Top 10 Tips for Returning to Work after a Career Break

Untitled design (74)The decision to return to work after a long absence can be a difficult one.

You may feel a financial necessity to return to work or you may simply feel that it is time to get back up on that proverbial horse. Whatever the reason for it, you will have been out of the game for a while and you need to be patient with yourself and also manage the expectations you have of yourself and the job market. We all know that the job market is not what it once was, so it may take a bit more time than you would like to find a job; but don’t be discouraged.

Here are some tips for returning to work after a break for raising children, travelling or taking a sabbatical.

1. The first step is rewriting your CV. In your new CV make it clear why you have taken time off and use this to your advantage.  Address the career gaps in a positive way and explain the skills you have learnt during this time.

2. Things move incredibly fast in the job market and you want to give yourself every advantage. To show you are up to date it is important to do some extra training courses relevant to your field. It will also ease you back into your industry more gently than if you had just jumped into a job. In addition it shows that you are open to more training.  There are many courses available so contact your local college or job centre to see what is out there.  This will help to improve your confidence levels too.

3. You may have been out of the game for a while, but you will probably have contacts and networks that you can draw on.  Ex-colleagues, friends and old employers. Let them know that you are getting back to work and are looking for a job.  Word of mouth is an excellent way to find employment and many vacancies are filled in this way.

4. Spend some money on new work clothes, you will at the very least need a new outfit for any job interviews you are invited to. You want to present a professional successful image so invest in some key wardrobe pieces.  If you look smart and professional on the outside it will help you to feel more confident when attending interviews and in the workplace.

5. Make it clear in your interview that you are completely committed to work, having taken some time off has recharged your batteries and you can’t wait to get back to work.

6. You don’t have to apologise for taking time off – you will have had a good reason to do so. And more to the point, your job experience before your hiatus is still extremely valuable. You do need to sell yourself in the interview so have some answers ready for the inevitable questions about what you have been doing during your career break.

7. A low pressure way of getting back into things is freelancing. With a short-term contract companies can trial your skills, so prove to them you are worth employing.

8. Once you start your new job, be friendly to the admin and secretarial staff; they are the people in the office who really know how things work and can give you a guiding hand.

9. Don’t get stuck in the past and say things like, ‘that’s not how I did it before’. Things have moved on and you need to do the same.

10. Try and be as sociable as your life commitments enable you to be. It can be difficult if you have childcare responsibilities but there will be some things you can attend, so make the best of those networking and rapport building opportunities.

Richard McMunn is the director and founder of and the author of this article. Richard spent 17 years in the Fire Service and now provides insider recruitment training for those looking to join the fire service, police service and also the armed forces.

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