Entering the workforce after a career break can be intimidating. No matter how long you’ve been away from your role or the reasons for your break, trying to ‘fill in the gaps’ in your resume is stressful. While taking a career break may seem like a roadblock to career progression, it can be a very good opportunity to learn new skills and gain a better insight into what you want out of your next job.

This is the perfect time to regroup and bring your very best self to your next job interview. If you’ve had a short-term or long-term career break, the way you approach your job hunt is everything. Here are a few helpful steps you can take to ensure you get hired no matter the circumstances of your break.

1. Stay up-to-date

With today’s ever-changing technology it’s a good idea to look at your industry and see if there’s a way you can upskill before applying for a job in the field. Learn how you can stay up to date in your field by searching online and paying attention to job ads to see what employers are looking for in a candidate. If you notice your job now requires up-to-date knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite, for example, see if you can learn this program at home or through a community course.

Up-skilling will not only make you a better candidate, but will also improve your confidence. Using websites such as LinkedIn is a great way to keep up-to-date with industry changes and to network with individuals in your field. Seek out newsletters, browse online discussions, and do whatever you can to polish your existing skills and make them job-ready.

2. Reflect on what you’ve learned during your break

While on first reflection you may not think you’ve picked up any worthwhile skills during your time off, look closer and you may find that you actually have learned a number of skills that can transfer onto your resume. If you volunteered your time in the community or participated in a work experience program, potential employers will find this very worthwhile.

Did you do some nannying? Write a book? Learn a language? List any skills or hobbies that have helped improve your work experience and learning onto your resume. If your son helped teach you to master Photoshop, great! Add this to your list of skills.

Don’t underestimate the advantages of starting a social media account or creating your own blog; it all counts toward getting hired. These hobbies show you’ve continued learning and improving on your skill-base while off work, helping to keep you employable.

3. Update your resume and tailor your cover letter

Since you’ve been away from the workforce your resume most likely needs updating. Before sending it off with your next application, think about going over it and making any changes. If you’re struggling to fill in the blanks, consider seeking the help of a professional resume writer or the assistance of your local employability office. Most employment services offer help with writing resumes and cover letters. List down all the new skills you’ve picked up, new technologies learned, and make sure your contact details are up-to-date.

4. Learn a new skill

It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Whether it’s a language, computer coding, or job interview skills, all of these will make you a more well-rounded candidate for your next potential job. Check local community guides and see what workshops and training events are available in your area. These are often short courses – a couple of hours long – and will provide you with industry-ready skills you can put on your resume and mention at your next job interview.

5. Do an online course

Today many colleges and universities offer online courses that are flexible for those who are working or don’t have the time to attend physical classes. Most of these courses are designed to be completed ‘at your own pace’, making them great for those coming back from a career break.

Think about choosing a course that’s relevant to your field of work or in an area that you wish to be in. This is a good way to fill in any gaps in your resume, as it shows a potential employer that you’re still committed to learning and will be bringing valuable skills into the workplace.

6. Improve your self-confidence

Finding work can be a real blow to your self-esteem if you’re faced with frequent knock-backs or missing out on a dream job. Use this time to regain your self-confidence by reading helpful books on self-improvement, participating in hobbies and activities that make you feel good, and by practising mindfulness techniques and meditation.

Improving self-confidence allows you to be okay if you don’t find yourself in the situation you’d like to be in or if you’re turned down in a job application. Being confident in yourself will allow you to feel self-worth no matter the circumstances you’re in and will attract potential employers due to your ‘can-do’ attitude and the positive way you carry yourself.

7. Volunteer

Volunteering is a really great way to become more employable after a career break. Not only does it provide you with new skills, but it also allows you to network, add experience, and impresses potential employers. Give back to your local community by finding a volunteering opportunity in your area.

8. Be open to new opportunities

There might be a time where you’re given an opportunity that may not be what you envisioned. This is a good time to not be too picky and to welcome any opportunity that may be presented to you. Any job offer will at least give you a foot in the door and back into the workforce. You may even find that the job you didn’t expect to get turns out to be the job you always dreamt of! Looking at this as a new start is a good way to make the situation easier and less stressful. Enjoy and trust the process, because before you know it, you’ll find yourself back at work in a more positive way!

Where to start?

If you’re looking at getting back into the workforce, you’re going to need to do some searching about your employment options. Have a look at our list of Employment Options from Ability Options to help you get back into work with your fresh skills and new perspectives.

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