Job search success after a career break

If you have taken time out of paid work to raise a family, care for yourself or others, have focused on study, or experienced a period of unemployment – starting to look for work after a break can be daunting. Picking up where you left off, or changing paths completely, requires both hard work and perseverance. Knowing how to answer an employer’s questions and how to set yourself up for a successful job search can take some of the stress out of returning to the workforce.

Be proactive

Successfully reentering the workforce after a break hinges on two fundamental aspects about you as a candidate: how well you communicate your motivation for returning to work and to what extent you can minimise the risks (fairly or unfairly) associated with your career break. Your future employer will want to know how your situation has changed and why you are looking for work. You may simply need the money but potential employers will likely expect a more compelling reason, so before applying you should be very clear about what you want to do, why it matches your skills and which companies interest you.

Employers might also be apprehensive about hiring a person who has been ‘off-tools’ for a while. You can address this concern head on by reassuring them your technical skills and industry knowledge are up-to-date and by demonstrating how you can add value to their team.

Make a career break work in your favour

If you are currently on a break it’s worth exploring what you can do to maintain your skills and keep up with trends in your industry.

You can build new relationships through industry events or professional associations; it’s a great way to keep connected to what is happening in your field, and also keeps you tapped in to a potential source of job opportunities. You can network online by building out a robust Linkedin profile and joining relevant groups – you will automatically start to see articles about the latest developments, and feel more connected to your industry. You can also start blogging and sharing articles yourself via Linkedin which will enrich your profile, build your network and position yourself as a subject matter expert.

Volunteering or upskilling are ways you can sharpen your skills and demonstrate to future employers you are committed and invested in your career. Helping your local community group raise and manage funds, creating newsletters, managing a social media page, mentoring, or working with the P&C all involve specific skills that are transferable to the workforce.

Whatever your industry there are multiple low-cost or no-cost options for upskilling online: such as degree programs via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), TAFE courses , or short-courses from the ASX or Project Management certifiers. Industry training associations and well-known business software applications often provide information and tutorials online. Find out the tools and skills most valued by employers in the companies you want to target and see what is available. Speaking with a recruiter with specialist experience such as Oxygen Recruitment & HR is a good first step if you are unsure about contacting companies directly.

How to address gaps in your CV

Omitting dates from your CV can do more harm than good. Unexplained gaps leave employers guessing and you may find that their conclusions are less flattering than the truth. Whatever your reason for taking a career break it’s important that your CV tells a story that makes sense and that your reason for returning is clear. You can highlight the skills you have acquired and what you have accomplished during your career break.

Parental Leave is no holiday

Returning to work after taking time out to raise children is a common scenario. Managing the needs of your family and embarking on a job search is a challenge, but you are not alone. Your reason for returning is easy to communicate and you can seek support from colleagues, friends or family members who have made a similar transition. Today, many companies are actively looking to capitalise on the hidden potential of parents returning to work through offering reentry programmes or additional support such as flexible working or internal parent groups.

Whatever your reasons behind taking a career break, with a little planning, the right help and a positive outlook, you can reinvigorate your career and embark on a job search with confidence. Oxygen Recruitment & HR have years of experience helping candidates find their dream job. Contact us to have a confidential discussion about your plans to return to work.