Are you planning or considering a career break? Currently in the midst of one?
Career breaks occur for a variety of reasons: caring for a new child or other family member, addressing a personal health issue, experiencing a layoff or termination, traveling, going back to school, or pursuing other interests.
If you plan to return to your career (or plan to pursue a new career) in the future, you can take proactive steps during your break to remain connected to your network, keep your skills sharp and stay abreast of new developments in your field; better positioning you for reentry.
Here are some suggestions:
- Renew! Maintain key professional association memberships, attend meetings/conferences as you are able, and use your association membership to keep current on industry news and trends.
- Network! Stay connected to your existing network and cultivate new connections. Reach out to people who could be strategic contacts. People you meet now could be valuable contact later!
- Research! Continually research what employers seek in your field or the field you are considering. Regularly read job postings and industry news, and address or plan to address any weaker areas.
- Practice! Keep your skills sharp (or develop new skills!) through strategic volunteering or freelance work. This helps you stay abreast of new technology and industry developments and helps close the employment gap on your resume!
- Learn! The proliferation of online classes, including degree and certificate programs and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses, offered through Coursera, Udemy, Udacity and other providers) makes learning easy and often very affordable, not to mention flexible! MOOCs are taught by faculty at top universities and by industry experts. UVa’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers several online certificate programs; other sites, including Code Academy, Alison and Lynda offer free or very affordable software instruction. Many options are available!
- Update! Periodically refresh your resume and LinkedIn profile to include any new volunteer or freelance work, new skills and education, and to keep current with industry norms.
Even just one or two of these steps can make a difference!
For more ideas on returning to work following a career break, check out our webinar, “Does My Laptop Fit in the Diaper Bag?” and Other Important Questions for Parents Returning to Work.