How To Get Back Into Work After A Career Break

Career breaks happen for all kinds of reasons; you might have chosen to stay at home to raise children, for example, or because you wanted to travel for a while. You might have been ill and not able to work, or perhaps you have been searching for – and studying for – an entirely new career. Whatever the reason, when the time comes to get back into work after a career break, it can be hard to do so. 

It won’t be impossible, however. There are a number of things to think about first, but once you have them all in mind and you are proactive in your search, a new job will be much easier to find. Read on to find out how to get started. 

dream career working from home laptop business
via Andrea Piacquadio @ pexels

Take Stock

Before you begin looking for and applying for a new job, it’s a good idea to step back and take stock of your current situation. This will help to guide you towards the kind of job that will suit you best; the last thing you want to do is get a new job and then discover that it isn’t suitable at all. 

Think about the reasons you stopped working in the first place, and use that as a basis for your return. If it was to have children, do you need a job that will be flexible around childcare, for example, and perhaps offers the chance to work from home? If it was due to an illness or recovery after an accident, will you need additional support in the workplace, or will you require a part-time job to begin with? This will all need to be taken into account, as it will affect the positions you can apply for. 

This is your perfect chance to find the ideal career for you, so if you didn’t enjoy what you were doing before, you can look for something different. If you did enjoy it, you could return to it. The great thing about returning to work in this fashion is the choice. You can:

  • Have the same career you had before
  • Do the same job in a different industry
  • Do a different job in the same industry
  • Do a completely different job in an entirely new industry 

There is a lot of choice, so make the most of your chance to do something you are really excited about. 

Gain Extra Skills

study from home laptop - online summer school

When you intend to go back to work after a break, you should be realistic about your skills and experience. You may have worked in your profession for a number of years before stepping away, but in the time that you have been gone, all kinds of changes may have happened. 

If you have been away for a long time (or even a relatively short time in some professions such as computing, for example), it is always going to be worth taking a refresher course of some kind. Local schools, universities, or adult education centers will often run classes like this, and if you can’t find something there, then reach out via networking – either in person or on social media – to find out what other options are open to you. An additional qualification for your resume will not only help you get an interview but will give you more confidence too. 

Update Your Resume

Your resume is going to be extremely important when it comes to securing a new job after years away from your industry. It is likely that yours is going to be very out of date if you have one at all, so you will need to spend time working on this to get it just right. Often it can be useful to have an expert help you. Your resume is so important to get right that paying for someone else to write it for you – with your input, of course – can be money well spent. 

There is going to be a gap in the career section of your resume. A short line that explains you were on a career break, along with the dates, should be enough to fill in the missing part. Don’t just leave it blank, as you’ll need to explain it during an interview anyway. Of course, if you did anything relevant during your time off, write that in – you might have done ad hoc work for your child’s school, or for a neighbor, or learned how to deal with IT issues, for example. Don’t add things that aren’t relevant, however, or it will simply look as though you are trying to fill the gap.

Seek Advice

Interview - Job - Translating your CV Resume

Going back to work after a long time can be very daunting, and you might have no idea where to even start looking. This is where seeking advice can be a useful idea; find out what you can from recruiters and ex-colleagues or others who are working in the industry you want to work in or get back into. You can also read industry magazines and attend conferences. 

Get a good picture of what is happening and what is required of those who work in the industry you are interested in. Not only will this make you feel more prepared, but you will have a better understanding of what you are heading for, and you will be more confident during an interview. 

Set Goals

Having the goal of ‘returning to work’ is good, but it is also extremely broad, which can be problematic. It means that you don’t have any specifics to work to and also that you leave too many unanswered questions, making the entire situation much more difficult to deal with. 


Set smaller goals that are easier to attain instead. Start with your qualifications, then your resume. Then look at researching your industry. Next, put your details on job sites and start searching. Take your time and be patient; it can feel as though you are not getting anywhere, and that is frustrating, but if you are patient and work methodically, you will get there in the end, and you will be sure that wherever it is, it is where you want to be.

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