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. You may face an unexpected health challenge or a personal event, such as a sudden illness, hospitalization, or becoming a loved one’s caretaker. Or you may choose to take some years off in order to raise a family. Everyone’s situation is different, but we have put together a list of tips that will help you reenter the work force after a prolonged period, no matter what your circumstances are.
- 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. Communicate this information to them verbally, in in-person and phone interviews, or in a cover letter. This can be risky, but a receptive and compassionate hiring manager who takes the time to listen and understand the situation can be a sign that the organization has a good culture and would be a good fit for you.
- Make every effort to reassure the hiring manager that you are ready to reenter the work force and will be a valuable addition to the team. If it has been a while since you were in an interview, working on your interview skills and rehearsing beforehand can help you appear more confident.
- Endeavor to overcome any doubt of your competency. You must make the hiring manager comfortable with the fact that the reason for being out of the work force was truly due to a health event and not because of something else, such as that you are a worker who performs poorly and can’t stay employed. Ask your past supervisors, colleagues, and clients (where applicable) for references to help with this. Also provide concrete examples of past successes and demonstrations of your skills.
- 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 and explain to the hiring manager what skills transfer from that experience to the role you are aiming for.
- Above all, be sure to take care of yourself. There will be any number of challenges you will face both in looking for a new role and in getting started in that new role. If you are running yourself ragged and stressing out too much about finding your next role, your health will not be where it needs to be in order to propel your career forward. After you take the leap and find that next role, continue to practice self-care and do what you need to do to ensure you are ready to tackle each new challenge that comes with your new role.
Have you come back into the work force after a gap due to a health challenge or personal event? What did you find to be helpful during the process? Let us know in the comments section!