14 Ways to Get Back to Work After a Career Break

Updated on: by Amy Kennedy
A man going back to work

Embarking on a career break is a pivotal decision that many professionals make for various reasons.

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It might be to raise a family, pursue further education, take care of personal health matters, or explore new ventures.

However, returning to work after such a hiatus can seem like a daunting task.

The professional world may have evolved, technology could have advanced, and your own skills might need polishing.

But fear not, as this journey back to work can be navigated smoothly with the right strategies and mindset.

This blog post will delve into valuable insights and actionable tips on how to successfully reintegrate yourself into the workforce after a career break.

From updating your skills to rebuilding your professional network, you’ll find comprehensive guidance to make this transition a triumphant one.

Reasons to Take a Career Break

Here are some compelling reasons that prompt individuals to embark on a career break and the transformative opportunities each reason presents.

Exploring Various Motivations

Taking a career break is a decision influenced by a multitude of factors. 

For some, it’s a deliberate choice to explore personal passions and interests that couldn’t be pursued while working full-time. 

Whether it’s learning a new instrument, delving into a creative hobby, or even starting a blog on a favorite subject, a career break offers the time and mental space to dive deep into these passions. 

Others may seek a career break to travel and experience diverse cultures, gaining a broader perspective on life and work. 

Exploring different landscapes, cuisines, and languages can enrich your outlook and infuse fresh inspiration into your professional life when you return.

Pursuing Higher Education

Higher education often calls professionals to temporarily step away from their careers. 

Whether it’s obtaining an advanced degree, attending workshops, or enrolling in specialized courses, this pursuit can lead to enhanced skills and expertise in your field. 

Online platforms have made it easier than ever to access education while on a break. 

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You can pursue online certifications that align with your career goals, ensuring you stay updated with the latest industry trends. 

These new skills not only bolster your resume but also reignite your confidence as you prepare to re-enter the job market.

Nurturing Family and Health

Family matters and personal health are compelling reasons for career breaks. 

Parenthood demands time and attention, and a break can provide the necessary flexibility to be present for your family. 

From those precious early years to the school-age phases, being actively involved in your child’s life can make a significant impact. 

Additionally, prioritizing your health during a break can ensure you return to work rejuvenated and ready to contribute effectively. 

You can focus on physical fitness, mental well-being, and adopting a healthier lifestyle, which will not only benefit you but also enhance your productivity in your professional endeavors.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

Entrepreneurial aspirations often drive professionals to take a hiatus. 

Launching a startup or pursuing an innovative business idea requires undivided focus and effort. 

A career break grants the freedom to channel energy into these ventures without the constraints of a traditional job. 

You can dedicate time to market research, building prototypes, securing funding, and establishing your brand’s presence. 

While the entrepreneurial journey is demanding, a well-utilized career break can set the stage for a successful business venture and a new chapter in your professional story.

Overcoming Burnout

In the fast-paced work environment, burnout is a real concern. 

A career break can serve as a vital recovery period, allowing you to recharge both mentally and physically. 

This time away can rekindle your passion for your profession and equip you with a refreshed mindset. 

During your break, you can engage in activities that alleviate stress and promote relaxation. 

Whether it’s practicing mindfulness, engaging in hobbies you love, or simply enjoying quality time with loved ones, these rejuvenating experiences will bolster your resilience and ensure you return to work with renewed vigor.

Caring for Aging Relatives

As life stages change, so do responsibilities. 

Taking care of aging parents or relatives is a noble undertaking that might necessitate a career break. 

Balancing work with caregiving can be challenging, and a break enables you to devote the time and care your loved ones need. 

You can offer invaluable support, manage medical appointments, and create a comfortable and nurturing environment. 

While this phase can be emotionally demanding, it also provides an opportunity to strengthen family bonds and create lasting memories with those you hold dear.

Embracing Personal Development

Sometimes, the pursuit of personal growth requires detachment from the professional realm. 

Be it engaging in spiritual practices, volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about, or honing artistic talents, a career break can provide the space to evolve as an individual. 

Exploring new facets of your identity can be immensely fulfilling. 

Whether you’re volunteering in local communities or embarking on a physical challenge, these experiences contribute to your personal growth and shape a more well-rounded perspective that you can bring back to your career.

How to Get Back to Work After a Career Break

Navigating your way back into the workforce after taking a career break requires a strategic approach and a proactive mindset. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide that outlines key strategies to help you smoothly get back to work after a career break.

1. Self-Assessment and Goal Setting

Start by evaluating your skills, interests, and career ambitions post-break. 

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Determine where your strengths lie and what roles align with your aspirations.

Setting clear goals will guide your job search and help you focus on opportunities that genuinely resonate with your path. 

Consider taking self-assessment tests to gain insights into your personality traits and strengths, which can guide your career decisions. 

Resources like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or StrengthsFinder can offer valuable insights into your professional identity.

2. Skill Enhancement

Assess the skills demanded by your target roles and industry trends. 

Identify any gaps in your knowledge and update your skills through relevant courses or certifications.

Online platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer a wide array of courses spanning various disciplines. 

These courses not only help you acquire new skills but also demonstrate your commitment to professional growth on your resume. 

By staying updated with the latest industry developments, you enhance your competitiveness in the job market.

3. Resume and Online Presence Update

Craft a compelling resume that showcases your career history, skills, and the value you bring. 

Highlight your career break as a time of growth, mentioning any relevant activities such as courses or volunteer work. 

Leverage platforms like LinkedIn to reflect these updates in your online presence. 

