RETURNING BACK TO WORK AFTER CAREER BREAK
- JWB Post
- January 28, 2014
Taking a career break most certainly doesn’t mean professional suicide. However, all situations require slightly adapted job search tactics, so take a look below to see how to make your return to the market a successful one.
It’s likely you’ve made the decision to return either because you’re run out of money or you’re finished your soul searching and are now ready to dive head first into your career. It’s up to you to show potential employers that you’re now ready to commit to a job as initially they may be thinking you’re likely to disappear again a few months into the role. This is pretty easy to get across in a CV – you’ll need to make it very clear in your opening statement that your intention is to find a job in which you can grow and that your time off has confirmed that this is the direction you want your career to take. If your voluntary time off was to undertake a new qualification this should go a long way to persuading an employer you have a thirst for knowledge and will be of value to their company. If there’s no obvious connection, be sure to point out how the course you took will help you succeed in the role you’re applying for.
As with anything you do that wasn’t your decision, there’s a good chance that you’ll be feeling pretty unenthusiastic about the time you had off. Try and look at the positives as there’s nothing worse for recruiters that reading a CV that comes across as negative or apologetic – they’re looking to hire people with the energy to drive their business forward, not dwell on past problems or difficulties. Explain how you overcame whatever situation caused you to take time off. Did you find an added inner strength that you never knew existed? Did you use your time off to learn a new skill that will be of benefit to the job?
If redundancy or a sacking was the reason you were out of work, be straight (but not over-descriptive) with the reasons. It’s very easy for any lies to be uncovered when your references are checked and you could find yourself being unemployed for much longer than originally expected if you’re found out.
Returning after maternity
Whether you’ve just had your first child, have a couple of young children at primary school, or have older children that have flown the nest, you’re personal situation is unique – as are your reasons for wanting to get back to work. One thing many women returners often have to overcome is a lack of confidence, which is surprising considering childbirth and looking after young children are two of the hardest tasks anyone will ever have to undertake. The key to making sure you’re a first class applicant for the jobs 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. Communication, time management, negotiation and organization are all vital attributes in the workplace and you will have had no better practice than when you were bringing up a child.
These, and other transferable skills, mean there’s no reason why you can’t have the job you want, and the fact you may have to fit your working hours around your child shouldn’t deter you. Many companies make allowances for parents with flexible hours, subsidized nurseries and job shares just some of the many ways they try to make your work:life balance easier.
So to sum up, here are few points you should take into consideration.
Whatever the reason – family, health or education-an applicant who has taken a career break makes recruiters apprehensive even if one manages to convince them about their ability. So, one must be prepared to explain the reasons for the break. Also, one must be ready to face questions such as – What if the problem resurfaces? Why do you want to join work now? What did you do during the break?
ANALYSE YOUR INTERESTS
Before the HR manager puts this question to you, ask yourself: Why do I want to work again?
Much would have changed since you left. At this stage, analyze what you are capable of handling. This is crucial if you had quit due to personal responsibilities. Also, assess your current interests. It is not necessary to return to the old role. You can use this stage to make a career shift.
KEEP UP TO DATE
Employers want people who are abreast of the latest trends related to work. Therefore, stay updated during the break. The traditional ways to brush up skills and knowledge, books, magazines and courses help. However, staying in the field through freelance work is best.
Keep in touch with old colleagues and employers. Networking will help you search for an appropriate opening or get good references that can increase your chances of getting selected in a job interview. Keep in touch with old colleagues and employers. Networking will help you search for an appropriate opening or get good references that can increase your chances of getting selected in a job interview.
REDRAFT THE RESUME
A gap does not show well. But trying to cover it up makes it worse. So, explain the reasons clearly, either in the covering letter or a line in the resume. Be clear in your communication. Most important, convey your sincerity and eagerness to take on the new assignment. Recruiters often check your digital footprint. Align your profile on social and professional networks with your resume. If you do not have an account on these networks, make one. It will give you the option of explaining things in detail, which might not be possible in a two-page resume.
You are at a disadvantage at this stage and, so, being flexible will help. Salary, for one, should not be a big deciding factor. This also doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be treated as cheap labour. The compensation should be in keeping with your experience and industry standards. It is often easier to make a comeback in emerging high-growth sectors or smaller firms. Emphasis should be on job profile and prospects and not on the size of the organization. Also, it is easier to get into roles that focus on individual skills and competence and not so much on ability to manage teams and organizational structures.
And if you are a woman who is about to take your career break, the following tips will increase your employability once you will decide to be back.
Five tips for making the most out of a career break
- Plan for this time off financially and consider how an alternate career could support you and your family.
- Use the time for thinking: find inspiration in take a holiday or just being with yourself. If you’re a busy mum, consider doing your thinking when you’re out and about taking the baby for a walk or when your partner is looking after the children.
- Buy a journal and take note of your thoughts, dreams and desires – what do you daydream about doing? Could this translate into a project or new business?
- Determine you key strengths and consider how these could be channeled into a new career or business.
- Up-skill in a different area by doing an online course or getting some work experience in a new field without a long-term commitment.
SHARE IN COMMENTS HOW YOU DEAL WITH CAREER BREAK.