How to return to work with confidence

There are many reasons you might take a long-term career break study, travel, health, or to care for young children or adult family members. Whatever the reason, there will likely come a time when you consider returning to the workforce. 

Career and leadership expert Shannon Lyndon-Lugg shows there is work-life after a long-term career break and shares her tips for building your return to work confidence to land that dream job.

Heading back into the workforce after a long-term career break can be daunting, and many people suffer a crisis of confidence thinking about this big step.

Here are some tips to help you to build your confidence to take your next step.

What do you want to do?

Preparing for your return to the workforce is a great time maybe the best of your life — to undertake career planning. You get to consider what you want to do, undertake some good research on the growth areas of the market, and position yourself well for your next move. 

If you have the time and interest, you may even be able to take up further study at a vocational school, college, community college, university, or via the many free (yes, FREE!) online learning platforms out there (check out Coursera as a starting point).

Reflect on the skills you’ve built

Without a doubt, as a parent, you will have honed your prioritization and time management skills. You’re also likely to have grown in maturity and empathy. Spend some time reflecting on the other key skills you’ve built and how you could relate these to the workforce. Undertake some research on the skills required in your target jobs to help prompt your thinking.

Reconnect with your network

You may have been spending more time with toddlers or older adults than with CEOs and business influencers, but now is the time to get back out there. Reconnect with old work co-workers and reach out to old managers. Ask them for their advice and any recommendations they have for other people you could connect with. We know that a high proportion of roles are found in the ‘hidden job market’, which means your network can be a powerful tool to support you. 

If you don’t have that many connections to leverage, then start making some by attending networking events or one of the many free Meetup events in your local city.

Practice, practice, practice

It’s likely that you’re going to need to polish up on your interview technique. This will help you build confidence in talking about yourself and getting the right words to describe your career goals and the value you’ll bring. Find a friend or old co-worker who’ll help you, and use any opportunities you have to meet with new connections as a way to test your thinking and pitch. Look at early interviews as opportunities to practice, too.

Being clear on your goals, reflecting on the great skills you have, building your capability, and practicing talking about yourself, will help you build confidence and take those next steps.

Written by Shannon Lyndon-Lugg. Shannon is a mother to two lovely children and an expert in human resources, talent, leadership development, diversity, and performance. Shannon works with individuals and companies to support career transitions and grow talent.

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