There can be many reasons to take a break from work—while some may choose to take time off to re-evaluate their goals or get rest from their hectic schedules, a majority, especially women, decide to quit the workforce when they get pregnant, have to raise children, or take care of an ailing parent or in-laws.
Many wish to re-enter later but find the prospect of going back to the world of data sheets and tax returns too daunting.
While a career gap might raise a few awkward questions during job interviews, there are specific ways to deal with the issue head-on and make sure you return to work in a planned manner. Here are seven career guidance tips to help you restart your career after a break.
Assess your abilities
It is crucial to have a clear mindset about what kind of work you want to be involved in and whether you possess the relevant skills. Loss of confidence is one of the major problems women returning to work after an extended career break face. Make sure you feel positive about yourself and what you bring to the job. Take time to ponder upon your signature skills, what you’ve always been known to do very well, and specific examples of how they have made you effective in your experience.
Research the job market
Take some time and look up the latest industry news, market trends, and developments in your field. It is also important to be clear on your available time, salary requirements, and preferred working hours when you decide to restart your career. What jobs are you up for? Do you want to go back to what you were doing before, or do you want to try something different? Do you want to go for a regular 9-to-5 job, or do you prefer flexible hours?
Get your job-hunting tools ready
This includes updating your CV and profile on job portals like LinkedIn. List all the new skills you might have acquired during your break, and explain how these can relate to the work you’re now applying for.
Start networking again
A robust support system of professional contacts and colleagues can help ease your way back to the post you left behind. Get in touch with ex-colleagues, bosses, and friends to ask about industry insights and job referrals. Casual meetings, conferences, or even joining a LinkedIn group can help you broaden your network.
Prepare for interviews
You should be able to present your skills before the interviewer positively and confidently. Plan how you can explain the gap in your career but make sure you don’t resort to blatant lies. The trick here is to keep the explanation simple and bring the conversation back to the work you did before taking the break. You could also talk about relevant experience or skills you gained while on your sabbatical. Industries can change a lot in just a few months, let alone many years. You don’t want to come across as lagging behind the times, so do your homework to make sure you’re up to speed on matters relating to your field.
Update your wardrobe
As much as it’s true that your appearance should not matter to your employer, how you present yourself does. Invest in a few well-fitting formal outfits and make sure you look clean and professional when you go for your interview. At the very least, it’ll boost up your confidence and show you’re willing to put in the effort for the job.
Re-skill with certifications
If you previously worked in a rapidly changing field, there is a good chance technologies and best practices have changed, and you will need to improve your skills before re-entering the workplace. Enrolling in online courses or earning a certification can get you up to speed again and demonstrate to an employer that you are proactive about staying current with the industry.
To support women resuming work after a career break, MG (Morris Garages) Motor India has announced ‘Drive Her Back,’ a career restart programme in India that enables qualified and experienced women to return to the workplace with dignity and pride. Once selected, you will be trained to help regain corporate vigour and strike a work-life balance. There will also be assigned mentors to help adapt to the corporate environment and access networking opportunities and professional development.
After a career break, the search can be challenging for those returning to work. By approaching your reboot with these seven tips or joining a program like the Drive Her Back, you can prepare yourself better and be back to work in no time.