There can be a variety of reasons why you may have taken a break in your career. You may have been dedicating your time to raising a family, spending time travelling or studying, taking time out due to sickness or perhaps you were made redundant. Regardless of the original reason for taking a career break, returning to the workplace can be very daunting.
Review your skills
If you have been out of the workplace for a while, it can be easy to feel that you no longer have the skills employers are looking for. It can be beneficial to take a look at the period you spent out of the workplace, not only to consider which skills you might want to brush up on but also to identify the skills and experiences you have gained during your ‘time out’. For example, were you a member of a voluntary group? If so, perhaps you were involved in organising events. Even on a small scale, these may have provided you with skills (administrative, organisational etc.) which are transferable to the workplace.
Research your industry
It can also be worthwhile to spend some time researching the area you are planning to work in or return to, before you begin to apply for positions. If you are returning to the same field, consider how it may have changed (are there new policy developments? have procedures or equipment changed?). If you’d like to move into a different field, consider which skills you may need to learn.
Armed with this knowledge, you should find yourself in a much stronger position. You’ll be able to demonstrate to a prospective employer that you are aware of the current state of play within your field, and you will be able to decide whether it is necessary to update some of your skills.
Updating your skills
If there have been advances in technology since you were last in the workplace, you may consider taking a short course to familiarise yourself with new software packages. You may feel more confident when you re-enter the workplace, if you have already familiarised yourself with a variety of software.
Your consultant will be able to advise you on training for the main software packages used in administrative positions. A good way to start is by determining what you need to brush up on. Your consultant can arrange for you to visit one of our offices and complete skills testing, so you know your typing speed and skill level on commonly used products like MS Office Suite.
Explaining your career break
Try to imagine your career path from your potential employer’s point of view, particularly as they may want to know why you took a career break. It is useful to have thought out and be able to explain:
- your reasons for taking time out
- your reasons for wanting to re-enter the workplace
- your career ambitions for the future
Employers can spend only seconds looking at a resume. Even if there are reasonable explanations, gaps can raise concerns in their minds. If you have taken time to raise a family, you should note in on your resume. Likewise, time away from work to study or travel should also be noted - your period away may have even given you the skills or experience your potential employer is looking for.
Whatever the reason, be prepared to explain it in an interview and put your time away in a positive light.
For more information, including on how to write your resume and interview techniques, please ask your consultant.