A career break is taken for several different reasons, but naturally, it’s just that – a break from your professional life, to attend to changes in your personal life. Returning to work after that can often be challenging, especially if there’s guilt or self-doubt in your mind.
The best time to make a comeback is right now. Companies are redefining their budget plans and new positions are being identified. Performance appraisals have happened and recruiters are back-filling positions and identifying new roles they require people for. You need to be ready to take full advantage of this period. Yes, the market is extremely competitive and the economy’s not too great. But companies still need good talent, and you would want to be the one getting the attention. The question is – how?
Assess your current situation
First and foremost, stop feeling sorry for the gap and accept it in your own mind. Carry out some self-analysis. In other words, take a while to assess your current situation and come up with a course of action.
Leverage your network
Spread the word that you’re on the lookout for a job by getting in touch with your network. Two to three months before you intend to return to work, start tapping into the market. Talk to friends, family members, former co-workers, and so on, about potential opportunities they may know of. Attend corporate events – network, network, and network! Chances are at least one of the people you meet will know about a vacancy and could refer you to a job.
Do a skills audit within the industry
Recognize that the technology you mastered years ago may no longer be relevant today. Make sure you have sound evidence of how you’ve utilized your break time to stay connected to the industry, whether through a course, certification, or anything else.
Seek professional advice on your transition
Get yourself a coach to assist you identify that ‘one thing’ that may be missing from the 100 other things you may already be doing. They will help you accelerate your journey to success.
For a successful post-break launch, there are also some common mistakes that you must avoid:
1. Don’t underestimate yourself
If you find yourself worrying that you’re not as capable as before, make a list of everything you’ve done and achieved thus far in your life. You’ll be surprised at just how accomplished you actually are! Don’t forget the ‘work’ you’ve been doing while on the break. Many of the skills you have had to acquire are equally valuable in the workplace. These include negotiating, communicating, and organizing.
Gautam Shetty of Regional Head Talent Acquisition APAC at Maersk noted that often women are okay to compromise on compensation and go down a few notches from where they left off.
I don’t think that’s something they should compromise on. They should learn their worth and be aggressive in their negotiation skills, especially when it comes to compensation as well as the level they want to enter the industry back in.
2. Don’t stop personal development
A career break is an excellent opportunity to introspect, research, thoroughly think through your work expertise, and also the various jobs that you have held. Focus on identifying your traits, habits, and preferences and map them to the job roles and the companies you are applying to.
3. Don’t waste the chance to do something different
The ability to try out different roles comes from a flexible mindset. Think of this as an ideal chance to escape a career you don’t love. Instead, attempt something completely different. Or, you may want to remain in your current business however simply tweak your role. Whatever changes you wish to form, use all of your resources to make it happen.
4. Don’t be hasty
Look for opportunities to gain work experience or volunteer in the area you want to get into. And if you decide that you need more education for your next step, take the time to research any potential courses thoroughly. And once you’re ready to enter the job market, make sure all aspects of your profile are prepared to be scrutinized.
5. Don’t wait to be found
Now is not the time to be passive! In order to form a career change, you need to get out there and begin dynamical things for yourself. As Milton Berle once said ‘If chances don’t knock, build a door.’
6. Leverage career return programs
Speaking to Talent500, Monica Jamwal, Sr. Director Talent Acquisition at ANSR emphasised that organizations today are hiring women with long career breaks into internship opportunities to help them get acclimatized with both business context and the work context within the organizations. They eventually are onboarded full time within the same organizations. People looking to restart after a break should be open to such opportunities too because it is an enabler towards coming back into the workforce and not necessarily to differentiate one from the others.
In terms of great opportunities working out, if it is not at the level you left work at, it’s important to have an open mind as not everybody has the same growth path. Not everybody has the same trajectory as far as progression is concerned. So some of the important factors to consider are the quality of work, the culture, and how you see yourself growing. If it is something that can help you learn more upskill and make your second stint stronger, you should consider it irrespective of what level the opportunity might be.
7. Don’t quit
You may not walk into your dream job in the first week or even month of searching for jobs after a career break. Indeed, a typical job search for a middle management role can take up to some months.
So, don’t quit if things aren’t easy instantaneously. Ask for feedback where possible, and build any enhancements to your job search strategy.
Just keep in mind that everybody has their own career path and taking a career break is more common than you think, despite the stigma that’s sometimes attached with it. So if you’re planning to make a comeback into the workforce after a career break, remember the above-mentioned tips to put you on the right path with renewed confidence.
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