Whether you’ve been out of work for several months or several years, returning to work after a career break can be a challenging process.
There’s a broad number of reasons someone might step back from their career, such as redundancy, changes in personal circumstances or even burnout – a recent survey by Asana shows that out of 10,000 workers across seven countries, 70% of respondents suffered from burnout in the last two years.
Regardless of why you leave the world of work, there are several things you can do that make the transition back into work much easier. In this article, we explore why people leave their jobs and provide 7 tips for getting back to work after a career break.
Why Do People Leave Their Jobs?
Over the last four years, more people than ever are leaving their jobs than ever before. In fact, since the pandemic, the number of people leaving their roles voluntarily has risen year-on-year. There’s a wide range of reasons that someone might leave and research suggests that not everyone is unhappy in their roles, they may simply leave to focus on personal growth, career development or because they’ve experienced burnout in their current career path.
The top three reasons for leaving a job are a lack of flexibility, an unsuitable salary and a bad company culture. All of these reasons highlight the shift in attitude towards work occurring in the current climate and how employees are driving for equal work-life balance while better understanding their market value.
But why do people take longer breaks in their careers? The two most common factors are stress and anxiety. Many people leave work to focus on their health, particularly if they work in a stressful industry or have experienced a toxic work environment.
Similarly, many people leave for both personal and professional development. Many people leave to spend more time with family or even when they’re considering a career change. A career break can be an excellent way of re-evaluating what you’re looking for from work and different industries you might move into.
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How to Get Back to Work After a Career Break
If you’ve taken a step back and are raring to get back into the world of work, don’t worry about feeling overwhelmed! It can be a daunting process, especially if you’re making a radical career change.
To help you through the process, we’ve laid out our top 7 tips for getting back to work after a career break and how you can make the transition much smoother:
1. Re-evaluate your skills and marketability
The first step before you jump back into work is to consider your skill set and how desirable you are as a candidate.
If you’re returning to an industry you’ve worked in previously, chances are you’ll have built up an effective and useful skill set. Take the time to make a list of your most valuable skills and experiences, which you can then present in your job applications. Don’t forget to consider your responsibilities and achievements in this list as this provides great context for potential employers. By completing this exercise, you not only remind yourself of your strengths but also build a better understanding of whether you want to stay in your current career or move on.
If you’ve already decided on a complete career switch, complete the same exercise but think about the skills you have and skills you want to build. This can help you narrow down potential new career paths and allow you to see what aligns with your expectations.
2. Lay out your expectations
Once you understand your skill set, think about your ideal job. By setting your expectations, you can get a better idea of what new role might satisfy you. Think about working hours, potential for hybrid working, desirable salaries, workplace environments, benefits and the culture you’d be happy working in.
While it’s unlikely you’ll find a role that perfectly fits every criterion, this exercise is a great way of narrowing the playing field and getting a better grasp of what you’re looking for. Taking the time to work out all of this information also allows you to understand exactly what you prioritise in work, which informs potential career paths or roles you might take on.
3. Take your time!
While we understand that being out of work is a stressful experience, it’s not a process you want to rush. If you left work voluntarily, take the time to consider why exactly you left before jumping into a role that might lead to the same outcome.
Be honest with yourself and reflect on exactly what you’re looking for and what you’ve learned. This is particularly true if you had a negative experience before your break. You may use this time to narrow down what’s important to you, elements of work you enjoy and parts you don’t.
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A career break can be a great time to learn new skills and expand your knowledge. We’d all love to keep pushing our career development while also working but the reality is, there often isn’t enough hours in the day.
If you’ve always wanted to learn a new skill or build your understanding of a certain profession, a career break is the perfect window to get started. Research educational courses, programs or seminars that can help you learn.
This is particularly important if you’re thinking about a career change but remember, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. A career break can be a stressful time as it is and you don’t need to make things worse by adding the expectation of reinventing yourself into the mix.
5. Reach out to former colleagues or peers
We’ve already gone through the importance of networking in the world of work but reaching out to old colleagues or acquaintances during a career break is a great way to make the transition smoother.
While there are plenty of ways to find a role online through social media and job boards, there’s always a chance that an old team member you worked with has the perfect vacancy in mind for you.
Leveraging your network is crucial at all stages of your career and the recommendations that an old colleague can provide may be the ideal way back into the world of work.
6. Update your CV
Whether you’re returning to an industry you know or taking the plunge into something entirely new, you’ll need a CV. Make sure that your resume is bang up-to-date with all of your work history, skills and previous responsibilities. Take the time to tailor your CV to the industry you’re moving into and if possible, even the role that you’re applying for.
Something else to keep in mind is that you’ll want to address the break in employment either within your CV or during the interview process. Likely, an employer will at least ask about this so take the time to prepare an answer and be honest. If you’d rather not mention why you took the career break, assure them that it was for personal reasons but you’re eager to get back into work and demonstrate this by highlighting your preparation.
7. Work with a Recruitment Agency
We all know that a career break – and the consequent job search – is a stressful time, which is why it’s so important to have support. Working alongside a recruitment agency is a great way of taking pressure off your shoulders and opening yourself up to a much wider network of potential roles, employers and even new industries.
Here at AD Offshore, for example, we have a deep understanding of the Jersey and Guernsey job markets, which allows us to measure your suitability for certain sectors or roles and provide opportunities accordingly.
You may not realise how your current skill set fits a particular job but we do, which is why working with us is so beneficial.