How to return to work after a career break



Taking a career break is something that most employees will do at least once in their lives. It gives workers a chance to change sectors, travel the world, care for family members or spend more time with their children.

The benefits really are endless but there is one particularly daunting downside, how do you return to work after a long period of absence?

Whether you’ve been out of work for 12 months or 12 years getting back in touch with your professional self is no easy feat. Here are just a few tips to make the transition easier.

Assess your situation

This is the perfect opportunity for you to reevaluate your goals. Do you want to return to the sector that you were in before? Does that kind of work make you happy?

It’s important that you do not just jump back into a career because it is the only one that you know. Take some time to think about your key skills and values. Perhaps it’s time to retrain or upskill. This is the perfect opportunity to seek out a new job or opportunity.

Be upfront

Don’t try to pretend that your career break didn’t happen. Hiring managers and recruiters will find a massive gap in your job history suspicious if you do not explain it. Always include a short description about why you took a career break but keep it brief. This will hopefully put their mind at ease. You should never apologise for taking a career break but do be prepared for follow up questions.

Get connected

If you’ve been out of work for a number of months or even years then you are going to need to spend some time getting up to date on industry news. Reach out to former colleagues to let them know that you’re returning to the workforce. Arrange informal coffee catch ups and phone calls. Not only will these people help you to get potential job leads, they may also be able to update you on the latest changes in the industry.

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Update your online presence

During your career break, you may have let things like your Jobbio profile or LinkedIn account become stale. Refresh all your pages with updated information and interests. Did you spend any time volunteering during your career break? Did you pick up any new skills or undertake a hobby? Don’t neglect these little tidbits of information, they are all part of your personal brand.

Check out career returner programmes

When you’re searching for your next role don’t neglect the various career returner programmes that are available. These programmes are designed to help employees who have taken an extended career break for any reason.

For example, Deloitte offers a fantastic return to work programme that lasts for 20 weeks. During this time men and women will receive tailored support and experience to help them to readjust to the working world.

Prepare for interviews

You should spend some time practicing your interview skills as they have probably become rather rusty. Start with the basics. Remember things like body language, a firm handshake, good manners and an appropriate outfit can all impress a potential employer.

Next, get down to the nitty-gritty. Prepare the usual broad interview questions about your strengths, weaknesses and achievements first. Then work on more specific questions to do with the role you are applying for and your past experience. Pay close attention to the job spec as it will probably contain lots of clues about the type of candidate that they are looking for.

Remember that everyone has their own career path

As the old saying goes, ‘’Comparison is the thief of joy.’’ It might be disheartening to see an old work colleague get promoted or a past team mate starting their own business but remember that we are all on our own career paths. Your career break will have taught you many valuable life lessons, even if you don’t realise it yet.

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