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7 tips for returning to work after a career break

March 23, 2023

Research and upskilling will yield rewards

From Seasonedpros.ca Insights Lab

  • Review your career
  • Frame the story of your break
  • Research the sector/industry you are targeting
  • Create a new resume
  • Update your skills
  • Reach out to your network and use LinkedIn
  • Register with a talent agency

People take career breaks for many reasons. Parental leave is common for couples with young families. 

Some take a career break to go back to university or to travel. Others might experience a health issue or have an older family member who needs care.

Whatever the reason, it can be intimidating to get back to the structured nine-to-five workplace after a break of two years or more.

Before you start applying for jobs, it is important to do some research and make a return plan for yourself.

Here are 7 tips for going back to work:

  1. Conduct a career audit – Step back and look at the jobs you have done in your career. Assess your skills, interests and strengths. Ask yourself if you want to return to your old career or transfer your skills to something else. Decide how and where you want to work. Contract or full-time? Remote, hybrid or in an office setting. Identify your values and the type of company culture you’d like to work in. 
  2. Build a story about your break – Decide how you want to talk about your career break. It doesn’t have to be negative. In fact, your career break story could be an asset if you position it the right way.
  3. Review the sector or industry you are targeting – Are there any changes in the technology or industry trends?  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) are new movements affecting many businesses. Is the average salary appropriate for your education and years of experience?
  4. Update your skills – Understand what skills the sector needs. Take courses to upskill or reskill. Many online courses are available and some offer certification. This will be valuable in your job search and interviews.
  5. Create a new resume – Many employers are looking for resumes that emphasize the skills developed in previous work rather than just job titles and sector-based experience. Start with a short profile and follow with bullet points that highlight your strengths. Consider preparing a graphic resume with colours, images and links. The online graphic tool Canva is a good resource.
  6. Activate your network and use LinkedIn – Tell your friends and former colleagues that you are looking for work. Let them know what kind of work and ask if they have any ideas or leads. Join professional organizations and attend webinars and in-person events to gain insights into the sector you’re targeting. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool. Consider posting your thoughts and let your online network know that you are hunting for a job.
  7. Register with talent agencies –  Find organizations that curate talent databases to match candidates with hiring employers who are looking to fill job vacancies. You might start with a contract on a fractional or interim basis. 

Approach your return-to-work journey as a full-time job. You will benefit by developing a plan, doing your research, networking and staying positive in your search. The economy is experiencing talent shortages and many organizations will be happy to have you and your skills.

SeasonedPros.ca is an on-demand business talent source. Clients with an immediate need for experienced talent trust us to source professionals for project, interim and fractional roles. Each professional in our national database has 20 + years of business experience. We provide our clients 2-4 four vetted professionals in 10 business days or less.

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