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Returning To Work After A Career Break

Career Gaps Are Not Uncommon

Have you been on a career break, and now you’re struggling to get back to work? Are you a mum who’s been on maternity leave, or have you been unemployed due to no fault of your own?  I can empathise with you because I have been there. I have been a mum who’s been on maternity leave and then struggled to get back to work. I have lost my job through no fault of my own due to my husband getting posted to another army base and had to start all over again. I have been out of work due to serious illness and then had to start again. I know what you’re going through. 

Career gaps are not uncommon, and I’ve just given you three reasons why I had career gaps, but returning to work can be challenging, and that’s exactly how I found it.  So, I want to share with you 5 tips that I believe will help you transition from where you currently are now into a new job, or new career, or new industry, whatever it is you want to do. 

Tip 1: Identify your job needs and wants

Take time to consider what you really want so that you can apply for the jobs that you want, not the jobs that you think you can just do. Make a list, reflect on your career break. What did you do during your break that you might be able to add to your resume? You could have volunteered, or took a class, or learned new skills. That can all go on your resume.

Tip 2. Freshen up on your industry and network

Research your industry. What has changed while you have been out of the industry? Reach out to your former colleagues and let them know that you’re returning to work. Set up casual informational interviews with companies that you’re interested in, especially if you’re changing industries. 

Tip 3:Update your skills

Is there new jargon or new programs that are now used in your chosen career? Also, freshen up on your cover letter writing skills so that you’d feel comfortable, and your interview skills, so that you feel more confident when you go for an interview. Maybe you want to volunteer to learn something new, like software that’s relevant to the career that you’re going for. You could also subscribe to industry newsletters or podcasts to get the latest news in your industry. 

Tip 4: Update your resume

There’s lots of things that you have done since your last job, so update your resume, practice your interview skills, go online and find vacancies in the industry and the roles, types of roles you are looking for and see what they want you to submit, and then practice creating those documents.

Tip 5: Explain your career break but keep it brief

In my case, I can add to my resume that, “I spent the last five years raising my children to an age when they started school and I’m now ready to get back into work”. Another one is, “I have spent the last six months looking after my seriously ill parents. I’m now no longer needed to do that, and I’m ready to return back to work”.

There are lots of things that you can say about your career break but keep it brief and keep it relevant. You could have been traveling. While you’re traveling, you could have been improving your networking skills, and your communication skills, and your knowledge, lots of different things. Whatever the reason, keep it brief.

If you would like to know more about the author Kathryn Burke, click here.

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