5 Ways to Make Your Career Comeback a Success

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5 Ways to Make Your Career Comeback a Success

You’ve been on a career break and it’s feeling like the right time to return. What are your thoughts right now? Do you feel excited and motivated to get started again? Do you feel anxious that your skillset might be a little outdated? Are you worried about the competition for roles?

All these thoughts and feelings and more are to be expected. Jumping back onto the career ladder can feel like an enormous step. Whatever your reasons for taking some time out, it is common to feel a lack of confidence and some apprehension about returning.

To help you out, we look at why people find career comebacks difficult, the challenges they face, and how they can overcome difficulties to get to where they want to be.

Career breaks – what’s the issue?

Voluntary career breaks are more the norm than you might expect. Would you be surprised to learn that over 2 in 3 Australian women and nearly 1 in 3 Australian men have taken some time out? The reasons are surprisingly diverse. These include but are not limited to:

  • Parenting and childcare responsibilities
  • Taking care of vulnerable adults and the elderly
  • Travel
  • Retraining and further education
  • Recuperation and recovery from illnesses and injuries

Career breaks vary in length too, with around 5 per cent of Australian workers taking a break of at least 6 months. Despite these facts, many people still lack confidence when talking about their career break. They don’t always feel the pride they should, despite doing something so positive for themselves and others in their lives. It is common to feel anxious, intimidated or to lack confidence about getting reemployed after taking a career break.

Hopefully, you now see that in having taken a career break, you are not alone. Plenty of people before you have done the same and successfully reintegrated into the workforce.

Here are some steps you can take before you launch your comeback that will help you feel strong and confident.

1.   Assess and reassess

Firstly, it is worth stressing that you are not the same person you were before your career break. Some personal growth will almost certainly have happened. You may have learned a lot about yourself, even in a short time.

You will have developed new skills. If not hard skills, then you will have gained soft skills that are vital for the modern workplace.

Before you throw yourself into the ring, take some time to think.

  • Do you want to return to the same kind of role? Is it still a good fit for you?
  • What do you want from your career? Have your goalposts changed?
  • Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time, career-wise? Can you see a path that can take you there?

These are all things you need to consider. When you’ve delved deep into exploring these questions, you’ll either realize that you no longer feel certain about picking up on the same career path or that you absolutely know what you want.

Certainty is really important before you take action and apply for roles. This is because hirers can easily pick up on uncertainty in interview situations. Take the time to be certain of what you want.

2.   Frame your career break positively

Whatever your reasons for taking a career break, positive things have come from it. Don’t ever feel that your break isn’t worth mentioning. There are lots of things you may have been doing that make you very hireable.

You don’t need to explain yourself at length but, understandably, potential employers will be interested in what you were up to. Here are some tips.

  • Be succinct.
  • Be honest. Accentuate the positives but don’t exaggerate.
  • If you spent time on education or volunteer work then you should mention these, especially if they are relevant to your career path.

Here are some examples:

  • ‘I took time away from paid employment to start a family, who have now settled into their education.’
  • ‘I took a long-awaited, extended trip to Europe where I worked on my language skills and gained an understanding of other cultures.’
  • ‘I gave myself the time to pursue my personal interests and focus on finding a new career path that better fits my goals.’

3.   Seek help from the right people

If you are returning to a similar role, then you may have an established network of people to turn to. It may work out very well to tap into this; they may know of opportunities around that would suit you.

Conversations with people in your industry can help you regain some confidence as well as pinpoint any gaps in your knowledge or skill set that may need to be filled.

4.   Opt for coaching

For help tailored to your situation, you might want to look into career returners programs that are available with some large employers. These programs will provide you with exactly the support you need to help you readjust back into the workforce while still earning.

You could also look into coaching workshops for career enhancement. Course providers may offer assessment tools to help you identify your strengths and areas to work on. Workshops can then provide you with the tools and the confidence to make a powerful impact, both in an interview situation and in your new post.

5.   Be confident

Be confident and never undervalue what you can offer an employer. Sit down and revise all your skills and strengths, noting them down so you can take a look for an instant confidence boost whenever you need it.

Get up to speed with your industry by reading blogs, listening to podcasts and following relevant organizations on social media. This will help you feel more confident that you know what you’re talking about.

Set yourself up for a strong comeback

Making a great comeback is all about confidence and attitude. Resist the pressure of intimidation and other negative emotions. The right attitude will help you see that a career is a ladder you climb at your own pace, not a race to the top.

By taking the steps above, you will find that you have plenty to offer potential employers and make a great candidate, whether you’ve been out of the job market for months or years.

Featured photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash
Salma El-Shurafa

Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.

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