Did you know that there are more than one lakh searches each month on variations of the phrase ‘Career Reboot’? Does that make you feel better? – to know that you’re not the only one trying to return to work after a career gap? At indePenn, we speak to at least ten women every week who would like to end their career gap but are not sure as to where to start. Some of the question we hear are, “can I get back to work after a 6-year career gap?” (The number changes from person to person, but the question is the same), and “will anyone consider me, given my career gap?”, and “when can I start working?”
As we said in a previous post (Rebegin your professional journey), many companies are willing and eager to welcome returning women – with a caveat.
The first point to understand about career gaps is that they are not uniform. Some people have many years of work experience and a short break. They may have kept in touch with the industry through their network or by reading extensively or by writing about their subject as thought leaders – these breaks are really better called sabbaticals.
Others have a few years of experience and a long break, where they have focused on other dimensions of their life. For this group, a fair amount of work is required to become on par with their peers.
A few companies understand the reality – a long career gap means that skills need to be rebuilt and self-confidence needs to be restored. These companies have designed cohort-based holistic programmes. However, these programmes start on a strict schedule which does not suit every returning woman. Again, of necessity, these programmes are not tailor-made to the individual, and the approach is “one-size fits twenty returning women”.
Most companies, on the other hand, expect that if a woman is keen to return to work after a career gap, she should have done her homework, identified the skills that are in-demand and upskilled herself. All they’re willing to do is to not ask you why you took a break.
Given this wide difference in approach across the industry, how do you approach this ‘return to work’ journey? We offer you three tips that make this journey exciting!
Identify an area of work that appeals to you and is a skill / job of the future – something that is likely to have plenty of scope for the next 5 years. Learning and certifications are easily accessible online – make the best of them, so that you can confidently demonstrate your familiarity with the subject. We advocate ‘Reternships’ to gain hands-on experience in your domain – this will also help you build the discipline to be at work through the day and plan for your other responsibilities.
Rebuild your confidence
How do you see yourself? – as a professional woman ready to return, who has prepared herself? indePenn helps our members do this through many webinars and online workshops. Pay attention to grooming, preparing a short introduction of yourself and above all your self-image.
Own your Career Gap
These are intensely personal, but more often than not, an interviewer will ask you for your reasons. To answer this gracefully, prepare your answer beforehand. When you have at least three answers scripted and rehearsed, you’ll find it easy to sail through this part of an interview. (See this post – Sailing through Interviews – after a career break).
If you’re already a reader of our blog or follow us on social media, you know that indePenn coaches and prepares women on a career break to rebegin their professional journey and build a second career. We bring women back to work!
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