Returning to Work After a Career Gap

By: Guest Author

Published: September 15, 2021

Written By Ainsley Lawrence- Guest Contributor

Taking a break from your career may be essential for various reasons. For example, you could be a stay-at-home parent, assuming the responsibility of caring for a sick loved one, healing after a divorce, taking some time to travel, changing careers, opening a business, or another circumstance. Whatever your reason is for your break in the work world, at some point, you may be ready to jump back in.

Simply put, returning to your career after a break can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you can reenter the workforce fiercely with some thorough prep work, an open mind, an intense focus on the positive things, and intention. Here are six actionable tips for re-entering the workforce after a career gap.

Ensure Your Mind and Heart are Ready

Reentering the workforce successfully starts with internal empowerment. If you aren’t mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to return to work, your drive and motivation may diminish when things are going slower than you expected. Therefore, it’s crucial to ready your insides for the journey to reentry.

You can ensure your mind and heart are ready by being honest with where you are right now and where you want to go. You may need to enlist the help of a counselor to do so, but healing after trauma or refocusing after a life-changing event is vital to getting back to work. All in all, you want to have a good relationship with yourself before getting back to your career to ensure longevity.

When your mind and heart are ready to return to work after a career gap, you can begin to make sound decisions that make the journey smoother, like bettering your education.

Better Your Education First

You may feel like your skills are a bit dated the longer your career gap has been. When companies you’re interested in require skills you don’t possess, it can be defeating. Bettering your education before jumping into your career search can help you attain those necessary skills.

First, take a look at your financial situation and see what educational opportunities are available to you. For example, can you afford a traditional four-year education? Is a certification course more affordable and equally sufficient? Are community college classes more appropriate? Then, depending on your answers to these questions, explore institutions that can teach you the skills you’re looking for. Also, ensure the educational institution you choose supports nontraditional students and has resources dedicated to them.

Even if you don’t want to go the traditional education route, it’s still a good idea to polish your skillset somehow.

Polish Your Skillset

You’ve likely learned a lot in your career gap and before it. Many of those skills can be transferred to your desired position. So, polish these skills and leverage them to return to a previous career or change to a new one.

If the traditional education route isn’t desirable, polish your skillset by pursuing new experiences. Observe what a job entails by job shadowing. It may be a quick process, likely one day to a week tops, but you’ll learn about what it will take to be successful. Another idea is to get some hands-on experience through an internship. Interning for a company can last anywhere from a few months to a year. You’ll gain experience in the work that you would do in the position you’re interested in.

When you’ve got a handle on your skillset and education, take some time to create the career search documents you’ll need.

Take Time to Create the Tangibles

You’re going to need the work world tangibles once you’re ready to return to work after a career gap. Of course, the top documents are your resume, cover letter, and references. Ensure that they’re all created with professional quality standards in mind.

Polish your resume by organizing it with the most relevant work experiences and skills at the forefront. Ensure it discusses the achievements that prove you’re a highly qualified candidate, even if you attained them outside of work. You should explain how well you performed a task rather than what your responsibilities were. For instance, if you’ve been a homemaker for the last 18 years and you want to get into project management, instead of:

“Successfully raised four children as a stay-at-home mom the last 18 years.”

Show the value of that by writing:

“Sent four children to college and supported my husband’s climb to partner at a law firm by maintaining an organized household, creating and sticking to a detailed budget, and deepening my relationships with my children and partner through active listening and solution-oriented conversation.”

Also, create an excellent cover letter template with a bit of guidance from Google that helps you further explain the achievements listed in your resume. Finally, ensure you have a few references that you can call on when asked to provide them and take some time to polish your interview skills.

When you flesh out your resume, create a cover letter template, identify reliable references, and take your interview skills to the next level, you can confidently dive into your job search.

Be Creative in Your Job Search

After all of your prep work, it’s time to start looking for suitable positions. Job search engines are a great starting point but don’t be afraid to get creative in your hunt for the right career and company. For example, tap into your network to leverage personal recommendations at fitting companies. Or, create a new profile or use your existing one on social media platforms to network with other job seekers and learn about companies looking to fill positions.

Ultimately, even with an intentional job search, it may take some time to find the right career path and company for you. Prepare for a journey when returning to work after a career gap, not a short race. Adopt the mindset that it’s never too late to follow your dreams and be okay with the time it takes to achieve them.

Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. You can follow her on Twitter @AinsleyLawrenc3


The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.