What Can Cause Career Break?
A break in a career can occur for various reasons. And it can happen to anyone and not just women. Whether to go for a lower-level job or not, and how to approach it, are partly dependent on the duration of the break, and partly on social attitudes.
It is true that when you are a woman who took a break to raise a family and are trying to make a comeback after six years because the kid is going to school, you are faced with particularly difficult decisions and questions. It is typically assumed that you will be less dedicated to your job because half your mind will be homeward looking. But that is often a social assumption, rather than her personal belief.
Then there are others who might need a break. The reasons could be as diverse as attempting to learn new skills, having a mental breakdown, a desire to see some of one’s own country while still young, or being forced to take a break to take care of an aged relative.
How to Address A Break in Career?
The issue that we are focussing here is the return from a career break.
Since students are the primary concern here, it is unlikely for the break to be off too long a duration. But the possibility of an extended break always remains.
When you are looking for a job again, you need to:
- pinpoint your own goals
- find out the position where your peers have reached
- understand the expectations of an employer
Ask yourself the following questions to get an insight into whether you should go for a lower-level job:
- What did you do as a student?
- Do you have the option of not going for lower-level jobs?
- How do you envisage your future career?
Play on Your Strength
In order to take clear steps forward, the student returning to career needs to look at the relationship between what they studied and what the job openings are about. A student of social work, sociology or economics might be better suited for jobs that have fieldwork, data handling, or data analysis. A student of literature and the humanities might find a better niche in media, especially the emerging electronic media, in publishing houses, or advertisement world.
Update Your CV with Relevant Information
Your CV needs to be updated before you start applying for jobs. Updating the CV also means placing the career break on record. Should you simply glide over it? It is better to clarify, both on paper and in an interview, why you took the break. Without being too elaborate or personal, you can explain the reason for the break and the expectations and goals for re-joining.
While updating the CV, including skills gained during the break adds a huge bonus point. To continue from one of the examples given above, a student who took a diploma course in digital humanities and book publishing could try to turn the break into an asset if her choice of jobs lays in the right directions.
Revive Your Network
When the break is of a relatively longer duration, you need to re-establish social networks. This involves getting in touch with the older networks of former co-workers, bosses, as well as family and friends. Building a new network is equally important.
You can do it by taking part in job-related programmes, like discipline or industry-based conferences and seminars, or workshops. This allows you to meet with active people in the field while getting much needed hands-on skill enhancement.
Discuss Growth Opportunities with Your Employer
You should negotiate your salary with the employer and management. If you take lower pay, then try and ensure that it does not place you at the bottom of the scale. You do have some experience after all. Even while taking a cut, negotiate retraining and the possibility of appraisals so that your chance of moving up the scale increases.
Being Humble Helps in the Long Run
Sometimes it is necessary to play a humble role. You may have been a top-level achiever at an earlier stage but after a long break, it would be necessary to start from a different point than where you were.
If your goal is to forge ahead, you need to develop relevant skills so that restarting does not become a dead-end. You can look for options that would permit you to move to related fields with greater opportunities for advancement.
Look for Return to Work Programmes
Many companies offer returnship programmes. It is like an internship, except you start from the middle level, rather than right at the bottom. This programme is a great opportunity for you to gain a measure of recognition as well as relatively better salary and perks.
It helps with speeding up the revival of skills and level at which you will be working. Even now, when we look at longer period dropouts, they are more often women. Once out of the workforce, despite having skills, they often find it difficult to re-enter.
People who are currently on a career break but are contemplating returning should consider the following points:
- Keep reading journals specific to their area of interest
- Be present on major social media like LinkedIn to stay connected with professionals
- Remain active in the real-world and social networks
- Be active in areas that fit in with their job profiles. For instance, if you are a web developer, you might volunteer to build a website for your old school
While there is no one strategy that fits everyone, these are the general guidelines for students dropping out and then thinking about returning to jobs and being faced with lower-level compensation and work-profile.