Strategies for a Successful Return: Navigating the Job Market After a Career Pause

Strategies for a Successful Return: Navigating the Job Market After a Career Pause was originally published on Ivy Exec.

Navigating career breaks is a common journey, whether it’s a pause for personal well-being, escaping a toxic work environment, or responding to economic challenges.

Reasons vary – from tending to mental health to caring for loved ones. This narrative is especially prevalent among women.

Notably, 37 percent of highly qualified professional women and 24 percent of men have experienced career breaks with the intent to return. These breaks typically range from six months to two years. When re-entering the job market after such a hiatus, the challenge lies in positioning yourself as a standout candidate.

In the following discourse, we will explore effective strategies to transition seamlessly into the professional realm and secure a new opportunity.


✔ Nurturing Ongoing Connections with Former Employers

Cultivating a positive rapport with your previous workplace can be a strategic move during your hiatus. According to insights from Harvard Business Review, rehiring individuals who have taken career breaks is notably more impactful.

Sustain meaningful connections with former colleagues and supervisors. This proactive approach positions you as a prime candidate should a relevant opportunity arise within your former organization. Your history with the company not only clarifies the reasons behind your break but also underscores your past success in contributing to its achievements.

Additionally, fostering these relationships equips you with valuable references and recommendations as you embark on your job search.


✔ Addressing a Career Gap on Your Resume

While the instinct might be to conceal a career break on your application documents, the wiser approach differs. If addressed, employers might formulate assumptions about the hiatus. Hence, it is prudent to shed light on the reasons behind gaps in your work history.


✔ Highlight Your Evolving Skills After a Career Break, or Explore a Skills-Centric Resume Format

Amid a career hiatus, concerns about skill depreciation, shared by potential employers and yourself, can arise. It’s crucial to keep your skills from gathering dust while away from the professional arena. Skill enhancement takes diverse forms, so contemplate engaging in volunteer work or freelancing to stay sharp and proactive.

Yet, certain breaks may stem from circumstances like bereavement or mental health challenges, hindering options for part-time work or volunteering. In such instances, a strategic approach involves adopting a skills-centric resume format, categorizing your professional journey by skills rather than chronology. This format accentuates your capabilities – focusing on what you can accomplish rather than when you accomplished it.

For example, create a section titled “SUPERVISORY AND MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE.” Outline the various responsibilities that showcase your expertise throughout your career under this heading. Following this, introduce a new segment for your work history, maintaining transparency about the reason for your career break.


✔ Discussing Your Career Gap in the Interview

Addressing your career gap is essential, even if you’ve covered it in your resume. While your potential employer can’t delve into specific questions, your career break might linger as an unspoken topic. Be proactive in bringing it up early in the interview.

Articulate your explanation clearly to avoid stumbling and create a comfortable atmosphere. By addressing the gap promptly, you set the stage for a smooth flow of conversation, allowing you to tackle subsequent questions with confidence, unburdened by the unspoken curiosity surrounding your career break.


✔ Balancing Transparency with Conciseness

While honesty about your work history is crucial, resist the urge to delve too deeply into the details of your career break.

When questioned about it, respond succinctly and swiftly steer the conversation back to the current role. If pressed further, showcase a relevant example from your professional experience that aligns with the position in question.

Should the interviewer persist in exploring your career hiatus, consider gracefully concluding the interview and exploring alternative opportunities. This ensures a positive and forward-looking focus during the discussion.


You’re More than Your Career Break


The data underscores a common reality: professionals often leave their careers for various reasons. A career break doesn’t signify an end to your professional journey or a descent down the corporate hierarchy. Confronting your career pause proactively and emphasizing your skills positions you as a credible contender in the eyes of potential employers.

After all, a workplace that fails to acknowledge life’s inevitable detours may not align with your ideal professional environment.

By Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.