One for the 'Career Breakers'
There are endless reasons why you might have decided to take a break from your career. Perhaps you wanted to start a family, or broaden your horizons with new experiences through travelling or pursuing a passion, such as music or sport – the bottom line is that life has a funny habit of getting in the way, and believe it or not ‘career breakers’ like yourself are a lot more common than you think.
Deciding to return to work after a career break, however substantial, can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. You may feel anxiety that your skills are rusty, or perhaps that your industry or your position may have changed in your absence – this blog gives some advice on how best to prepare yourself for taking those first steps back up your own personal career ladder.
Update your CV
First things first, get your CV up to date. Many ‘career breakers’ feel there is a stigma around taking a break from the career ladder that will hinder their future ambitions, and so choose to not acknowledge their career break on their CV and cover letter.
Take it from us, it is far far better to address this career gap. Believe it or not, employers are people too and do understand that sometimes there are things out there more important than the 9-5 (shock!).
A potential employer will be far more impressed if you discuss your career break in terms of how you developed yourself and your skills during your period away from work (and this will save some potentially awkward questions in the interview).
For example, if you took time out to go travelling, write down each country with a time period with a new skill like a new job experience, e.g.
March 2019 – June 2019: Vietnam:
Developed skills in bravery and teamwork during a three day white-water rafting trip on unsupervised rapids.
Time management and organisation were vital to ensure that we successfully made our booked coaches, trains and buses and visited everything that we wanted to see around the country before our Visa expired.
Broadened my awareness and understanding of different cultures and nationalities by spending a month teaching English to Vietnamese children and their families.
This will develop your CV by demonstrating that you are career-oriented and forward thinking, giving you that all important something different that will make you stand out from the crowd.
If you are feeling really anxious about the prospect of returning to work, there are many ways you can settle your nerves. A lot of this is in personal preparation. Meet old colleagues and discuss the industry, how it has changed and developed and what you can be doing to best prepare you to get your head back in the game over a cup of tea.
Alternatively, there are many useful career development websites and refresher courses available through a quick internet search – these are a great way to show an employer that you are really keen to return to work and to excel.
Another option that you may choose is to register with a specialist recruitment service (like CY Partners). We provide a service that is tailored for you, helping you to find the positions that are best suited to your needs and skill set. Our consultants have inside-information on the company and recruitment process, and can put your mind at ease by fighting your corner and by guiding you through each step of the way through interview right the way through to your first day.
Network, Network, Network. Use any and all existing contacts, be they friends, family or former colleagues that can help you to get back onto the career ladder – every little helps. A really popular way to do this is through LinkedIn: but prepare yourself if you do choose to use a social media approach to help you back into employment. Make sure all of your social media profiles are PG and clean – change your settings to private, and any pictures of you that are available preferably do not image you with a drink in your hand.
A lot of candidates make the mistake of talking about their last position as if it was way way in the past, whilst also skimming over the details of their career break – which for obvious reasons does not give the best impression to a potential employer.
Instead, do prepare answers for, and be prepared to be asked the following questions:
- what you have been doing most recently?
- what you did and why you did it?
- why you want to come back?
- are you ready to come back? And to commit to coming back to work?
There is no need to get on the defensive for this, nor do you have to go into too much detail if the reason for your career break was very personal. But do be honest. State the reason why you decided to take a career break, and why it was the right decision for you (even if it wasn’t, do try and stay positive – you live and you learn).
State what skills you developed and how it led you to apply for this position, e.g. how much the role means to you after taking some time away.
Do not talk about your previous work experience as if it was way in the past – this is not the mindset you want to give an employer. Rather than referring to years (your employer will know how long ago this experience was from your CV) talk about your previous role in terms of specific projects and tasks:
- what problems did you encounter?
- what did you learn from the experience?
- did it help you to develop any skills or did you learn to use any new or important software?
- did you have a specific impact on the overall outcome?
Confidence is key
It’s easier said than done, but BE CONFIDENT – write down your skills and strengths on a piece of paper, look over an old cover letter / old work that you did (if you had any) and familiarise yourself with how talented and competent you are.
Knowledge is power
Get your head in the game by keeping up to date with industry news:
- research both competitors and the company that you are applying for
- look up any new technological advancements or ways in which your industry or role might have changed
- follow influential industry blogs
- listen to relevant and recent podcasts
A little bit of research like this can go a long way to help demonstrate to an employer that you have continued your passion and interest in your chosen career alongside developing yourself personally, whatever that may have been.
If you are feeling anxious about getting back to work, or perhaps are unsure on where to start in your job search, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our recruitment consultants are in the office 8:30 – 5:30 Monday to Friday and are happy to assist you in anyway they can: 0191 477 4733.