One of the common advice I am asked as a mentor is ” How do I resume working full-time after a long career break”? I think in today’s fast changing times, the need to keep reinventing your skill-sets and career to stay employable is very relevant and important. This is applicable even more to working women who take a break from working full time to stay employable. While it might not be possible to plan the duration of break always but if you can have a tentative timeline for your break and a comeback plan as well, going back to work would be easier. If you plan to resume your career, you must keep working to build your profile even when you are technically on break or not working full time. There are two parts of restarting career post break.
PART 1 – Things to do while you are on break
Assess if you can work part-time or for few hours while you are on break
This is the best way to maintain continuity in your career and at the same also take care of responsibilities at home. Many companies offer part-time working option for a limited duration. Explore these in your current workplace and while you are making you break and comeback plan. Even if you do not pursue a formal part time working, you can always look for freelancing projects or project based work which allows you to keep in touch with your industry, job function or specialization. Check platforms such as one offered by TATA group tatasecondcareer
Keep working on keeping your skill sets relevant
Irrespective of whether you are taking a break or not, you must work on reinventing and refreshing your professional persona periodically. You need to keep infusing fresh blood and thoughts into your professional persona. World is dynamic and the pace of changes whether on political or technological fronts is increasing day by day. You need to keep refreshing your skill-sets and perspectives. There are so many online education mediums available(for example coursera) to keep refreshing your knowledge.
Keep up to date on your Industry trends and how the wind is blowing
Read about latest news, trends and developments in your Industry/function. Attend seminars and workshops if available. You need to allocate time and do this systematically. The rate at which technology and business disruptions are happening currently and making technology skillsets and employees obsolete, one needs to be in tune with the changes and adapt to the them to remain employable.
Lateral job fulfillment happens mostly through referrals and your former colleagues and larger network plays a big role in this. Networking is an art and this can not be done in one day. Network relationships need to be nurtured over a period to be used when you need them. Even though you are on break, keep in touch with your network in companies where you worked before. Attend college reunions or any meeting where you might be able to network.
PART 2 – Things to consider when you are ready to make a comeback
Be flexible in your job search
When you are looking at restarting your career, you need to be flexible. A long break in career is not seen favorably by recruiters and you would face the hurdle of rejections initially. You need to understand the job market, its requirements and act accordingly. You can utilize service of professional recruiters and resume writers to help you in your job search. You can also target the companies or platforms (such as sheroes) which focus on helping women restart career post long break.
Consider the option of higher studies – PG/MBA/PHD
Good way to gain knowledge, credentials and add value to your profile is to go for higher studies from a reputed institute and re-enter the workforce from there. This route may also be specially useful if one wants to switch career tracks. There are many 1 year MBA programs for experienced professionals offered by IIMs. (such as PGPX by IIMA)
Remember no comebacks are easy and you might face difficulties in the beginning but it is important to have a solid resolve and not give up.Whatever path you may take to restart the career, it is possible to do provided you are ready to persevere, are confident in your abilities and ready to make adjustments.
Here are few online platforms and companies which run focused programs in helping women restart their careers. All the best!
Companies : TATA group – Tatasecondcareer, GE – Restart program , IBM – Bring her back GENPACT – Career 2.0, HUL – Career by choice, Intel – Home to Office, SAP – Stay in touch, Axis Bank – Reconnect, Philips – Back in Game(B.I.G), AV Birla Retail – ENCORE, Capgemini – Career Comeback, Intuit – Intuit again, Goldmansachs- Returnship, L&T – Renew, Target – Back on Target