that you have and ensure you sell yourself when you’re talking with people about what opportunities you’re looking for and applying for roles.
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