Your LinkedIn profile acts as a digital resume, connecting you with potential employers and industry peers. 

Ensure your profile is up-to-date, professional, and aligned with your career goals, making you more discoverable to recruiters and expanding your professional network.

4. Networking

Reconnect with former colleagues, mentors, and industry contacts. 

Inform them of your career break, your intention to rejoin the workforce, and the roles you’re targeting. 

Attend networking events, both virtual and in-person, to expand your circle. 

Engage in discussions on professional platforms like Reddit’s career-focused subreddits or industry-specific forums, where you can share insights and gain valuable advice. 

Networking can provide referrals, information about hidden job opportunities, and a supportive community that understands your journey.

5. Tailored Job Search

Conduct a focused job search based on your self-assessment and skill enhancement efforts. 

Research companies that align with your values and goals. 

Customize your application materials for each position, highlighting relevant experiences and skills. 

Leverage job boards like Indeed or LinkedIn Job Search as well as industry-specific websites and company career pages. 

Tailoring your approach demonstrates your genuine interest in the roles you’re applying for and increases your chances of catching recruiters’ attention.

6. Volunteering and Freelancing

Consider volunteering or taking on freelance projects related to your field during your job search. 

This allows you to gain practical experience, fill gaps on your resume, and stay engaged with your industry. 

Websites like Idealist or Upwork can connect you with volunteer opportunities or freelance gigs. 

Whether it’s contributing to a nonprofit’s marketing campaign or offering your expertise as a consultant, these experiences keep your skills sharp and demonstrate your commitment to staying relevant in your field.

7. Internships or Returnship Programs

Explore returnship programs or internships designed for individuals re-entering the workforce. 

These programs provide a structured transition back to work, often including mentorship, training, and the chance to work on real projects. 

Organizations like Path Forward offer returnship opportunities in partnership with various companies. 

Participating in such programs not only helps you regain your professional footing but also opens doors to potential full-time positions based on your performance and the organization’s needs.

8. Personal Branding

Develop a personal brand that reflects your skills, experiences, and unique qualities. 

Share your insights and expertise through writing articles, giving talks, or participating in webinars related to your industry. 

By consistently sharing valuable content, you position yourself as a thought leader in your field, which can attract the attention of potential employers. 

Platforms like Medium for articles or TEDx for speaking opportunities offer avenues to showcase your expertise and reinforce your personal brand.

9. Interview Preparation

Prepare for interviews by practicing common interview questions and formulating concise responses about your career break. 

Highlight how your break enriched your skills or provided valuable experiences. 

Use the STAR method to structure your answers, emphasizing Situation, Task, Action, and Result. 

Practice with mock interviews or with a trusted friend to build your confidence. 

Research the company and formulate thoughtful questions to ask during the interview. 

Being well-prepared helps you articulate your readiness to contribute effectively to the organization.

10. Confidence Building

Building confidence is essential during your transition back to work. 

Reflect on your achievements, both during your career and your break. 

Recognize the value of the skills you possess and the growth you’ve undergone. 

Embrace positive affirmations and visualize yourself excelling in your new role. 

Surround yourself with supportive individuals who uplift your spirits and provide constructive feedback. 

Confidence is a key asset during interviews and networking interactions, projecting your readiness to tackle challenges and make a meaningful impact in your chosen field.

11. Flexibility and Patience

Flexibility is crucial as you navigate your way back into the workforce. 

The ideal role might not materialize immediately, but staying open to different opportunities can lead to unexpected yet rewarding paths. 

Be prepared to consider part-time positions, remote work, or roles that might slightly differ from your past ones. 

Patience is equally vital – the job search process can take time. 

Maintain a positive attitude, adapt to changes, and trust that your persistence will eventually yield the right opportunity that aligns with your career aspirations.

12. Work-Life Integration

As you re-enter the workforce, consider how your new role fits into your overall life. 

Strive for a healthy work-life balance that allows you to excel professionally while nurturing your personal life. 

Communicate your expectations and needs to potential employers during interviews and negotiations. 

This ensures that the job aligns with your values and priorities. 

Prioritize self-care and manage your time effectively to prevent burnout. 

A harmonious work-life integration fosters longevity in your career and contributes to your overall well-being.

13. Interviewing Your Potential Employers

Job interviews are a two-way street – it’s not just about convincing the employer that you’re the right fit; it’s also about evaluating if the company aligns with your needs. 

Prepare thoughtful questions that shed light on the company culture, work expectations, and support for employees returning from career breaks. 

Inquire about flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, and the potential for growth within the organization. 

This proactive approach ensures that you’re making an informed decision and joining a workplace that values your contributions and supports your continued success.

14. Support System

A strong support system can significantly impact your journey back to work. 

Lean on friends, family, mentors, and professional networks for encouragement, advice, and emotional backing. 

They can provide valuable insights, share their experiences, and offer guidance that can prove instrumental in your job search. 

Join online communities, attend industry events, and seek out local networking groups to expand your circle. 

Engaging with like-minded individuals fosters a sense of camaraderie, reminds you that you’re not alone on this journey, and provides access to resources that can accelerate your re-entry into the workforce.

Wrap Up

In the journey of returning to work after a career break, a purposeful approach is your compass. 

Each step, from self-assessment to resilience, contributes to a seamless reintegration. 

Embrace growth, network strategically, and balance work and life. 

By understanding your unique strengths, adapting with patience, and embracing a strong support system, you pave the way for success. 

Remember, your career break is an enriching chapter that enhances your narrative. 

With determination, the path back to the professional realm becomes a rewarding adventure filled with new opportunities.

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