Much like returning to work after a holiday, taking a career break and heading back into the workplace is never easy – especially if you have to find a new job. Whatever your reason for taking a break away from your career, whether it has been a year or more than a decade, it can often feel difficult to jump back into your professional career where you left off and ‘get back into it’.
Often, when trying to find a new job after being away from the desk for a long period of time, it isn’t uncommon to apply to a mass of jobs that are suitable, flexible, local and have a worthwhile pay-packet. However, when the news you hear back is anything but “You’ve got the job!”, your (already) fragile self-confidence is set to decline rapidly even further.
As a result, here are three top tips to aid the transition back into the workplace, to ensure job success!
- Boost your self-belief before you do anything
Returning to an industry can be tough. When updating your CV, it isn’t unusual to begin comparing yourself to others with more experience, often making you second-guess your own skills and strengths. So, it is important to be clear on your strengths and skills to increase your confidence and stand in good stead against the many other candidates applying for jobs.
One way of doing this is sitting down with a friend or family member and going through what you are good at. Write down at least 5 achievements and the skills you have demonstrated to achieve these successes in your career – examples are highly valuable and show potential employers how you work.
In addition, it is worth updating your skills and knowledge of the industry by taking part in courses (such as Prince 2 training or more specific refresher courses), reading about the current industry news in the news or through social media channels, such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
- Networking is key
It’s so easy to neglect relationships with your work colleagues when taking a break in your career for a variety of reasons. Let’s face it, sometimes life simply gets in the way. Thus, before you start to meet people in your industry and begin to start the all-important process of networking, it is certainly worth spending time to create the perfect LinkedIn profile and re-connecting with some of your former colleagues.
Once you begin networking, it is helpful to reflect on your career to date, to have a clear, confident answer when you are quizzed by other professionals about your working life, or even for a job interview. Be prepared to outline your work experience and qualifications in the industry before your break, as well as giving a brief explanation of your break (without needing to justify or make apologies – people understand). It is worth also mentioning any relevant study or voluntary work you may have completed whilst taking your career break, and where you are now; what do you want to do now that you plan to return to work?
- Consider a work placement or ‘returnship’
Everyone knows that experience is key, and the more evidence you have of it on your CV, the better. To avoid drawing attention to the gap in your CV, it is important to be creative and clever, and where possible, as for some help.
Whether this be through getting in touch with contacts from the industry, proposing a short ‘work placement’ or ‘returnships’, freelance or temporary work, it can really help to fill the gap in your CV, which naturally helps to build your network and professional confidence. It may even result in a full-time job.