How to keep your career going when you take a few years off

It might be that you are pregnant and decided to be at home while your child is young. Or you feel like enjoying a career break and travelling around the world. Or life got on your way, and you must stop working for a while.

All scenarios above can have up and downsides, and you will have to deal with them. And one of the most sensitive points is how you are going to keep your career going when you take a few years off – assuming that you will want to get back to it later.

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Depending on your industry, even one semester away can cause a lot of damage considering how fast things are likely to change.

But, thankfully, there is always a way around everything, and here is how you can ensure that there will be a job for you when you decide to get back to work.

Have a plan with a deadline

The first thing that you will need to do is create a plan for your years off. Of course, you aren’t going to outline every day of your life. But you need to have clear in your mind, and possible on the paper, why you are doing it and what you are hoping to achieve – bear in mind that these will be the questions number one and two of any recruiter when you start looking for a job.

And, above all, you need to find out ways not to let it ruin your career, such as the suggestions you are reading here. You will also need to establish a deadline, a date when you expect to get back to work and consider what you must do make it happen. It is OK if you have to change it later, but you still should have an idea of it.

Keep in touch with your colleagues

One of the easiest ways to stay updated about what is going on in your industry is keeping in touch with your colleagues. Invite them for lunch or dinner sometimes and let them talk about work.

You can specifically tell them that you will be happy to hear about what is going on in their professions, so they don’t think they are being inappropriate talking about their jobs after working hours. This way you will know the latest news, and how people are currently managing the same work you used to do.

Read and watch the news about your job

Spare some hours of your week to read and watch the news and find out the trends related to your profession. You can subscribe to a specialised magazine or a channel on YouTube for instance. As long the source is reliable, it will be a great source of information for you.

Yes, you might think that you don’t have the time for it, or that you don’t want to have the time for it. But if you don’t do it, or if you leave to catch up just a few weeks before starting looking for a job, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information.

Join a course

But this one you can and should leave for the last minute. A few months, or up to one year before you start hunting for a new job, you should consider joining a course in your area. It will help you to update your knowledge, reactive your contacts (and make new ones) and get back to a routine outside your home.

Of course, it will depend on your financial conditions and the time that you have to spare. But you certainly should do your best to get back studying and refreshing your ideas. Rest assured that it will be seen with very good eyes by your future recruiters when they look at your CV.

Try some freelancing or volunteering

Before getting back into looking for a proper job, you should consider freelancing or volunteering in your area instead of staying at home feeling sorry for yourself. It can be as a consultant, a tutor, or anything else, as long it is related to the job that you will be searching.

And it doesn’t need to be anything formal or big. For instance, you might discover that one of your friends needs a hand with a project only for a couple of hours. It is still worth if it can give you the feeling of being a professional back. And it will be even better if it can be mentioned in your resume.

Consider looking for career services

Nowadays, there are several services ready to deal with people who is being through the same situation as you. One of them is a career coaching agency, which can give you plenty of advice regarding how to deal with the transition back to work and how to explain your career break in your resume and during your interview.

And talking about your CV, another support that you should consider contracting is a resume service. They will be able to help you with your cover letter and work history, both sections that can feel a bit hard to write considering the gap created by the years you took off work.

Ask for fresh references

You know that your resume and, possibly, your LinkedIn profile will need a serious upgrade just before you start looking for a job. And one thing that you can use to achieve it is fresh references. Let your former bosses and colleagues know that you are in search of a new opportunity and ask for references.

It can be in the form of a phone number that you can add to your CV; a written letter for more formal occasions; and recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn. Any format can help you to show to the recruiters that you are a valuable employee. And it is even better if it comes from a person that is a reference in your industry.

The takeaway

There you got several tips on how you can keep your career going when you take a few years off work. They are simple to be followed, and you can make them happen in no time.

Just make sure that you consider what you will be doing before and during the time you are away from your career. This way you can ensure that you will be ready when the job search’s time arrives for you.

Author Bio:

Sylvia Giltner is a content writer at studyclerk. She helps people to write the perfect resume and land a desirable job. To know more about Sylvia – check her Twitter or find her here.

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