By Nandita Bose
Getting back to work after a career break can be an arduous journey. You may be an experienced professional who has taken time off to care for the family or move in with a spouse, or one who is looking to change professions and make a fresh start with a new career. You may also be skilled and qualified, but without work experience, and looking to start your career several years after graduating. Whatever your situation, if you feel the need to get back to work and reclaim your professional identity, it's important to review your readiness quotient.
Where do you make a start? The professional topography, across industries, has shifted dynamically. Before the break, you may have been a skilled and confident professional delivering value to your company. Today you may feel a bit tentative, unsure of your bearings in the current professional arena. Seems familiar? This is not just your story, it is the story of scores of professional women, across the globe.
Whether you have been on a career break for a year or several years, the urgent desire to get back to work, along with anxiety and uncertainty about where to start, can quickly lead to frustration. How does one combat that and get ahead? Here are some steps you can take to keep steering and stay on course.
Do a readiness review – How ready are you right now to return to the workforce? A readiness review, by introspecting, will allow you to set short-term and long-term goals for yourself.
Create space in your daily schedule for the professional in you - Those who have been busy caring for the family, understand only too well that running a home and family is a full-time job. So, before starting to look for work actively, it is important to create space in your daily schedule for the professional in you. Set aside some hours. Think of these as your work hours. Use the time for professional development, volunteering, continuing education, or networking.
Find a buddy to work with - If keeping yourself on track is hard to do alone, find a working buddy. If housework gets you bogged down, find a quiet place where you can regularly devote a few hours to preparing yourself for getting back to work.
Set realistic goals – Goal-setting is as important in the process of returning to work, as it is on the job. The key is to set realistic goals. Start with baby steps. Have small targets for each day and make sure you achieve them. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you keep up your energy for the long haul. Remember, small steps matter, as they will lead you to the larger goal.
Reevaluate your skills – A skills assessment is really critical to a successful return to work. Any industry moves forward dynamically, and a gap of a few years from work can also leave you with gaps in your skills. It is very important to upgrade your core skills to current industry standards. At this stage, it may also be worthwhile to get a formal assessment of required skills done with the help of professionals. Get ready to step into the workplace with new confidence in your skills and abilities.