Taking a career break is ultimately seen by some people as an opportunity to recharge or reassess career aspirations. However, be aware of the challenges it can also create should you be looking to re-enter the workforce at a later date.
Regarding any career break, whether it be related to maternity leave or a general break from your career, this can create challenges when you’re ready to return to the workforce. Regarding maternity leave, even though there are strict legislation around direct or indirect discrimination relating to mothers returning to work after maternity leave, certain companies still do err on the side of caution when considering these candidates; whether we like it or not or agree. The reasons for these, sometimes, misplaced concerns are explained below.
A career break can raise concerns around current and/or relevant work experience in the industry or one’s ability to respond to current issues. On top of that, when employers consider candidates whom decided to take a career break to ‘re-evaluate’ their career aspirations and then chose to return to the workforce, similar concerns around ‘commitment’ and ‘drive’ surface. Again, whether or not there is any truth to the concerns or whether or not we agree with this thinking, these can be the prevalent thoughts plaguing a recruiter.
So how does someone who is planning a break (and intending on returning to the workforce) or going on maternity leave prepare themselves for their likely return? Stay connected. The below tips suggest ways that an individual can keep a ‘foot’ so to speak in the workforce door and increase the chances of a successful transition back to work.
- Stay in touch. Whether it be planned Long Service Leave or a general hiatus from your career, if you intend on returning to your employer or the workforce in general, stay in touch. For workers on leave, keep in contact with HR. Ask HR to email you any newsletters, notices, memos and staff invites to events. If you have resigned but plan on coming back to the workforce, still have your toes in the water within your chosen career or industry. Do this by staying connected via industry groups, magazine subscriptions and forums.
- Maintain your knowledge. As above, even though you may not be actively working in the field, stay connected and maintain your industry knowledge via relevant industry groups and forums such as on LinkedIn. Subscribe to relevant industry magazines to stay alert to industry trends and changes. Even attend any networking events that may interest you if you have the capacity.
- Research employers. Now we know the whole point of going on leave was to get away from work…however perhaps plan into your final months/days of your career break, some research time into your current employer or potential employers you are keen to consider for your return. Why? As mentioned above, employers may be weary of you being in touch with current trends and opportunities and coupled with their current issues, they will want to know how you can respond to these issues, whilst being on the pulse of market innovations or trends.
- Build your Networks. As above, the best way to say connected is through your networks and connections and to leverage off their current industry knowledge. Prior to going on leave or a break, we would advise to start building your connections and prior to coming back, connect with them and pave the way for your return. Now when we say ‘connect’ we don’t mean harass and bombard your connections with questions around what, who, when, why. We suggest you develop a clear communication strategy and get in touch via a general message announcing your return from break, being courteous and asking how your connections have been during your time away and confirm that you hope to cross paths with them in the near future. A message like this can kill two birds with one stone; 1) you can get some valuable insight into how your connections have been and hence…the industry and 2) you have announced your return and availability to consider new opportunities. Your connections may know of said opportunities and could kick start your transition back to the workforce for you.
The above tips will hopefully give you some food for thought on what to do prior, during and after your career hiatus and will hopefully make the transition smoother minus the obstacles.
The team at Winning Edge Resumes