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How to get back to work after a career break

How to Become a Teacher in IndiaAs 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.

Why restart your career?

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.

How to start your career again


Analyze your tastes

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.

Gain confidence

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.

Keep yourself updated

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.

Pursue higher education

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.

Redraft your resume

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.

Be open

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.

Watch this video to learn how you can become an entrepreneur at a young age

Yasmeen Hossain
About Yasmeen Hossain
Yasmeen Hossain left her banking job to become a school teacher. She shares her experiences, knowledge and views on the Indian education sector.

11 thoughts on “How to get back to work after a career break”

  1. Hello Ma’am,
    I accidently found your article during my search regarding teaching jobs in Doha, Qatar. It was very informative. I also appreciate your efforts to reply each and every comment and query with reference to your writeup. After going through your article, I feel you can give me better advice on my career restart. I am an Indian and have done my MSc in chemistry followed by MBA in Hospital & Healthcare management from Symbiosis, Pune. Also
    I have 5 years work experience with one of the leading financial corporate. Due to some of personal priorities, I have been at home since last two years. Right now my hubby has just joined his new assignment in Doha. I want to restart my career and join him there ASAP. I don’t have any technical degree in teaching field but I have been teaching students since my college days. What are the prospects if I restart my career as a teacher there??
    Secondly what would you suggest keeping my background details in your mind for opportunities there?
    I have a 2 years old baby so I just want to go for a job where I can pay my personal as well as my professional responsibility properly.. waiting for your honest advice..

  2. Hi Yasmeen,
    I just caught hold of your article while randomly surfing the internet for some insight into teaching opportunities abroad. And as I started reading your articles and the answers you are giving to everyone’s solutions, I couldn’t stop reading your articles which are loaded with useful information. I have done my masters in zoology following which I am teaching science, maths and computer to middle graders in a STEM curriculum school in kolkata for the last one year. I have just applied for a B.ed degree in a distance mode which would take me two years to complete. I would like to know whether I am eligible to apply as a science teacher for high school teaching, which courses would be best suited for me to apply for schools abroad. Please guide me with your suggestion. Looking forward to it. And keep writing…Cheers.

  3. Dear Ma’am,
    Thank you so much for the insights. Loved your article.
    I would be glad if you you could please help me with this..
    I have completed my B.Sc. , M.Sc. and B.Ed. Currently teaching in a school. I am planning to apply for a M.Ed course in USA which would be for classroom teaching. I want to know will I get job after completing my course? Should I go ahead with this idea?

  4. Dear Yaseem
    Your article is amazing. Please do write more articles. I enjoyed reading them. Meanwhile could you kindly clarify.
    a) What is the difference between CIDTT and PGCSE? Could you also tell me how much would it cost for each of these courses?
    b) Is it mandatory to have prior teaching experience to do these courses? I am currently work in banking industry, I aim at developing necessary qualifications before getting into teaching as my mainstream.
    Thanks a ton

  5. Hello maam
    Am from Karnataka. Am 25 year old. I have completed Diploma in EECE from podar institution securing 85% i have done a regular course. Am getting married in 2018. my fiance is in india too. We are looking forward to settle abroad. I have got a fair idea after reading all ur article questions and answers. But Please guide me how can i get the best option to go abroad. I want to continue the same field but in abroad. Would you suggest me to study if yes then what best options and how do i get there or look for jobs directly? Any course after diploma in ecce or even i am interested in child psychology. Teaching am interested only up to 6 yrs .I was never confident about going abroad but after reading ur article got encouraged. Thank you so much for the push. Waiting for your reply eagerly 🙂 Again thank you so much maam for the inspiration 🙂

  6. I am Sk Anowar Ali from West Bengal having B.Sc(Hons) in Mathematics from Visvabharati University and I have 7 years experience in teaching as a primary school teacher in West Bengal. I complete D.El.Ed course through ODL mode .I have an excellent experience as a tutor upto HS level in Mathematics in CBSE, WBHSE ,ICSE and WBBSE in both medium English and Bengali. I have basic knowledge in computer. I want to get a teaching job in mathematics in oman or Kuwait or baha rain. Am I eligible for teaching post there? If so how and where can I contact for this ? If any suggestions please answer me as soon as possible. I am 31 plus now .Thanks Mam.

  7. Hello Ma’am
    Rarely, does one come across such passionate people. Your detailed article and the effort you have put in drafting each response is commendable. I am truly grateful to you for shedding so much light on this subject. Please answer a few of my queries too.
    1) Can you shed more light on the opportunities of working as a performing arts teacher abroad?
    2) which countries invest and promote arts and education? And what are the pre requisites for applying there?
    3) I am a post graduate in English literature from Delhi University. I have grade 8 certification in Speech and Drama from Trinity Guildhall and I have been teaching drama in education, till grade 5 in a reputed school in Delhi for past 7 years. (I also have a diploma in early childhood education and a Diploma in Acting). What is the way forward for me to work abroad?
    4)My huaband has been teaching Western Music for past 9 years in various schools in Mumbai and Delhi. He plays 3 different instruments and holds Grade 8 certification in Violin from Trinity Guildhall. What are the opportunities for him?
    I am sorry if I have bothered with such a long comment. Please respond when you find time i will be really grateful. Thanks a lot in advance.

  8. Hi Yasmeen
    Ur article is truely informative….I am a dentist with 11 years of clinical experience (frm mumbai where i m based)n hv enjoyed my work…After my daughter who is now 6 year old i hv tapped my hidden passion for teaching…I want to explore teaching here in an international school…wud need ur kind n detailed advice as to for teaching in an IB school here in mumbai what qualification do i need to have n frm where do i get it from…n do u suggest IB over IG school as later after gaining experience in these schools want to explore oppurtunities abroad (US or UK) which u said will need to do PGCSE for both if i hv correctly understood….Kindly reply as to hw do i start this teaching process frm india n then exploring options abroad …..Thank u again n looking forward to ur reply.
    Bansari D

  9. Hi mam
    I have just gone through your article for teaching abroad …I also want to do so not far but places like Dubai or Australia .Your article encouraged me that ya it is possible I can go and teaching .I have two years teaching experience ,I am a science graduate and also having B.ed degree . But I don’t know how apply and from where I will get information to apply for job as well as how authentic it is and I can trust on it. Kindly provide your guidance mam.

  10. Hi Yasmeen,

    I am writing to you for the second time today. I have read your articles and find them very informative. As with so many people asking your advice, I need your advice to steer me in the right direction in my career.
    I am a single mother with two young children who has just started teaching at an international school. A career abroad would be an ideal way to bring up my daughters, solving many of my life issues like place to stay and their education.
    Thank you very much and hope you continue your good work.


  11. Hello ma’am ,
    I read your article it very informative , i have completed my bachelors in life science, master in sports nutrition , i’ll be completing b.ed by april 2020 i have 2 and 9 months experience , i am looking out for the job overseas , can you guide me


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