I’ve spoken to a number of people recently who for one reason or another have taken a career break. Those who’ve been on maternity leave, have been a carer for a family member or who’ve fulfilled a dream of travelling for example.
When starting to look for a job again, the overwhelming feeling that I get from these people is one of trepidation. They wonder if they will be able to return to the jobs market and in some cases, if they’ll be judged negatively for taking a break.
This anxiety is often caused by experience. By hearing stories from those who’ve found it difficult, or worse – as somebody commented on LinkedIn – they’re being told by some recruiters that it will be very challenging for them to return to an equivalent position to the one they previously held and are over-qualified for more junior roles – this is nonsense of course!
Now, if you’ve been on a career break yourself, you’ll know that there many benefits to hiring somebody who’s had time away from the office. I won’t list them here as there are many articles written about that online.
What I thought might be helpful would be to give some advice on what you can do if you’re beginning to look for a role after a career-break.
1) Give your LinkedIn profile focus – ensure it sells your skills and experience well. Under each job, write something that you achieved in that role too. Often, hiring managers will look at LI profiles as they shortlist candidates for interview so ensure this represents you in a positive light. Don’t ignore your career break and add a statement or two explaining why you have been away from work and what you learnt / the skills you developed. It will give clarity to anybody viewing it and prevent assumptions being made. Do the same with your CV.
2) Start preparing for interviews – Research common interview questions online and how you can answer them. Also think about how you’ll answer questions related to your break. Doing so will give you confidence.
3) Refresh your skills and knowledge – if you work in a regulated environment, read up on regulatory change and how that would impact your role. If you’re in HR, what trends have developed in the time you’ve been out of the workplace, that kind of thing. Do you need to update your knowledge of technology and attend a training course? If you ask a few people who work in your industry how their role has changed in the past 12 months, you’ll get a good idea of what you’ll need to learn.
4) Network – If you’ve been out of your industry for a while, people may not realise you’re looking to return. Reconnect with ex-colleagues, with those who would hire on LinkedIn and make them aware of your position. Go to industry events – the Big 4 are great at running these but you’ll be able to find free seminars and presentations that are relevant to you. You might just meet somebody who is hiring and at the very least, you’ll be able to add this to your LinkedIn profile and CV and also discuss at interview what you learnt. This will demonstrate your credibility.
5) Make a list – Things that you are and aren’t looking for in your next role. For example, if flexible working, what does that look like? If you need training, what is that you need? This will help articulate what you need at interview but more importantly, you’ll have a clear idea before beginning your search of what you’re looking for. Many companies have return-to-work schemes or flexible working in place and will be able to accommodate your needs. If they don’t, find another that does, there are many out there that will value your skills and experience.
I hope that helps!
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