As a blogger, I receive queries from different readers asking for suggestions about their teaching career. A few months back one of my readers, who at the moment is on a career break for 16 years, asked me how to restart her teaching career at the age of 38 especially when she was out of touch with maybe her own subject.
What I can figure out from her story and stories of other career re-launchers is that beneath all these questions lies one major trait which is apprehension. Through this article I would like to introspect some simple steps that one needs to prepare and become job ready for seamless comeback in any sector.
In general we assume that career break is mostly taken by women for reasons like maternity break or to take care of their young children. Well that is one of the major reasons in India but not the only reason. People opt for career break for different reasons. Reasons like marriage, relocating to a new place because of husband’s new job, mid – career or mid- life crisis, finding nirvana via world tour or volunteering in some obscure corner of the world, pursuing higher education etc.
Whatever be the reason, recruiters are generally apprehensive not only because of disconnect between the employer and the candidate but also it is a high risk proposition situation for the employer to fill the knowledge lacunae by retraining the employee. Before we figure out the path to restart one’s career, one need to understand that people who restart their careers can prove to be an asset to our workforce because they are standing at a precipice of life where they have reanalyzed their strength and experiences from their previous work. Their extensive work experience, mature perspective, new found energy and enthusiasm to work again make them the ideal candidates for prospective employers. The only thing that they have to do is connect the dots and put the right picture in front of the recruiter.
Before convincing an employee like a mendacious lawyer, you need to convince yourself the right reason to start again. Are you re-launching yourself because you are bored flicking movies on Netflix and have attracted enough scornful eyes from parents as well as society for your carefree, couch potato attitude or are you restarting because you have run out of money after returning from your sun-kissed Bondi beach trip?
Whatever be the reason you need to analyze how you are going to contribute to the economy after such rejuvenating experiences. Think of answers to questions like what did you do during your break? , why you want to join again?, how will you cope if this problem resurfaces again? Once you have taken the first step to analyze whether you are ready to re launch, only then you will be able to follow the next steps.
Being away from work force might mean that over the years your preference has changed and the same cubicle work might not allure you anymore. Might be spending more time in the kitchen whetted your appetite in culinary skills and you want to take the leap from financial consultancy to opening your own restaurant or might be volunteering in a school gave you a clarion call to start your career as a counselor.
Anything can happen, and take this free time to meditate what you like most because if you return back without much interest that you had in your previous domain, then chances are high you will soon head for another long term career break.
As mentioned earlier the major emotion that lies beneath all this chaos is apprehension especially from women returners post child birth. Apprehensions like what will be my first step? Will I be accepted by the employer? Am I too outdated? Will I balance life between work and family etc? This is the time to build confidence by reassessing your career options.
Think of the skills that you have acquired during this break and not necessary these should be skills that you learn in a business set up but even skills that you have inculcated while nurturing your kids. Think of the inner strength, discipline, resilience and organization skills that you developed mothering a new born child which is one of the toughest jobs to shoulder.
In the end only you can execute this change and if required gain family support for the extra dose of confidence.
Even though we live in a digital world it won’t hurt if you get back to your old colleagues or even boss. Not only will it open avenues and facilitate you finding out work but also it will keep you abreast about the latest developments in your industry.
Research companies on the digital platform, follow their trends and if possible comment on their relevant blogs to increase your visibility.
One of the major reasons why recruiters are not comfortable hiring re-starters is because they feel that their technological know-how is completely obsolete. Now days it is not so difficult to keep one selves abreast thanks to internet.
Books, journals, newspapers, education classes, your old office colleagues can act as added sources. Freelancing, taking up part time opportunities in a NGO, interning in a start-up can give the impression that you were occupied and used your break time in a judicious manner.
Not only will it act as a boost for your resume but it can also boost up your self esteem. It can serve as a gateway for reentering into the workforce or even serve as an opportunity to switch career tracks.
Your ability to engage yourself and finish a course during your time away from work will send positive message to the employers that you are serious about building or developing new skills as well as it will reflect your tenacity to complete the course.
Your old resume won’t be effective any more; hence some cosmetic changes might be required to showcase the skills acquired during your break time. A genuine cover letter showing your eagerness to return will be much appreciated.
Also recruiters search your digital footprint and therefore it would be prudent to realign your LinkedIn profile and to give it a look that even your two page resume might not be able to explain.
Being away from work for a long time might keep you at a slight disadvantage as compared to other employees. So be open and flexible during salary negotiation that the company might like to offer you. HR managers will compare your last pay-cheque rather than the current market remuneration scales.
Hence do not compare yourself with those employees who grew professionally while you were on a sabbatical. Of course this does not mean that you accept exploitation or compromise with your new job profile but be flexible keeping your experience, newly acquired skills and industry standards.
To conclude making a comeback requires a good SWOT analysis as not only one becomes a different person during this time but also the job market has changed in leaps and bounds. In India companies like SHEROES, JobsForHer etc are helping women to make a second comeback in their career life.
Analyzing the wind direction, coming up with a mindset to match the skills required to flow with the wind, perseverance, confidence and solid resolution can turn the odds in your favor. In the end always remember:
It is never too late to start over.