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How to hit the ground running after a career break

Man wearing glasses fixing plug on wall

There are lots of reasons why you might have to put your career on pause for a while, whether it’s bringing up kids, taking care of elderly relatives or just pursuing a personal passion such as travel. And that means relaunching your career is increasingly a rite of passage.

But that doesn’t make it easy: you might worry about whether your skills are up to date or what employers will think about the gap on your CV.

Don’t forget that you have advantages too, though. In a TED Talk on returning to work that has been watched by nearly three-million people, Carol Fishman Cohen says: “We have an energy and enthusiasm about returning to work precisely because we’ve been away.”

Here are some ideas on making sure that enthusiasm counts:

Update your CV

Polishing your CV is an opportunity to think about your new career plan and to remind yourself of your skills. But you’ll need to address the gaps, and experts say you have two options.

Either you can explicitly but briefly state you were out of the workforce and why. Or you can write a hybrid CV, which puts the focus away from the timeline onto skills and experience.  “A hybrid CV will distract the reader from the gap and let them focus on the skills and experience you can bring,” says Sarah Archer, founder of CareerTree.

Want more tips on updating your CV, click here

Reconnect with your old colleagues and contacts

Many of the best job leads come from personal connections, so don’t just scour the online ads – make contact with everyone you know and tell them you’re relaunching your career and looking for a new position.

Don’t worry that people might think you are out of touch: you’re more likely to find getting in touch with former colleagues restores your professional self-image. As Cohen says, “People’s view of you is frozen in time. They only remember you as you were – it’s a great confidence boost.”

Refresh your skills

Some industries move fast and your knowledge can quickly become obsolete. Cohen says many employers are concerned about the IT skills of returners, so a college course can help ensure you have all the tricks and tips you need. Click here to link to our range of IT courses.

Both government and the private sector are now backing return to work programmes – dedicated opportunities for people coming back from career breaks where they can refresh their skills and ease back into the workforce.

Know your rights

Particularly if you’re returning from parental leave, you might not be able to resume the schedule that you had before you had a family. Luckily, employers are increasingly aware that flexible working helps attract a wider range of talent.

“Increasing numbers of innovative employers are changing their approach to finding new talent, and are focusing more on output achieved, than time put in getting there, says career coach Inger Christensen. Either way, you have a legal right to request flexible hours, and you can appeal.

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