Know how to restart your career after a break

Apr 2019

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How to Restart Career after a break

Career is an important facet of any individual's life. In our society, a job defines us and grants us social standing. Moreover, a career gives us the freedom to live our life on our own terms, especially for a woman in India, where the length of her dress decides her virtue, where women are supposed to stay home and take care of the family. As such, having an individual career is essential for a woman. Not just for its financial benefits, but also for the sense of identity that a job can offer her.

Taking time off between jobs

However, sometimes unforeseen situations in life can compel a woman to take a break from her career. This break may be of a few weeks to months to even years, depending on the reason behind the gap and the situation. Most women choose to quit their job after their marriage, either to relocate with their husbands or to take care of their children. The former, sometimes, allow them to resume their work after a short period of adjustment to the new city. However, the latter and related reasons can have a woman take a break that lasts years.

Whatever may be the reason, and how much ever long the gap is, career breaks always affect the future employability of an individual, even more so for a woman. There are a few reasons why this happens, and they are:

Inability to explain the gap:

In a professional setting, personal matters have no value. In an office, work and its related issues matter more than an individual's private problems do. Bringing personal matters to the workplace, in fact, is frowned upon in all organizations. As such, taking a career break for reasons like pregnancy or marriage is not something most companies appreciate. Therefore, when a woman decides to work again and goes for interviews, one of the most difficult questions to answer is, "What were you up to during this gap?"

An answer like, "taking care of family" would be frowned upon because the company, honestly, doesn't care about it. What they want to hear is that you have been keeping your skills up-to-date and were involved in a professional arena. An absence of this leads to many women not receiving jobs, and if they do, they are paid significantly less than their male counterpart and the rest of the staff in the department. They will most likely be treated like a fresher when they are not.

Company's concerns about skills:

As mentioned above, what company cares about in your resume and about you is what skills you possess and what work you can handle. As such, they would be concerned about the career break because they feel that the gap has compromised the relevance of your skills in an ever-changing, ever-growing job industry.

Which, in a way, it has.

Because, while dealing with whatever reason you had to take a break, chances are you lag behind as far as industrial skills are concerned. Especially if you haven't been professionally active in the years during the gap. Therefore, organizations will be hesitant about giving you the job because of their anxieties regarding your ability to get back to a professional space after a significant period of time.

Clash between schedules:

A career break means a lot of changes in your schedule, especially if you took a gap because you were starting a family. You may want to spend a little more time with your children than in front of a computer, especially if your children aren't independent yet.

As such, resuming work can be challenging because you will have to balance between work and home. Moreover, the company you wish to work for should be supportive of this changed schedule. Which means you require a flexible work culture that allows you, on occasion, to work from home. This is something not all companies are willing to offer, hence they hesitate to hire you.

Also read: Career advice no one ever gives

Getting back into the workforce

However, these factors need not hinder your plan to resume back to work. The tips listed below shall have you back on your feet in no time. Here is how to restart a career after a break:

Have a plan before taking a break

Before considering taking a break from your career, it is advisable to plan your gap carefully. Often unplanned breaks lead to women never resuming work. Therefore, when you start thinking about quitting the job, ask yourself a few questions first.

  • Do I need to quit working at this point?
  • Do I have options to work part-time or online?
  • What is my deadline for resuming back to work?

When you answer these questions, you will know how exactly your break is going to be and how you can get back to working afterwards. Planning your break is an essential part of a career gap, without which it will be tough resuming back to work.

Network

With platforms like LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit, and other social media websites, networking is not tough. Resuming back to work, in fact, requires you to network as much as possible, with people from your field and outside. During the career break, women should make it a point to stay in touch with former colleagues and co-workers, as doing so will ensure you are up-to-date with the latest news. Moreover, there are instances where people have networked their way into jobs using platforms like LinkedIn. Therefore, one of the first steps one should take when thinking about resuming back to work is to stay connected with people in the industry.  

Freelance and internships

As mentioned above, companies look for professional experience during your career gap. As such, having internships and freelance practice on your resume can boost your chances of getting hired by organizations.

Learn constantly

The importance of skills cannot be stressed enough when it comes to returning back to work after a career break. Therefore, it is pertinent to keep oneself update with the new products, software, or skills in the concerned industry. Use networking, webinars and seminars, reading materials, and training programs to learn new things related to your job. Doing so will ensure you get hired by companies easily.

Also read: 10 signs that you need help from career counsellor

Career breaks are inevitable for most individuals, considering their situations. However, a gap need not be the end of their professional dreams and aspirations. Returning back to work is tough, but not impossible. If one is to follow the tips above, it won't be long before they find themselves getting back into the workforce.