5 Tips for Reentering the Work Force After a Health Challenge or Personal Event

Sometimes, everything goes your way, your career is on fire, and everything you touch turns to gold. You are unstoppable in your career arc and everyone wants you on their team. However, sometimes, life throws us a curve ball.

Reentering the workforce with confidence

Maybe you faced an unexpected health challenge or a personal event, such as a sudden illness, hospitalization, or becoming a loved one’s caretaker. Maybe you took some years off in order to raise a family. Everyone’s situation is different, and reentering the workforce can be challenging. No matter what your circumstances are, here are five tips for reentering the workforce after a prolonged absence:

1. Be as transparent as is professionally possible regarding your time out of the work force.

Being vague or attempting to hide your reasons can create a negative impression and make a hiring manager uncomfortable. An uncomfortable hiring manager is unlikely to hire you. For this reason, be as transparent as is possible or appropriate. 

Communicate this information to them verbally, in in-person and phone interviews, or in a cover letter. This can be risky. However, a receptive, compassionate hiring manager who takes the time to understand the situation can be a sign that their organization has a good culture and thus may be a good fit for you. 

This is an important step, so make sure you prepare for it. When reentering the workforce, be appropriately transparent about your time off.

2. Reassure the hiring manager.

Make every effort to reassure the hiring manager that you are ready to reenter the workforce and will be a valuable addition to the team.

If it has been a while since you were in an interview, work on your interview skills and rehearse beforehand. This will help you appear more confident.

3. Endeavor to overcome any doubt of your competency.

The hiring manager needs to be comfortable with the fact that your reason for being out of the workforce was truly due to a personal event, not because of something else. Don’t give the impression that you’re a worker who performs poorly or can’t stay employed. Ask past supervisors, colleagues, and clients (where applicable) for references. Also provide concrete examples of past successes and demonstrations of your skills. 

4. Emphasize relevant experiences you may have had during the gap.

For example, if you were a stay-at-home parent who organized events at school, or if you did volunteer work during a long illness, put it on your resume. Explain to the hiring manager what skills transfer from that experience to the role you’re aiming for. When reentering the workforce, emphasize any relevant experiences you had during your time away from work. 

5. Above all, be sure to take care of yourself.

You will face challenges in looking for a new role and in getting started in a new role. If you are running yourself ragged or stressing yourself out, your health will not be where it needs to be in order to facilitate your career. After you find that next role, continue to practice self-care. Do what you need to do to ensure you are ready to tackle any challenges that come with your new role. When reentering the workforce, take care of yourself.

Final Thoughts

Reentering the workforce after a prolonged absence can be rife with challenges. These five tips are designed to help your return to work. Have you come back into the workforce after a health challenge or other personal event? What did you find to be helpful during thos process? Check out our Thought Leadership articles to learn more, or contact us to discuss your hiring and recruiting challenges. 

Written by Mark Whitman

Mark Whitman is the founder of TeamBuilder Search. Mark’s mission is to help clients recruit the top five percent of digital marketing executives, taking great satisfaction in helping clients out-recruit their competition. In the process of fulfilling his mission, he takes great care to help digital marketing leaders elevate their careers. People say Mark owns a recruiting and staffing company. He says he owns a life improvement company. To learn more about Mark visit our Leadership page.
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