There are a variety of reasons why people take a career gap. Maybe you had family commitments or needed to take care of your own health. Your industry might have gone through a massive change, and you needed time to reassess your skills and what you want to do next.
Regardless of the reason, it’s important not to beat yourself up about it – everyone needs some time off once in a while! In fact, a career gap is unlikely to ruin or even hurt your career if you’re strategic about it.
If you’re diligent enough to use your time productively to stay updated on the latest skill sets of your desired field, you’ll certainly not be as disadvantaged as you think you would be.
So, how can you restart your career and get back into the workforce? We gather some effective tips on how to get back to work after a long break to get you started.
1. Explain the gap in employment in your CV
One of the most daunting yet important things to do is to explain your employment gap in your resume.
It is important to keep your CV updated. If you’ve only been on a career break for less than six months, you may want to omit that information in your CV. But if you’ve been out of the workforce for more than six months, then it’s a good idea to explain what you’ve been busy with during that time.
Do not be too worried that taking a career break might hinder your job application, even if it has been longer than six months. Just be clear about how you’ve spent your time productively during the career break to demonstrate your willingness to learn and keep busy.
If you had done your due diligence to upskill yourself by picking up specific skills during this period, your hiring manager will be impressed with your initiative and will be compelled to consider you more favourably because of your positive attitude.
Hence, you should highlight the important skills that you’ve learnt during the career gap in your CV. You might have attended some online courses to pick up new skills, or become better at multitasking and communicating ever since you became a new parent. Remember to only share what is relevant to your future employer. Don’t overshare in your CV, and leave the details for your interview.
2. Join career coaching consultancies
There are many career consultancies that help and support job seekers secure a job. Government organisations offer learning credits as well as free career coaching and job search services to citizens. WSG’s Career Matching Services is a complimentary service that connects job seekers with career guidance professionals, providing advice and support for their job search and career transition efforts. WSG’s Career GRIT provides resources such as virtual seminars, webinars, and information for walk-in interview events for job seekers of any career stage. The NTUC Learning Hub also offer webinars with hiring companies, upskilling programmes and speed interviews to increase your chances of securing a job.
Beyond getting help from career coaches, you can even consider reviving your connections with your ex-colleagues or former managers to ask for mentorship opportunities or job search help.
3. Be prepared to have a lower job title and salary
If you were a manager before your career break two years ago, picking up the work momentum from where you left off isn’t going to be easy. The world of work changes rapidly – over two years, many companies could have fast-tracked their digital transformation plans or restructured the business.
This doesn’t mean you won’t have job opportunities at all. However, you may need to be prepared to settle for a lower job title and salary. Instead of beating yourself up over it, take this as a good opportunity to ease yourself back into the workforce.
A higher job title and salary typically means more work responsibilities. And after being absent for a couple of years, the last thing you want is to work on projects or with technology that you are unfamiliar with.
4. Give contracting jobs a try
If you’re finding it difficult to get back into full-time employment, why not consider contracting jobs or project-based work?
Contracting jobs give you the opportunity to work on different projects which can help refresh your skills and knowledge that might have become rusty while you were on a career break. In the process of refreshing your skills, you may also gain new ones that you can transfer to your next full-time job.
Compared to full-time jobs with an endless to-do list, project-based contract work tends to have fixed deliverables and outputs, making them more manageable. It is also easier for you to negotiate for shorter working hours, especially if you’re a parent who needs more time to care for your children.
Contracting jobs are also ideal for those looking to test the waters before diving back into full-time work. It can be a great way to gauge if you would need more time to adjust or reconfigure your work-life balance. This will help ease you back into the routine of working and lessen the chances of you feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Rejoin the workforce today
Throwing yourself back to work after taking a career break can feel disorienting. However, that should not deter you from doing so.
Many employers are also hiring professional contractors to retain some level of agility and flexibility in their workforce budgets, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to choose from. Furthermore, if you feel that you’re still not ready to go back to work full-time after your contracting stint, you can always choose to take on another contract role to further deepen your skills, or take an extended break.
If you’re considering returning to work, there’s no better time than now to restart your new career.
This article is contributed by Randstad Singapore.