December 6, 2017

Turning a career break into a benefit

People take career breaks for many reasons. Parenting, travel, volunteering, and education are only a few of the ways employees can be enriched by a career break. However, they all have one thing in common: when you are ready to return to work, potential employers will want to know why you took a break and why you want to go back to work.

Are your current skills relevant?

Depending on how long your career break was, the first obstacle to overcome is the perception that you may not know about current technology or market trends. It’s easy to stay up with market trends by reading industry news and blogs, staying up-to-date on technology and perhaps even keeping membership or joining professional organisations in your industry. If you’ve taken a career break to further your education, many of these organisations offer student rates. They’re a good way to keep abreast of industry events and they often provide excellent opportunities for networking.

Volunteering is another way to get experience and acquire new skills. If you have a professional skill, it’s fairly easy to find a volunteer position that can make a great difference to a charity or community organisation while giving you the opportunity to keep your skills sharp. If you’d like to acquire a skill, volunteering is an excellent way to acquire real knowledge and experience.

Before your interview write a short explanation that describes your career break in a positive way. Include constructive elements such as travel, studies, personal projects and time spent with family. You can also use this on your CV.

The interview

“Why do you want to return to work” or “Why did you take time out,” is a question many job seekers dread, but it can be an excellent opportunity to convince an employee that you are the ideal candidate for the job.

During an interview, address the question head-on. Discuss all the different things that you did during you career break, making sure to emphasise how those experiences will benefit your new role. For example, parents who took a career break to spend time with their children can talk about what they did to prepare children for the best start in life, as well as any volunteer or education they did during this time, increasing knowledge, skills and experience. Most importantly, don’t forget to link it to a specific skill needed for the job you are applying for.

Always bring attention back to your previous work experience. Be careful not to highlight how long you have been away from the workforce. Instead, talk about your skills and your previous experience.

Don’t underestimate yourself

Remember that you are just as capable as you were before your career break. You may be a little out of practice with the work world but you’ve probably gained many new skills during your break.

While finding the perfect new job is rarely quick and easy, the good news is that employers today are recognising the value of well-rounded, happy employees who have taken time off to pursue their passion or change their lives.

Join our talent pool today to find a new career opportunity.