Regardless of whether your career break was a voluntary or unplanned, getting back into the workforce can be challenging.
Some recruiters and hiring managers are understanding of potential employees taking time away from the traditional nine-to-five grind. However, some might feel a certain hesitation about onboarding you. Not to mention, everything from your interview skills and resume needs an update. Job hunting is a daunting task as is, and the pressure of explaining your career break can be overwhelming.
Let’s go over a few strategies that you can adopt to ensure a successful transition back to employment.
Assess your professional requirements
Don’t dive straight into posting your CV on job search websites, and reaching out to recruiters on Linkedin. It’s important that you spend some time deciding what you exactly want in your career.
For example, consider the following questions—What type of job feels fulfilling and rewarding to you? Do you want to try something new? Or do you want to pursue a role similar to the one you had before taking a break? In what ways do you want this job to further your career? Why (apart from monetary reasons) are you looking forward to working again?
Remember to prioritize your professional and personal needs in mind—whether it’s work-life balance, salary requirements, or anything else.
To make things easier, make a quick list of the all the “must-haves” that you expect from your next job. This also gives you the opportunity to reflect on your career break. Then identify any noteworthy skills or accomplishments that might be resume-worthy.
Overall, keep an open mind. After all, what’s right for you now won’t necessarily match up with what was right for you before your sabbatical.
Get re-acquainted with your industry and network
If it’s been a hot minute since you stepped into an office, you’ll need to familiarize with any or all changes that the industry has undergone in your absence and the job opportunities that have come up as a result. For example, if you’ve got a background in software development, it doesn’t hurt to know which technologies are the most in-demand.
Here are a few pointers to help you:
Use Glassdoor to begin your research
Learn more about companies successfully operating in your industry. Also, don’t forget to take a look at the salary range for your preferred roles.
Reach out to your former coworkers in order to let them know about your return to get potential job leads. And also take a general update on the industry trends—the new jargon, the big players, etc.
Show up at meet-ups, conferences & other networking events, so you can make meaningful connections and get with the times. You might get some good references from the people you meet for your next job opportunity. If you’re not a social butterfly, join similar groups or forums on social media platforms to expand your network and get back into the groove.
Freshen up your skills
While carrying out industry research, you’ll come face-to-face with a whole new world of jargon, trends, technologies, and tools that you didn’t know about it. Or maybe you did, but things have changed drastically since then while you were on your career break. Therefore, it’s crucial to work on your skill-set before you start reaching out to prospective employers, and dropping in your CV.
Here are a few useful ideas to get you started:
People who volunteer periodically are more likely to get accustomed to a structured work environment. Not just that, they develop interpersonal skills that are crucial to long-term success. Your volunteering experience doesn’t need to be related to your role. You just need to showcase to the interviewers how exactly the experience has helped you evolve into a better employee.
If you’re unfamiliar with a lot of new-age tools and technologies, investing in an online course or attending in-person classes can be helpful. In the end, this will help you keep up with new and existing industry concepts. Also, you might come out having mastered a new skill that’d make for a great addition to your resume.
Subscribe to relevant newsletters, podcasts, and magazines that can fill your information void. Get the know-how of how the industry works, and what specific set of skills you must possess to start afresh.
Disclose only what’s required
If you’ve taken a long break (a couple of months or years), you’d be expected to talk about it in your cover letter, and during interviews. No matter what your reason is, try to keep your explanation short, and to-the-point before moving on to the more important things.
Using one or two sentences should do the trick will do. For example, “I’ve spent the last few months caring for a sick relative, but I’m ready to get back into the workforce”. Or “At the time, I considered it important to be at home with my child, but I’m looking forward to getting professionally handsy again now that they’re grown”.
Remember, your work experience and professional achievements from before the break are still relevant, even though time has gone. So, don’t dwell too much on what you’ve lost in the time you’ve been away. You’d find it so much easier to convince the prospective employer of the same.
Almost 84% of the millennials look forward to taking career breaks that are longer than four weeks, so you’re not alone. You might feel anxious about getting back into the market. You may even think your skills are a bit rough on the edges. But don’t let self-doubt cloud your decision to jump onto the career ladder.
The workforce awaits!