Returning to work after a significant career break can be particularly daunting for professionals who have been out of the workforce for five or more years.
Whether you took time off to care for family, recover from illness, pursue further education, or for any other reason, it’s natural to feel uncertain about your re-entry into the professional world.
However, rest assured that you possess valuable skills and experiences gained during your longer career break that can set you apart from the crowd. In this blog post, we’ll explore strategies for updating your skills and knowledge, demonstrating your ability to learn quickly, and highlighting the unique value you bring to the table as a returning professional.
1. Self-Assessment and Skill Update
Before diving back into the job market, take some time for self-assessment. Reflect on your experiences, skills, and interests. Consider what type of work you are passionate about and how your skills align with those goals. It’s important to identify any gaps in your knowledge and skills and work on filling them.
a. Online Courses and Certifications: The digital age has made it easier than ever to acquire new skills. Online platforms like Coursera, edX, and LinkedIn Learning offer a wide range of courses and certifications in various fields. Consider enrolling in relevant courses to update your skills and stay current with industry trends. The Returners’ Tribe also offers a number of fully funded courses that may help close the knowledge gap.
b. Networking and Professional Associations: Reconnect with your professional network and join industry-specific associations. Attend conferences, webinars, and networking events to gain insights into the latest developments in your field. Networking can also help you discover potential job opportunities.
c. Volunteering and Internships: If possible, consider volunteering or interning in your desired field. This hands-on experience can help you gain practical knowledge, rebuild your resume, and make valuable connections.
2. Demonstrate Your Ability to Learn Quickly
One of the key concerns for employers when hiring returning professionals is whether they can adapt to the fast-paced and evolving nature of the workforce. Here’s how you can demonstrate your capacity to learn quickly:
a. Highlight Transferable Skills: Emphasise skills gained during your career break that are transferable to the workplace, such as project management, problem-solving, leadership, or communication skills. Provide concrete examples of how you’ve applied these skills in your personal life or volunteer work.
b. Showcase Lifelong Learning: Mention any online courses, certifications, or workshops you’ve completed to update your skills. This showcases your commitment to continuous learning and adaptability.
c. Be Tech-Savvy: In today’s digital age, being tech-savvy is essential. Familiarise yourself with relevant software tools and platforms used in your industry. Xero and Quickbooks, for example, have free courses on their websites that teach people how to use their online platforms. Don’t forget to mention any tech-related skills on your resume. E
3. Communicate Your Unique Value
Returning professionals often underestimate the value they bring to the table due to their career break. It’s essential to articulate the unique strengths you’ve developed during your time away from work:
a. Soft Skills: Stress the soft skills you’ve honed, such as time management, resilience, and adaptability, during your career break. Many Returners’ often talk about their improved leadership skills, and all these are highly sought after by employers.
b. Problem-Solving: Describe how you’ve overcome challenges or managed complex situations during your time away from the workforce. This demonstrates your ability to handle adversity and find creative solutions.
c. Fresh Perspective: Highlight how your career break has given you a fresh perspective and a deeper understanding of work-life balance. You may bring a unique viewpoint to the workplace that can benefit your future employer’s team dynamics. Don’t be afraid to say that your career has given you space to re-assess your career choices and explain why you have chosen this career.
Returning to work after a career break can be a fulfilling journey that allows you to leverage your experiences and embark on new opportunities. By updating your skills, demonstrating your ability to learn quickly, and emphasising your unique value, you can make a compelling case to potential employers.
Remember that your career break has equipped you with valuable skills and a fresh outlook, making you an asset to any organisation willing to invest in your growth and potential. Embrace the journey, and you’ll find yourself on a path to a successful and rewarding return to the professional world.
Don't worry if you're having difficulty, we are here to help. Whether it is helping you with your self-assessment, pointing you in the direction of relevant courses or qualifications, or qualifying your new range of soft skills, or all 3, we can guide you along every step of the way.