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Going Back To Work After A Career Break: The Complete Guide

People take career breaks for many different reasons. You may have taken some time off from your career because you had a health problem to deal with or because you had family issues that you wanted to focus your time on. 

Perhaps you took time off to bring up a young family or care for an elderly or infirm relative. Whatever your reasons, it can be stressful when you try and return to the workplace and it can make you feel very anxious You are not used to a workplace environment, the constraints of fixed working hours and interacting with colleagues. Your family and pets are used to you being in the house for most of the day and you may have taken on the lion’s share of the household chores. Now that you are going back to work, things are going to have to change! It will take some planning to make the transition go smoothly.

Preparing yourself for returning to work

A lack of confidence is going to be your biggest enemy. You will be competing for jobs against candidates who are possibly younger than you and who are accustomed to the world of work. This can make you feel inadequate and doubt your abilities. You should not confuse your lack of confidence with a lack of ability because you have a lot to offer.

Running a household and looking after a young family or a sick relative takes a lot of skills. You will have had to prioritise your time, think on your feet and show both leadership and teamworking skills. Don’t underestimate what you are capable of. Perhaps you even held down positions of responsibility such as school governor or chairperson of the Parents Teachers Association.
It is true that your particular field may have moved on but it is nothing that you cannot sort out with a few training courses and some voluntary work or work experience. There are plenty of courses that you can choose from online and that you can study in your own time.

Preparing your household for your return to work

Your kids, partner, pets, and friends are going to see a big difference so you need to prepare them. If you take some training courses before you go back to work this will help to ease everyone gently into the changed household set up. Talk to your partner and older kids about household chores. Write a list of everything that needs to be done on what days and share out the tasks. Write out a schedule and pin it up in the kitchen. You can agree to pay your older kids for doing their share if that helps and if you can afford it. If your new salary will stretch to it, you could buy in some help. You could pay a cleaner to visit once a week or pay someone to do your ironing. Batch cook meals at the weekend and pop them in the freezer. Then you will always have nutritious and healthy meals to serve to your family. Get a supermarket to deliver your shopping so that you do not have to spend hours wandering around the store!

Young children who are too young to go to school or nursery will need to attend some kind of childcare when you return to work. This can be very upsetting for you and can make your child anxious. It is important that you take the time to find a child care provider where your little one feels happy. You have the option of state or private nurseries, playgroups, childminders or a private nanny. You will need to make your decision based on your budget and on what your children prefer. Don’t forget that you will need to plan a settling in period for them before you actually start your new job.

If you bought a dog into your family whilst you were off work, they could be the one that notices the biggest difference. This can be very stressful for your pet and for the rest of the family. Some dogs are very unhappy about being left on their own for long periods of time especially when they are not used to it. Will you be too exhausted when you get home to take a lively dog out on a long walk? You can find out more about dog walking services in your area and work out if they can help you. They offer a complete service of dog walking and dog sitting provided by experienced and insured animal lovers. You can go back to work knowing that your pet is in safe hands and will be getting lots of fun and exercise during the day.

Getting the job that you want

There is little point in returning to work if you end up in a job that you hate so make it worth your while and choose a career path that works for you. Prepare your CV carefully so that employers will be impressed. You can deal with your career gap in a number of ways. In general, it is a mistake to draw a lot of attention to it by writing CAREER BREAK in bold font. Just enter it in naturally in your list of experience. You do not have to adopt the traditional CV approach and list your jobs in chronologic order. Instead, write a skills and experience based CV where you list all of the skills that you can offer and the experience that you have. You don’t have to say when you got them! Don’t forget to emphasise the particular experience you have that will help with the job that you are applying for. May your CV specific for that job. generic CVs are not so impressive. If you have not written a CV for many years there is plenty of help and guidance available on the web.

It is best not to send out your CV of hundreds of potential employers however tempting that may be. It is best to target specific jobs and tailor your CV accordingly. Try for two or three jobs at a time and if you are unsuccessful move on to the next batch. If you get called for interview but do not get the job, use the experience to your advantage. Ask for feedback on what you could have done better or gaps in your skills and experience that you should do something about.

Networking is always a good thing. Put the word out amongst friends and acquaintances that you are looking for work. Drop hints in the playground and in the park. You never know what may come of it.

Get the working conditions that suit you

You are perfectly within your rights to seek a job that offers flexible working. This will allow you to care for your family as well as contributing to the household tasks. Perhaps you could work from home for part of the week? Many employers prefer this method of working because it saves them having to provide a huge office space to accommodate everyone. Employees can work from home and pop into the office a few times a week to attend meetings. You get to avoid the cost and the hassle of commuting to and from work every day and finding somewhere to park!

Ask around to find out which employers offer flexible working. People in your area will know which employers are good to work for.


*This is a collaborative post*

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