Have you taken time out from your career to start a family, following a redundancy or a change in direction? Or have you taken a break to enjoy new experiences, such as travelling? Whatever motives you have had for taking a career break, there may come a time when you decide to jump back onto the career ladder.
Embarking on a job search can be a daunting experience, but it can be even more unnerving following a break in your career. You may you feel anxious about starting a new position or you may worry that your skills are a little rusty because a lot has changed since you have been in the workplace.
If you feel you are in this situation, here are six effective tips to help increase your chances of getting hired following a career break:
1. Assess your situation
Often, people can make the mistake of jumping straight back into the first job they can find. Firstly, if you are unsure about a job, the interviewer may sense your uncertainty and will be unlikely to progress any further with your application. Take time to identify your current situation and what exactly you are looking for.
If you accept a job offer that isn’t suitable for you, you could even find yourself job hopping frequently before you find the right fit for you. It’s therefore important to take some time to assess your situation first and decide what type of role you are looking for. Remember that what was right for you before a career break may have differed.
2. Update your CV to include your career break
It is common for candidates to believe that a gap in their CV will hinder their chances of being hired when they return to the workforce. However, instead of seeing it as a limitation, see it as something positive that can differentiate you from other candidates. A break allows you to take a step back and re-evaluate your future. Employers will appreciate your courage to reassess your personal goals and aspirations and your desire to move forward with your career.
Be sure to include any new skills that you may have developed during your break, and explain how these can relate to the job you are now applying for. For example, did you take an online course in finance? Did you do volunteer work and develop your leadership skills? Or perhaps travelling the world helped you to overcome language and cultural differences, which will allow you to communicate more effectively in the workplace?
When looking for your first job after a career break, don’t forget to use your existing connections. Spend some time reaching out to your previous colleagues, clients, friends and family. Let them know that you are seeking a new position.
This is also a good opportunity to prepare any potential references that could support your new job applications.
4. Be prepared for your interview
Before you attend your first interview, make sure you are prepared to answer questions about your career break. You may be asked why you have a career gap and what you did with your time. Honesty is the first step. Make it clear what you did during your break and why you decided it was the right thing for you to do. You could tailor your answers to demonstrate how your break will benefit the role you are now applying for. Think about some of the concerns an interviewer may have. For example, what your motivations and whether it is the right time to re-join the workforce.
5. Look for career assistance programmes or contact recruiters
As well as using job boards to search for jobs, research the various career returner programs that may be available. Recruitment agencies are also a great resource, especially as it is a free service. Recruiters can help you to identify what roles you would be interested in applying for and can also offer guidance and support in relation to updating your CV, interview preparation etc.
6. Be confident
It can be overwhelming returning to the job search following a career break. However, it is important to be confident in your own abilities and to draw strength from your past experience and skills. A career break might just be the platform to help you to rediscover your drive, passion and motivation, so use this to your advantage!
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