Finding a job and returning to work after a long period outside the workforce can be a daunting task. Regardless of your reasons for taking a career break, returning to the job requires preparation.
Here are the best steps job seekers should take to return to the job market even after a long absence from work.
What is Long-Term Absence from Work?
A long-term work absence is generally defined as a continuous absence from the workforce for more than four weeks. Although it is possible to be absent from work and retain your current job (e.g., maternity leave), long-term absence typically refers to unpaid work.
Studies show that the most common reason for long-term absences is sickness and injuries. Other potential causes include the following:
- Taking care of a family member at home
- Volunteering work
- Becoming a stay-at-home parent
- Taking a sabbatical for personal development
- Completing studies
Reassess and Reaffirm Your Skills
Returning to the job search after a long absence from work is an opportunity to update your resume. In addition to your work experience and educational background, review and update your personal details, including skills, new qualifications, strengths, interests, preferences.
For example, if you’ve taken online courses to learn a new skill, such as programming or a new language, you should add this information to your resume.
Reactivate Your Network
Although an extended period of absence can feel like starting over from scratch, you may still have a network of people you can access. Besides your close circle of family, friends, neighbors, and social media contacts, consider seeking advice and information from past coworkers and new acquaintances you’ve met during your work absence.
It is critical to speak to as many people in your circles as possible when returning to the job search. The more people in your network who know you’re looking for an opportunity, the more likely you will find one. Your network may also include people willing to be a reference for you, which can bolster your chances of impressing a new employer.
Prepare for Your Interviews
No matter how long your absence, you should expect potential employers to ask questions about the gap in your work history.
While you can use a cover letter to talk in greater detail about the nature of your break, you should also be prepared to talk about it during a face-to-face job interview. Explain why you took a break in short, simple terms, emphasizing the positive aspects. For example, if you spent some time away to return to school, you should elaborate on what you’ve learned and what new skills you gained.
Consider asking a trusted friend or a career coach to help you practice answering the questions you might face and boost your confidence.
Ease Yourself Back into the Workforce
Although you may be eager to return to full-time work, transitioning from a non-working schedule back into the regular business hours can be challenging.
If you need some time to adapt to a full-time job, consider seeking part-time or contract work instead. Not only will it help you return to the workforce and gain income, but it will make it much easier for you to transition to full-time work later.
Another advantage of seeking part-time and contract work is that it helps you fill your resume with additional work experience, effectively filling part of the gap your work absence has left. It also shows your potential employers that you’ve taken steps to return to the workforce, improving your chances of success.
Prepare Your Return to the Workforce with JobsFuel
Whether you’ve been out of the job market for a few months or several years, returning to the workforce after a long absence doesn’t need to be complicated. JobsFuel is the ideal online platform for finding your next employer. Search nearby jobs, refine your search using filters according to industry, area, or keywords, and connect with employers in just a few clicks.