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How to make a comeback after a career break

By Alison Rodericks

It’s been six years since you last worked in an office environment. You took time off to start a family and now that the kids have started school, you’re yearning to make a career comeback. But it’s daunting. Where do you start? How do you explain the gap in your CV? Who will be willing to hire you after such a long break? 

There’s a stigma that’s attached to people who take a career break. People wrongly assume that you no longer possess the skills to do the job and are a liability to the company. A recent study conducted by UNSW revealed that 51% of women were lacking confidence, which prevented them from getting ahead in their careers after a break. But hitting the pause button on your job is more common than you think. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4% of employees have taken a career break for six months or more, with 73% of this population being women who did so for “family reasons”. 

While making a career comeback is not easy, it’s still possible. Here are some ways that can help you climb that career ladder again:

4 tips on how to make a comeback after a career break

  1. Refresh your skills.
  2. Update your CV.
  3. Reach out and network.
  4. Seek a Returnship program.

1. Refresh your skills.

studying online

The first thing you need to do is take a step back and assess your situation and career path. Do you have the skills to do the job? If you’ve previously worked in a rapidly changing field such as IT, medicine or online marketing, you need to update your skills before re-entering the workplace. 

Getting your certification up to speed can help you gain valuable know-how and will show potential employers you are proactively staying abreast of industry changes. By enrolling in an accredited course, it will give you the opportunity to re-qualify with a relevant qualification in your desired industry. 

Upskilled has many courses in various industries, which are perfect for those wanting to kickstart their knowledge. Besides enrolling in a course, you can also do volunteer work in your chosen field, join a particular association/body, read the latest industry news and stay engaged on professional social media channels like LinkedIn to demonstrate that you have taken steps to re-engage in your field. 

2. Update your CV.

While many people wonder how to address the career break in their CV, many choose to ignore it altogether. However, it’s suggested that you should include this career gap in your resume

People leave the workforce temporarily for different reasons. Some do it voluntarily (e.g. starting a family, taking a sabbatical), while others do it involuntarily (caring for an aged parent, being made redundant at work). 

There is no need to hide your career gap. Instead, make sure you can explain it verbally in case you need to do so for a job interview, as well as on paper in your CV. 

Be clear on what you did during your break and why you decided it was the right thing for you. Explain why you have decided to re-join the workforce and highlight your skills, drive and focus. You need to have a clear explanation for the gap but refrain from giving too many details or getting too personal.

3. Reach out and network.

online networking concept

You need social credibility to find a job after a long break and the best way to gain this is through people you already know. Network, network and network. Use your existing connections – reach out to old colleagues, bosses, family and friends and let them know you’re ready to return to work. Who knows, they might have an opening for you, know somebody who does, or point you in the right direction. 

Step out of your comfort zone and attend industry events like conferences, seminars and workshops. They offer great networking opportunities because you never know who you’ll meet there and what they can lead to. Also, make sure you are active on social media, especially on professional sites like LinkedIn. 

4. Seek a Returnship program.

Today, more and more companies are offering “Returnships” to attract people who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time. As the name suggests, these schemes are a fantastic way for people to get back to a career they have previously worked in. 

It also gives them a chance to switch to an allied career which makes use of their transferable skills. These Returnship programs give returning staff structured support and mentoring to help them readjust to being back at work, while utilising the valuable experience and potential that mid-career level people bring to the job. 

It has a positive trickle-down effect not just on the organisation but on the economy too, since it sends a message that people can – and should – take extended leave and will be valued when they are ready to return to the workforce

Ready to make a career comeback?

If you’re ready to return to work, make sure you have the necessary qualifications that will help you learn the skills you need and secure your dream job. Upskilled has over 80 qualifications which are Nationally Recognised in various industries such as IT, marketing, logistics, human resources and community services. These flexible online courses can be completed in 12 months or less, depending on your progress. Speak to an education consultant today on 1300 009 924.
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