Career Crossroads: 3 Steps to Take When Returning to Work after a Career Break
To say that it’s difficult to return to work after a career break would be an understatement. This transition is riddled with struggles and frustrations. For one, you’re battling insecurities within. If you’ve been in hiatus for a long time, there’s a good chance that your skills and knowledge about the profession have gone rusty. You probably feel like you’re a newbie once more, stepping into the unknown. Aside from the not-so-good self-perception, you’re also dealing with the perception of others, particularly recruiters and would-be bosses. They may not be as confident as you want them to be in hiring you. What do you do in this career dilemma? Here are the steps you should take:
Know what you need and want
A lot of people make themselves busy looking at online job listings or submitting resumes as soon as they decide to get back into the workforce. But it pays to take some time to reflect on what exactly you need and want for your career. Your hiatus has, for sure, changed something in you, so you want to consider that in this next chapter of your life. Do you want to go back to the same job you had before or is it time for something different? Do you like to be more flexible in terms of working hours in your next job or do you prefer the stringent schedule of your last job? What’s something that would give you satisfaction and a sense of purpose? Think about these things before diving deep into job applications. List your priorities in your next job. With this, you’ll be able to be more strategic in your job hunting, at the same time, get a sense that you’re in control of an otherwise-chaotic situation.
Read up (or re-read up) on the industry.
If you’re taking the same route as before, you’ll soon discover that the line of work you left months or years ago isn’t exactly the same as now. There are new techniques, new tools, even new thought leaders. You need to keep up with that. On the other hand, if you’re treading a completely different path from what you took before, it’s all the more necessary to fill up the lack of knowledge and skill. In fact, you need to be ‘socialized’ into that job, knowing its culture and language. Note that any change, whether that be in working environment or hours, even granted that it’s the same job, will be a ‘different path’ and would require greater adjustment. For instance, if you’re a pre-school teacher at your local community for years, and now you want to teach high school students overseas, say, explore international school employment Philippines-based schools offer, you have to spend more time in intensive learning. You should be able to attend several workshops and seminars, and perhaps secure certain certifications.
Let recruiters know why you took a break.
Once you’re ready to get on to the job market, it’s important to explain to potential employers the reason you had a career break. It should be in your cover letter. It should be in your interview. But make sure to keep it short. A one-sentence explanation will do: “I needed to take care of my sick mom-in-law.” or “It was my priority to spend as much time as I can with my eldest child.” You want this to be brief because you want to draw attention to the relevant experience you had before taking a break.
It’s a real dilemma to go back to work after a long hiatus. But it’s possible to keep up with the competitive field and thrive again. Take these mentioned steps to get started.