Ian Huggett

How long is too long to have not been at work?

Whether you have been off work caring for children, a loved one, changed industries or been unemployed, trying to get back into work after an extended break is never easy. But it is not the be all and end all.  Being out of work for 12 months or more is not necessarily the death of your career due to a change in dynamic of how we work now. Circumstances of your career break have had to be taken into account (i.e. mergers and restructures, full time carers) but within your break, there are steps that you as a candidate, can undertake to help you restart your career:

Think about what you want out of your ‘new’ working life

“Whether you have been off work caring for children, a loved one, changed industries or been unemployed, trying to get back into work after an extended break is never easy. But it is not the be all and end all. There are steps that you as a candidate, can undertake to help you restart your career...“

Before you left, you may have been at the peak of your game, or were starting to make a name for yourself.  Over the time you have been away, your needs and wants for your life may have changed, making this the perfect opportunity for you to reposition yourself, and possibly try something new.

Think about conducting a self-assessment and ask yourself before you start looking for roles. What you are passionate about? What type of hours would you like to work? Do you want progression or a job that entails a lot of pressure? Do you want to go back to what you know or try something new?  This evaluation will help you look for roles that will match your new criteria, give you a clear focus, and stop you from having any regrets.

Update your skills

One of the best ways to bridge your career gap is to have something else to talk about. Updating your skills with a course or undertaking some work experience or volunteer in your chosen interest will do this. Employers will be able to gain a good insight into you and it’s a subtle way of letting them know you’re serious about returning to work.  Just make sure that the experience or certificates are relevant in assisting you within your job search.

Don’t forget your experience and skills before your break are still important, so make sure these are highlighted and visible on your CV. It doesn’t matter how old they are you still achieved them so really emphasise them.

Get networking

If your circumstances for your career break restrict you from being able to update your skills or volunteer, networking is a great way to get back into working life. Reconnect with former work colleagues, updating or creating a LinkedIn profile and connecting with industry members is a productive way of letting the right people know you’re looking for new opportunities.  From this, you could be lucky and land an introduction or meeting, but it is important to be strategic. Look at members who will be influential to you and exploit this connection as much as you can. Be mindful that this will take time, so be patients and active.

Have a good covering letter

Your time out of work is unavoidable, so the quicker it is addressed, the quicker you can move on and focus on the positives. Mention it in your covering letter with a brief and explanation why you took time out and your reasons for wanting to come back. If you are looking to return to the same industry, you can state you’re looking forward to returning to what you love. If you’re looking at change, emphasise you’re excited for a new challenge and that you have considered this in full. Make sure you include when you can start in your letter as some employers may be looking for someone to start as soon as possible. 

The Interview

Again you’re more than likely to be asked by the interviewer about your career gap and your reasons to wanting to return. Try and spend no more than 5 minutes on this, answer honestly and be as positive as you can. If you learnt something new whilst on your break, highlight this. When talking about work before the break focus on the task rather than the time in which it was completed to keep up the positivity.

It is worth noting that employers seek candidates who show willing and are able to do the job, rather than how long you have been away. Some industries are fast paced and forever changing so it can be more difficult to get back in the longer you have been away, but many employers are more interested in the why you left, as everyone’s circumstances are different, and cannot always be helped. As long as you can show off your skills and prove that you are the right person for the job, and have stayed as connected as possible so you are up to date with the latest trends and have good references, you have a good chance of being re-employed.

About Zenopa

Zenopa is a service organisation that’s provides flexible, rapid and effective recruitment solutions within the healthcare industry. Our services include sales, technical advisors, marketing, management and service engineers in Medical, Pharmaceutical, Consumer Healthcare, Dental, Healthcare Communications, Animal Health and Scientific markets. With over 25 years’ experience in the industry, we have built strong relationships with some of the top healthcare companies within the UK as well as Europe, and are able to match to your specific needs and requirements for both permanent and contractual roles.

Our team of recruiters are experts within their field and are on hand to provide support and guidance to both those seeking a new role, and those looking for the best person to drive the company forward. If you would like to find out how we can deliver you solutions to your recruitment solutions, register your details, send us a message,  call us on +44 (0) 1494 818 000 or email enquiries@zenopa.com

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