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Returning to the workplace after a break: What women need to know

There are many reasons why women might need to take a break from their careers, ranging from childcare, eldercare or health issues. Whether your career gap is a few months or a few years, it can be quite challenging to return to the workforce. Today’s business environment has become increasingly dynamic, and the job market is extremely competitive. Finding the right job for you may seem daunting, but it can be done—with time, understanding of the environment and hard work.

Prepare yourself mentally

Returning to the workforce is a challenge that can be accomplished with the right mind-set. Be clear about why you want to get back to work and what you wish you accomplish. Consider your current situation clearly. More often than not, the reason that you took that break in the first place still exists albeit at a more manageable level. If you’re taking care of children or elderly relatives, you need to find reliable care providers as well as a backup option. While a large number of people rely on trusted family members, it might make sense to consider professional helpto take the pressure off your relatives. What is most important is to have complete confidence in your choice of care giver so that your mind is at ease for the task ahead.

Communicate openly with your family about your plans

It is important to build a support system around you by talking to your family and explaining why you want to return to your career. Let them know about your plans so that they understand that you have thought this through and that you have carefully considered your decision. Do not underestimate the importance of family support. You need to have open conversations with them, especially if you need to enlist their help in the case of child or elder care. It is a common mistake that some women make to not clearly communicate with their families, and this has the potential to backfire.

Do your homework

Once you make the decision to return to work, the first thing to do is research. Read up on the industry, on how trends have changed and the new demands of the market. You may find yourself spending months doing this, and this is time well spent. Any interviewer will note the gap in your resume, which is why you need to work hard to prove that you are not out of the loop. Alongside your research, look for networking opportunities. Keep yourself updated on professional social media sites. Get in touch with former colleagues and former bosses, speak to them about your plans and put out feelers for job opportunities. Go to networking events. Talk about your strengths and how you deal with challenges. You never know where things will click, especially if you do not put yourself out there.

Keep an open mind

Many women get frustrated by the job search because they cannot find an opportunity with the same designations and salaries that they had before their break. Some are fixated on big name companies and will not consider the smaller firms or start-ups. This is not the best way to go about it. Anyone who returns to work after a significant break will have to work their way up the career ladder again. Do not get hung up on big name companies; most of them are tough to get into, whether you’ve taken a break or not. Instead, consider the smaller companies and the start-ups. A lot of these companies not only give you flexible hours, but will also give you the opportunity to do interesting work which will help you upskill and update your knowledge. Freelancing is also a great way to build your resume. Find websites that advertise freelance projects, where you can keep your own hours while working on assignments that can help you transition back to your career. Finally, with preparation, planning and hard work, you can achieve your goal of returning to your career after a break. You will need to manage your own expectations, prepare your support systems and put in a significant amount of time and effort, but ultimately it will pay off.