This is something I hear all the time. People are worried that because they’ve been out of a workplace environment for too long, then their skills won’t be valued, they will have to take a job much lower than they used to do, or that things have moved on too much (people often cite social media!)
So if you’re thinking this, here are my top pieces of advice which should show you’re worth more than you think and that there is an option for everyone!
1) Your skills are very much still valued
I’m a great believer of the fact that you don’t necessarily forget the skills you used in your job. Yes you may be a bit rusty, but you don’t forget how to be an accountant or you don’t forget how to write a Marketing Plan. You can still do the job you were doing before your career break – you just need to convince yourself of that first, before you can convince other people! So read up on the industry news, read relevant websites, meet up with old colleagues, brush up on any new regulations, all to get your head ‘back in the game’ again.
2) “I think I should retrain as the world has moved on so much”
Now, depending on how long your career break has been, I’m not sure the world has moved on that much. Yes there’s social media, new regulations (Hello GDPR!) but often the way of working is still fundamentally the same. So instead of looking at it as ‘retraining’ how about looking at it as ‘upskilling’. Are there any areas you could invest in some additional training? If you’re that worried about social media or digital marketing – there are loads of excellent courses out there (some of which are free!) and, to be honest, if you really put the time in, you can find out a lot of things for free online which you can then put into practice. Have a think about what be useful and see if there is a course, or some sort of training for it.
3) You’ve done more than you think so shout about it!
More and more people are keeping themselves busy over their career breaks, whether it be through starting their own businesses, some volunteering or a social media course such as Digital Mums. This is something you should be shouting about from the rooftops. How amazing is it that not only have you brought humans in the world and raised them, but you’ve also done something ‘on the side’ which has probably meant that you’ve learnt gained skills in marketing, PR, coding, branding, website building, website maintenance, project management, blogging etc etc etc I could go on and on but do you see what I mean – don’t discount what you have learnt on your break – people will love to hear what you’ve been up to
4) Returners’ Programmes
These are programmes put in place by companies, specifically to help people return to work after a career break. Typically they are set-period contracts that enable you to work in your previous area of expertise, but with a high level of support. You are eased in gradually and they are designed with flexible working in mind. If all goes well, they can hopefully lead to a permanent role. These type of programmes are growing in popularity – before 2014 they weren’t even in existence and 2018 saw a record number of returnships being introduced so the future is looking bright!
Returning to work after being on a career break is daunting and I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but actively working on your self-confidence and keeping an open mind will be crucial. Put your energy into working out what you actually want to do and then creating a bloody brilliant CV to help get you there.
There are options for everyone, so stop saying “I can’t” or “There isn’t” and start saying “I can!” and “There is!”