According to a LinkedIn survey conducted in 2022, around 78% of working women said that they take career breaks to improve their well-being, plan career changes and boost their confidence at work. But finding a job after a career break is tough, primarily because of the tremendous stigma associated with it among recruiters and employers.
When I spoke to Sneha in early 2021, she had had a ten-year break after working for 7 years. She was keen to restart her career and had posted her old résumé on several portals that were geared towards “finding jobs for women on career break”. But there was no response. She finally did get an interview call, but it didn’t work out as she had no experience or even familiarity in the areas that the interviewers talked about.
Sneha discussed this at length with her husband, her brother and a couple of their friends and each of them offered their suggestions and recommendations on job oriented courses. women on a career break should ideally do. But obviously, each of them had a different idea and spoke from their experience with career break and return programmes in their own companies. It was confusing to say the least, but Sneha was open to trying.
She picked a course that sounded interesting and signed up. The first couple of weeks, she said, were fine. She could understand the material in the video lectures and submit her assignments. But in week three, the course moved on to more complex concepts that she had trouble understanding. She watched the video lecture a few times, but the concept was still fuzzy. Naturally enough, she couldn’t complete the assignment. She tried reaching out to the friend who had recommended the subject and the course to ask for help, but he was travelling.
After trying a few more times, she put the programme on hold. And was never able to get back to it.
Did you know that “as many as 9 in 10 women use their time off to learn new skills and boost their employability”? Or…, I should say, they try.
Sneha hit the reset button on her learning programme and decided to restart. We identified a programme that had contact sessions as well as online programmes. I found a guide who supported her with a couple of sessions, that clarified doubts and bridged the gap in the material – experts often assume that students following the video lectures can navigate the content, but we find that most students get stuck at some point or the other. It is reassuring for students to know that they can reach out to ask questions, so that they can move forward effectively.
Sneha sailed through her upskilling programme, the second time around. In addition, she had attended several programmes designed by indePenn, to rebuild her confidence and self-esteem. She learnt to craft and deliver an elevator pitch that she also used in her all-star LinkedIn profile, which in turn allowed her to reconnect with former colleagues, classmates, and customers. Many of them became active champions and references in her quest to find a job after her career break.
This time, when she applied for a job, she had no trouble with the interview – she was familiar with the terms used, she had projects that she could use to explain her approach and answers and above all, she was confident and comfortable interacting with the interviewers.
Sneha now works for a global company and is eagerly looking forward to an early promotion.
Did you know – “80% of returning women wish for ways that could help them answer interview questions about their career breaks in an appropriate way”?www.indePenn.com
indePenn helps women on a career break returning to work, to prepare themselves for these and other questions and present themselves as confident professionals.
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