Returning to work after a period off can be daunting. Research shows around 90,000 people in the UK take a career break every year for various reasons, from raising a family or caring for an aging relative, to travelling the world, all experiences which create new skills and knowledge. But how do you turn this to your advantage when trying to get back into work?
The labour market may have changed, employer’s expectations may have changed, or you may be up against people who’ve stayed in work and have more recent experience.
We work with tens of thousands of people every year who successfully get back into work after time away. Here’s some of our top tips on how to get back into work.
Before you return to work, have a think about your career and life goals. For example, if you have a young family to look after, will you need a job that allows flexible and remote working? What responsibilities have you enjoyed in the past? What are you really good at? What are you not so good at? Understanding your strengths will help make sure you put your best foot forward.
Networking is a great way to find out about who’s hiring and where the local jobs are. Talking to your friends, family, people in your community, will help you learn about key employers in your area, and you may even find out about vacancies that haven’t been advertised (known as ‘hidden jobs’). You never know where your questions might lead!
Better still, the connections you develop might lead to a recommendation. A recommendation can help put you ahead of the competition.
CEO of Ingeus’s Employment Services, Julie Graham, provides some great tips on how to get the most out of networking from home, in her recent blog - How to network successfully… Remotely.
Updating your CV is really important to make sure it reflects your latest skills and experiences. Make sure your CV matches the role you are applying for too, make it easy for the employer to spot what a great fit you are! We have some great blogs with tips on how to make your CV stand out online and how to achieve a great cover letter.
LinkedIn is a great place to boost your profile and network with a wider group of people. If you’ve not got an account, get one started – you could ask a friend or family member to help. If you’re already on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is up-to-date and shows off your skills and experience. Don’t forget to connect to people you know, and get involved with the wide range of content available, from posts to courses. You can also put a special update on that you’re looking for work – making you stand out to employers looking to recruit.
Creating a stand-out CV and cover letter is the first stage of getting the job, the next stage is nailing the interview.
Following a career break, it’s completely natural to feel nervous and for your interview skills to be a little rusty. Practise being an interviewee with a friend, family member or partner. You could even record it and listen back to identify questions which you could have answered better. Be prepared for your potential employer to ask you about your career break, including the reasons as to why you took a break and if relevant, what you did during this time.
Make sure you research the company, its values, and the role you’re applying for to show that you’re keen and interested. Reviewing an employer’s news updates on their website, exploring their social media channels and looking at employee feedback can give you a better understanding of the company and future plans. Take a look at our blog which provides great tips on questions to ask at your interview.
Your local Jobcentre Plus can help you with your job search and keep you updated on vacancies in your area. You can also get free access to computers and Wi-Fi to apply for positions. If you meet eligibility criteria, your Jobcentre work coach may be able refer you to a specialist employment programme which provides even more support to help you get back into work, from practical courses to health and wellbeing support. Ask your Jobcentre what programmes are available in your area. Find out more about our employment programmes.
Returning to work after a career break may be challenging, but with the right preparation, you’ll get the confidence and knowledge to succeed!