I know how difficult and daunting it can be returning to work after a break. You may have absolutely no idea of where to begin or have your dream job lined up but not sure how to go about achieving this. Follow my tips and advice to help you take the first steps back into work.
Focus on the positivesFirstly, you need to be prepared to answer the question about the reason for the gap in employment. If you have taken time out to care for a family or a loved one do not under estimate the value of the skills developed whilst raising a family that are in high demand by recruiters. If the reason for the gap was due to travelling, employers don’t mind this but what they want to see is what you got from this and the skills you developed.
Volunteering and part time working
It may be unrealistic to jump straight back into full time work after a significant gap. Think of getting back into work as a series of small stepping stones. Consider volunteering for a few hours a week and build upon this and part time working and fixed term contracts can be the ideal opportunity to get your foot in the door with an organisation. Begin your search with charities or companies that you are really interested in working for and make contact. You will soon find that you will increase in confidence and it will give you a better idea about the types of long term careers you will want to pursue.
Enrol on a course
Recruiters always want to see that time taken out from work has been used wisely. There are a number of courses with local colleges or training providers that can give you chance to brush up on your skills including IT, maths, English and employability. A lot of these courses can be part time or evenings to fit around commitments and often aimed at learners who have not been in education for some time. Another positive is that some of these courses may also be free or at a reduced course for individuals out of work, so make the most of this time.
Update your CV and letter
Once you have identified what you want to do you can begin your applications. Ensure all CVs and letters are up to date with the appropriate contact information. Where possible explain in brief in your application the reason for the gap as this may give the recruiter the opportunity to discount you before you have even got to interview. Another option is to ignore the gap altogether – instead of writing the usual chronological CV, you can use a skills-based one, emphasising the experience and qualities that make you stand out and which are particularly appropriate to the job you’re applying for.
Be open minded to opportunities
I would say the most important thing I learnt after I graduated is that you need to be open minded to opportunities. By this I mean not to discount a great opportunity due to the job title or the nature of the role itself. Once you are in an organisation you are much better placed to look for jobs internally and even externally, it is absolutely true, that it is much easier to get a job once you have a job!
Melissa is a careers advisor and passionate about helping people to achieve their career goals and increase their employability. She lives in Cheltenham and enjoys travel, cooking and fitness.