Life happens. While we try to control even the tiniest aspects of it, there are always events that can simply never be predicted. Needing to care for an elderly loved one or even realizing you want to be a full-time mom or dad results in wonderful family time but can leave you stranded once you’re finally ready to get back to a full-time job. Even gaps as small as one year can make your resume seem unappealing to potential employers that could very well read into the gap as a bad omen.
Take a deep breath, and calm yourself down. Gaps where you spent your time working more than 40 hours a week to care for your family are nothing if not badges of pride that should be respected rather than reviled. All the same, it is a part of your life that you will need to address directly with your potential employer should you hope to secure a position. In such cases, the best way to prepare starts long before you ever send out a resume.
You want to go back to work, this much is clear to you. Have you figured out why? Is it because you need time away from your baby or older loved one? Is it because you want to contribute more financially? If you did get a job, how many hours are you honestly hoping to work? If you do get the job, how will your loved one be cared for? It’s these questions you need to answer now because these will ultimately decide where you apply and what kind of terms you need to negotiate regarding your position.
Collect Your Confidence
Even if this doesn’t really apply to you, all too often staying at home results in a loss in one’s belief in their ability to successfully perform to the standards they once upheld. For this, figure out which areas you’re feeling shaky. If it’s speaking, hold mock interviews with friends and loved ones. If its appearance, start working out or redefining your work wardrobe.
Reassess Your Career
Breaks of any period of time lead to a lot of changes in who you are and what you want to do with your life. Just because you began your career as an HR administrator does not mean you’ll still feel the same joy even three years down the road. By determining what you like now and what your new goals are, you can save yourself the hassle of applying to jobs you no longer have any interest in. No matter if these skills have changed or not, take on a few refresher courses to make sure you’re still current with your knowledge of the job requirements.
Tell your friends you’re on the lookout for a new job. Tell the internet. Excitedly take on some networking lunches. Though there are thousands of jobs online just waiting for resumes, some of the best opportunities come from the people you know. The more excited you are to jump back in, the more eager a hiring manager will be willing to see your break as a positive.
Share Your Ambitions
Be it your children, spouse or older loved one, do not keep it a secret from them that you’re on the hunt. Letting them know early will allow them, and you, to deal with any confused emotions. For instance, children could see your return to work as you wanting to escape. It’s up to you to assure them that the job hunt is solely because you want to, not because of anything anyone did at home.
Now that all of the background noise is quieted, it’s time to take on the interviews. During these, always be honest and straightforward about your break. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. After briefly covering the reasons, immediately jump into emphasizing what you did during that time, what you learned and why that makes you ready to rejoin the workforce. Then, once hired, it should take no time at all falling back into the comfortable rhythm of a 9 to 5.
As a final note, never be afraid to quit your first one or two jobs after the break. Maybe you got hired only to find that what you thought was a good fit turned out to be terrible for your plans. Whatever the reason, never lock yourself into an unhappy situation. If you do, you’ll never find your true passion.