Work After a Long Career Break

How to Prepare to Go Back to Work After a Long Career Break

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Taking a career break can be rejuvenating and provide valuable life experience. However, returning to work after being away for an extended period can also be daunting. With some preparation and planning, you can make the transition back into the workforce smooth and successful.

Update Your Skills

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, there may be new skills or technologies used in your industry that you need to learn. Spend time researching what skills are in demand for the roles you want to pursue. Enroll in courses or career training programs to update your skills in those areas. For example, take a class on new software programs used in your field. Consider volunteering or taking on freelance work to get hands-on experience with in-demand skills.

Network and Make Connections

Networking is crucial when re-entering the workforce after a long break. Reach out to former colleagues and let them know you are looking to return to work. Attend industry events, conferences, and seminars, or take part in professional associations to expand your network. Many jobs are never advertised publicly, so tapping into your network is key. Ask contacts if they know of any job opportunities that would be a good fit for you. Staying up-to-date on your industry will also help with networking conversations.

Polish Up Your Resume

Update your resume to showcase the skills and experience you have gained during your career break. Highlight transferable skills from volunteer work, freelance gigs, classes, or parenting. Focus on accomplishments that show you are ready to take on new responsibilities. Remove any irrelevant or outdated information. Have a career coach or trusted contact review your updated resume to get feedback.

Practice Interviewing

Interviewing skills get rusty when you haven’t done it in a while. Schedule mock interviews with friends or mentors to practice responding to common questions. Review typical interview questions for your field and prepare clear and concise responses. Refresh your knowledge of your work history and key skills so you can provide specific examples during behavioral interviews. Project confidence and emphasize your eagerness to take on new challenges.

Evaluate Childcare Options

If you stepped away from work to raise children, childcare plans are key to returning to work smoothly. Research options such as daycare centers, nannies, after-school programs, or help from family members. Start touring facilities or interviewing caregivers a few months before you plan to start working. Check costs and availability at different centers. Create a checklist of questions when evaluating potential in-home caregivers. Having reliable childcare lined up will make the transition significantly easier.

Be Open and Adaptable

While you may wish to jump back into the same type of role, keep an open mind about new opportunities. The job market likely looks different than when you left. Be willing to tweak your career path by taking adjacent roles that utilize your skills, even if they aren’t your dream job right away. Adaptability and willingness to learn are valued traits. Focus on finding a role that fits your needs right now, even if it’s just on a contract or temporary basis initially.

Preparing in advance will help ease the transition back to work after a long career break. Update your skills, expand your network, polish up application materials, and line up childcare if needed. With some time and effort, you can successfully relaunch your career.

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