10 Tips for Getting Back Into Work After a Career Break
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 7 November 2022 | Published 30 November 2021
Updated 7 November 2022
Published 30 November 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Although going back to work after a career break can be challenging, there are some things that can help you with this transition. Knowing how to update your CV and knowledge before applying for jobs can make you feel more confident and discover your value as an applicant. It's also useful to know how to successfully explain the career break to an interviewer. In this article, we share 10 tips for successfully getting back into work and discuss how you can explain your career break during a job interview.
10 tips for getting back into work
Getting back into work can seem daunting after a career break, but you can make the process much easier by following a set of steps. Those steps include:
1. Assess your marketability
Assessing your skills and marketability is one of the first things you can do to prepare after a career break. It allows you to determine which employers and companies would be most interested in hiring you. To do this, you can make a list of some of the most valuable skills that you used in previous roles.
It's also important to list some of your responsibilities from those roles. You can start your list with duties that you enjoyed the most. This way, you may find it easier to decide if you'd like to continue gaining experience in your profession or explore a different career.
2. Determine your expectations
Determining your expectations is essential to making sure your new job satisfies you. In this step, you can ask yourself what your dream position would be like. For example, you may prefer working shifts rather than a nine-to-five job. It's also important to determine if you'd feel better working independently or if you like working within a team or with customers. Depending on the type of job you choose, you can research the average salary for the role and establish your compensation requirements. Listing your expectations helps you choose jobs to which you can apply first.
3. Reflect on your break
Consider if there's something that you did during your break that could help you during the job search. For example, if you learned a new skill or volunteered, you can use this information to make a good impression on the hiring manager. Including this information on your CV and talking about it during a job interview positions you as a proactive individual who always makes sure to spend their time wisely.
4. Update your knowledge
This is an important step if you previously worked in a profession that required you to, for example, continuously research new trends in the industry. Getting back into a similar role may involve updating your knowledge about recent regulations or findings in the field you're in. Although this may be an extensive process, you may consider using some time-management tools to better organise your learning. Setting a long-term goal and dividing it by scheduling smaller tasks that you can complete within a day can help you maintain motivation and accomplish your goal.
5. Start networking
You may begin the active stage of your job search by networking with former colleagues, employers or even old school friends. If you've maintained a good relationship with them, the chances are that they'd be willing to support you during the transition. For example, they may give you some tips, refer you to someone who's looking for employees or even offer you a job at their company. Reconnecting with former colleagues is a great way of letting your close professional circle know you're ready to return to work.
6. Research companies and job offers
After performing a self-assessment, reconnecting with your former colleagues and reflecting on your break, it's typically time to start researching available job opportunities. Consider choosing a few companies you'd like to work for and carefully go through their job listings. Reviewing job descriptions, including requirements and sample job duties, may help you identify what skills you can still improve to increase your chances of quickly getting a job. It also shows you if your expectations are realistic and reflect the current state of your industry.
7. Gain new skills
Making your application more interesting to potential employers may require that you spend some time gaining new skills. For example, you may consider learning new software or a foreign language and improving some of your soft skills, such as teamwork or problem-solving skills. Doing this shows that you're committed to achieving your goal of getting the job and helps you position yourself as a determined and dedicated individual.
If you're unsure what skills a potential employer may find valuable, consider reaching out to someone who works at the company. You can even politely approach the hiring manager and tell them that you're interested in applying to the company in the near future. The chances are that they'd appreciate your straightforwardness and share some tips on how you can improve your value as an applicant.
8. Update your CV
Updating your CV by adding new skills you've learned during your break allows you to highlight your most valuable qualities. It's also important that you update your professional summary or personal statement to reflect your new career goals. Making sure to create a CV that fits the job you're applying for increases your chances of making a lasting impression on the hiring manager and getting a job interview invitation. For example, if you're applying for a creative or artistic position, introducing some colours to your CV may help you stand out.
9. Write a cover letter
If you decide to focus on your skills and qualifications while creating your CV, you may explain your career break in your cover letter. Addressing it during the first stage of recruitment allows you to clearly inform the hiring manager that you're ready to return to work. You may also choose to briefly mention how you've prepared for it, for example, by mentioning what skills you learned or what classes you took before applying. Employers want to know that you're emotionally and physically ready to perform well on the job.
After briefly addressing your gap, proceed with other elements of a standard cover letter. This includes explaining how you learned about the opening, why you'd make a good employee and what values you can bring to the company. It's important to list some of your proudest accomplishments from recent roles, as long as they're relevant to this new role. Make sure to mention that you're excited about the opportunity and proofread the letter to ensure it makes you look professional.
10. Prepare for a job interview
Once a company invites you to a job interview, it's important to prepare for it. Consider thoroughly researching the company to better understand its culture. Make sure to study the job description and identify which keywords the employer used to describe primary duties and responsibilities. You can then use them to formulate interesting answers that highlight your best qualities and assure the interviewer that you've got what it takes to succeed in that role.
It's important that you feel confident when discussing your previous roles and skills with an interviewer. You may want to practise answering common questions with a friend in a role-play situation.
Explaining a career break to an interviewer
An interviewer may ask you about your career gap. They do this to better understand your situation and see if you're ready for returning to work. There are many reasons for taking a career break. If you decided to do it because you wanted to further improve your qualifications by attending university or role-specific courses, you may choose to discuss this openly during the interview. Showing confidence and sharing that taking a break was a part of your long-term professional goal may position you as someone who knows how to prioritise and organise your career.
If you took a career break for personal reasons, you might decide not to mention the details during the interview. Instead, consider assuring the interviewer that although recent months or years have been challenging for you, you're ambitious and ready to return to work. Sharing some of your goals that you'd like to accomplish and showing how your skills can help the employer may increase your chances of advancing to the next round of interviews.
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