Planning to Return to Work after a Long Break? Some Effective Tips to help you Bounce Back
Whether you’ve taken a break for family reasons, were forced to take time out due to redundancy or to simply to unwind, travel the world and rediscover yourself, you’re not alone. According to a report in the news site of Australian HR Institute, 64% female and 29% male workers in Australia and New Zealand have taken a career break at some point.
Whatever your reasons might have been, returning to work after a long gap can be both daunting as well as exciting. Anxiety, jitters and the fact that a lot would have changed while you’ve been away can unnerve you. As a result, they often make the mistake of undervaluing their skills and prior work credentials. If that sounds like you, here are some tips that might help:
Whether you’re pressured to return to work for financial reasons or you seriously wish to re-launch your career, take your time. A lot of people make the mistake of jumping straight back into the professional world by applying to the first job they can find. That’s because you’re not sure about your job and most likely haven’t done much research about how skills fit the current job market. This indecisiveness will likely reflect in your interview performance and the employer will sense the insecurity. As a result, they will either not take you in or even if you do manage to land the job, you’ll likely be paid significantly less than what you deserve.
Therefore, it is important to first assess your situation before you begin to actively look for a job. What is the current situation? What about your family responsibilities? Are you prepared to get into a full-time job or you’d need a flexible/part-time options so you can better manage your personal responsibilities as well? What your skills, do they need upgrading according to the current industry trends? What are your expectations from the job? Once you have answers to these, do a bit of research on the positions available that are in line with your skills and prior work experience. Go through the job requirements. Speak to the people in the industry or preferably from the same line of work. Consider career change as well. Take your time and do your research and begin applying once you’re sure about the kind of job you are looking for.
Update you CV
Lot of candidates see career breaks as a dark spot, something that will ruin their career. Instead of seeing it as a handicap look at it as something positive. Emphasize on transferable skills. If you have done some volunteer, freelance work, don’t forget to mention it in the resume. Even if you’ve had to take a break for maternity reasons, parenting can teach you a number of valuable skills that people tend to ignore. Bringing up children offers valuable life lessons like time management, multi-tasking, patience, conflict management, problem-solving, empathy, mentoring etc. that have a lot of relevance in the corporate world.
Assess your Skills and Qualification
If you’ve been away from the workforce for quite some time, you would probably need to brush up on your skills. The best way to go about this is to assess your own skills and qualifications against those required by the most sought-after positions or organizations. Identify your skills, upgrade your registrations and certifications if needed. You might need further training or take on some additional courses to be at par with the industry. Don’t shy away from it. It will increase your employability and add value to your CV.
A lot of people ignore or shy away from talking to people about jobs but it is important. It can actually help you land the right job. A lot of people don’t know it but nearly 60-70% of jobs are not advertised. Reach out to your colleagues from previous organizations, seniors and friends who are working. They might be able to provide you some information about hidden vacancies in the organization. Who knows, they might even refer you! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is nothing wrong in it.
Look for Part-time or Temporary positions
If you have been away from the workforce for quite some time say two years or more, it might just make sense for you to start with some part-time or temporary position just to ease in. These positions will not just help you get used to the routine and the work life but also add to the work experience. Such positions are easier to grab. You can search for such positions on social media sites, with the help of specialist recruiters or placement agencies. You can even get in touch with organizations directly and enquire as some organizations do not advertise about such vacancies.
Prepare for Questions that the Resume does not answer
A resume is a very important document in a candidate’s job application as it briefs the employer about the candidate’s skills, knowledge and experience. Make sure your resume is written simply with appropriate formatting. It should talk about your achievements and tell the entire story in just few words. However, a resume does not answer all the questions that the employer might have. Your resume will show a career gap but does not explain the reason or justify it. Be prepared to explain it during the interview or during initial screening. There is no reason to apologize for it or feel ashamed about it. Instead focus on the positive. Explain your reason for taking a break and talk about what you learnt. Talk about new skills learnt or some volunteer work that you took up and how that helped you evolve as a person. Remember, all the employer needs to know is that you simply did not waste your time.
Join Relevant Industry Associations and Attend Seminars and Conferences
Find out about the relevant industry bodies and associations and become a member. Keep a tab on the various talks and conferences being organized and attend wherever possible. It is the best way to expand your network and meet relevant people. Who knows you might get to meet some important person who can refer you for your dream job!
It can take time to re-enter the job market especially if you looking to return to a comparable position at which you left. It may not be easy but you have to keep at it. A lot depends on the duration of the break, your experience, qualification, expertise, network and your current industry knowledge. Attend interviews but don’t just be ready to grab the first offer. Seek professional help if needed and be prepared for rejection. Remember, all good things take time.